Convenience Channel Partners Rise to Meet Challenges of COVID-19 Crisis
NATIONAL REPORT — Several convenience store industry suppliers are rolling out new platforms to help their retailer partners operate efficiently as COVID-19 continues to grip the country.
DRB Systems, Liquid Barcodes, PDI together with Vroom Delivery, and Steritech are among the companies launching new initiatives.
DRB Systems, in conjunction with partners Suds Creative and Unitec, launched the "DRB is Here to Help" initiative to guide car wash operators through the coronavirus outbreak. The initiative shares data insights and information to help car wash operators through the pandemic.
"For over a third of a century, DRB's journey has been about helping entrepreneurs discover the American dream of running and growing a business," said DRB Systems President Dan Pittman. "At times like these, we take that job even more seriously. That is why we're putting these resources together to help car wash operators during this time."
Those resources include:
A video series providing data about the potential impact of the coronavirus outbreak on wash volumes, unlimited wash plan memberships, credit card transactions, etc.
Webinars focused on what operators can do now to hit the ground running when business starts to rebound.
Regular communications to DRB customers regarding how the company is responding and helpful tips specific to DRB's technology.
Akron, Ohio-based DRB will also poll customers to determine what topics and information they are looking for as they navigate this situation.
"We love the car wash business as much as our customers do, and we have a passion to keep car washes up and running," Pittman said. "The car wash industry is strong, and we will get through this together."
To assist retailers, Liquid Barcodes released a "pre-order and pre-pay" solution that can be deployed within a week for most retailers.
With the platform, customers order from their smartphone, tablet or computer, choose their preferred store location, when they plan to collect and pay for the order. This allows a convenience store's staff time to prepare the order for in-store or curbside pickup.
"The world is stunned by the devastating speed of the coronavirus pandemic and we're all aware of the critical need to distance ourselves from others at this critical time. With the convenience industry one of the few retail sectors still operating, we realized we have a critical role to play right now, supporting retail stores as they implement social distancing," explained Mats Danielsen, CEO of Norway-based Liquid Barcodes.
"By allowing customers to pre-order and pre-pay, our technology dramatically reduces the need for them to linger or queue in store. This solution is one that any convenience retailer can implement extremely easily — ensuring one less worry for anxious customers who want to order and pay for their products online, then simply collect their goods in a fraction of the time it might have taken previously. Every second saved matters."
Atlanta-based PDI is teaming up with Vroom Delivery to launch an order ahead and pickup or delivery feature.
Chicago-based Vroom Delivery is a mobile ordering platform specifically designed to meet the needs of c-store industry. It is joining with PDI's backoffice pricebook and accounting systems, as well as its Marketing Cloud loyalty platform to provide convenience retailers a solution to enable mobile ordering, pickup and delivery.
"The partnership with Vroom Delivery provides PDI the opportunity to support c-stores and help them serve their communities during this global crisis," said Brandon Logsdon, president and general manager of Marketing Cloud Solutions at PDI. "With Vroom Delivery's mobile order and delivery service and our PDI Marketing Cloud platform, convenience retailers gain a much needed solution to help fight this pandemic and give customers a safe alternative for buying essentials."
According to PDI, the pact offers c-store retailers and petroleum wholesalers several benefits:
Getting up and running quickly with a digital, delivery and pickup solution.
Keeping c-store personnel, customers and delivery drivers connected with cloud-based tools that provide visibility throughout the purchase process.
Helping retailers preserve margin by owning the end-to-end solution, enabling delivery of age-restricted products and providing delivery jobs to employees.
Utilizing a solution to compete with online ordering capabilities.
"We're excited to partner with PDI to quickly bring new capabilities to convenience retailers and their customers," said John Nelson, CEO of Chicago-based Vroom Delivery.
Steritech is rolling out two new services, as well as a virtual component, to help the foodservice industry reinforce safety measures during the coronavirus outbreak.
The COVID-19 Protocol Check will provide foodservice establishments the ability to reinforce coronavirus response protocols across their broader organizations, as well as identify and address additional risks in their locations. The audit service helps operators identify high-risk, high-touch areas where employees and customers may have heightened exposure to coronavirus.
The Critical Food Safety Check provides coaching to foodservice operators on high-priority food safety standards, such as handwashing practices and hot and cold holding. This service is in partnership with the operators to help maintain food safety and mitigate risk, and it is offered in a scaled-back, modified version of Steritech's standard food safety assessment.
It also provides an added level of support to employees as they work to maintain food safety under a myriad of new challenges, increased pressures and added responsibilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Charlotte, N.C.-based company also offers virtual versions of the COVID-19 Protocol Check and the Critical Food Safety Check.
"This is a fluid situation around the country right now, and we are trying to adapt to the needs of our clients," said Doug Sutton, president of Steritech. "With curfews and restrictions on dine-in restaurants, many of our clients are transitioning to take on additional responsibilities to provide for their communities. It's important to not lose focus on food safety during this time, while also maintaining the overall safety of employees and customers."