Designated as “essential businesses” to remain open during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) quarantine, convenience stores are on the front lines. The pandemic has caused countless changes in the way food is purchased and sold, creating significant impacts on the fresh food industry. While no one knows when we will get “back-to-normal,” or how we will define normal in the future, c-stores should expect impacts in several key areas.
Online Ordering is here to stay
Many c-stores have been trying to figure out how online ordering fits into their business long before the pandemic. Those without these capabilities are working ferociously to get online ordering in place, even if it will not be available during the pandemic. A combination of mobile ordering, online ordering, delivery, and curbside pickup is quickly becoming a must-have for those who are serious about foodservice.
Controlling Inventory and Waste is more important than ever
Foodservice sales are down 30, even 40 percent, and c-stores are monitoring fresh food waste and inventory closer than ever. C-stores who understand who their COVID-Consumer is will thrive. It is likely your consumer has changed, or a different consumer is more prevalent in your stores during this time.
Learn what your new consumer wants. If they are looking for indulgent foods, scale back on offerings that are better for you. To reduce waste and unnecessary inventory, consider removing your slow-moving items completely, and focus on your core items consumers are looking for now.
Food Supply Chain remains resilient, but the same is not said for cleaning supplies
If you don’t have access to proper cleaning supplies and personal protection devices for employees, it’s unlikely you’ll sell food. While the food supply in our country is plentiful, the paper products, cleaning supplies, and masks are not. Overcoming the stigma that food from a c-store is not clean can be a challenge for many retailers. Going the extra mile to clean and take precautionary measures is a great opportunity to elevate your brand in consumers’ minds and will likely pay off when normalcy returns.
Retailers that deliver on their promise of customer care will prevail
Companies that go above and beyond to help their customers through these difficult times will likely emerge reinvigorated by the end of this crisis. An empathetic response to customer’s needs will reinforce loyalty and improve business in the long run.
There’s no question we’re facing an enormous challenge, but we will prevail and re-establish a new definition of normal for foodservice.
Sales Director, ADC