Stand & Deliver
The coronavirus pandemic is affecting every walk of life. However, it would be wrong to panic.
While more than 4.1 million people have tested positive for COVID-19 across the globe, and more than 283,000 have died, more than 1.4 million have also recovered from the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University.
It only seems as if the entire world has shut down. Depending on where you live, movies, Broadway shows, sports events, concerts, political rallies, schools, restaurants and bars may all be closed for the foreseeable future. Convenience stores in the U.S. are mostly open and providing consumers with the food, drinks and other essentials they need to carry on in these stressful times.
Most convenience store retailers appear to be taking the proper precautions, prioritizing the health and welfare of their customers and employees, while doing their best to avoid fueling the hysteria that is sweeping the nation.
As we have reported, many c-store chains announced that they’ve stepped up their cleaning, personal hygiene and sanitizing procedures; are providing checklists to help store associates follow proper safety procedures to prevent spread of the virus; and are sending physical and digital notices to their customers to inform them of these efforts.
Not to minimize the threat of COVID-19, there are some potential bright spots for c-store retailers:
- If you’re not testing home delivery yet, this is the time to start. C-stores have trailed restaurants in this service for several reasons, not the least being the high fees charged by some third-party delivery services. With governments and health organizations recommending social distancing, demand for home delivery is spiking. With a broader product mix than most restaurants can offer, c-stores have a prime opportunity to increase share in the home delivery business.
- Retailers like Walmart, Target and Walgreens are promoting their curbside pickup businesses. Some c-stores have already incorporated order-ahead apps into their foodservice business. These apps allow customers to order their meal ahead and pick it up in the store. What about applying this same concept to pump-side pickup? Wouldn’t this be a great way to draw fuel customers into the store even after this crisis is over?
- If you have a drive-thru, promote it heavily.
- This also couldn’t be a better time for cashierless, frictionless technology, which can help reduce in-store personal interactions and achieve social distancing.
It is time to embrace all the digital tools available that make shopping easier and less touchy.