The need for retailers to adopt digital technology was unexpectedly accelerated in March 2020 as the world locked down to safeguard public health amidst the global pandemic.
With convenience retail stores classified in many countries as an essential service, to supply gas and basic products for consumers, innovative solutions including contactless payments and the ability to pre-order and pre-pay for products became essential to build trust with customers, as the focus on long-term loyalty initiatives became a secondary concern.
This short show discusses some of the simple solutions available to retailers at this unprecedented time.
1) Bob Stein
Speaker 0 (0s): Let’s Talk Loyalty is an industry podcast for loyalty marketing professionals. I’m your host, Paula Thomas and if you work in loyalty marketing, join me every week to learn the latest ideas from loyalty specialists around the world.
Welcome to episode 117 of Let’s Talk Loyalty, a summary of a show from the end of March, 2020.
As the global pandemic unfolded as the full scale of the COVID-19 pandemic started to emerge dramatic policy decisions were being made around the world with borders, closing airlines, grounding their fleets and the world of retail closing down almost overnight. Business owners and consumers were equally shocked by the unprecedented changes. So I took the opportunity to do a show about solutions, to support the incredible unforeseen challenges.
I invited Bob Stein onto the show who is a veteran of the C-store industry with many years, experience both operationally and strategically supporting retailers across that sector, which across north America had just been identified by the department of Homeland security as an essential service to continue trading convenience stores were officially categorized as an essential retail sector that consumers could rely on as well as the emergency services themselves.
So everyone could continue to have access to fuel and our everyday needs throughout lockdown. Now, many of you already know that I have written a book called driving loyalty in convenience retail, because it’s a sector that boats over a million stores worldwide with over 152,000 in north America alone, offering essential products, food service. And of course fuel one incredible statistic that we discussed on this show is that 50% of Americans visit a convenience store every day of their lives.
And it became a critical function, particularly in those early days of lockdown, ensuring that basic products and fuel were available for communities. And for first responders, Bob himself highlighted the psychological value of being able to walk down the street to a local convenience store as a great way to feel part of the community and still somewhat connected to humanity while maintaining social distancing protocols, we then talked through why the C-store industry was so late to join the loyalty industry.
In years, gone by C store. Customers were simply into much of a rush. Retail was slow and cumbersome, and therefore retailers were keen to avoid the idea of adding any delay or friction for customers by asking them to sign up and share personal data for sometimes low transaction values. Instead, retailers relied on coupons and discounting the promotional activity typically driven by consumer products and brands, but more recently, these retailers had realized the importance and potential of engaging with their customers with a goal of creating loyalty to the overall branch, with the new COVID imperative to support customers in a more socially distance and hygienic way.
Bob was really great at explaining the power of a concept called order and pay a solution for retailers even far simpler than building an e-commerce solution. Quite simply a technology that can be easily plugged into any loyalty program or retailer’s app, including one solution available from the technology firm that Bob and I both work for called liquid barcodes with an order and pay solution.
Retailers can set up a platform to sell their top products really quickly within the space of a week. And it would allow customers to pre-order and pre-pay providing an extremely valuable and socially responsible solution for consumers to shop safely. It’s an incredible way to create customer loyalty, combining the reassurance of contactless purchases alongside the operational efficiencies of having the customer’s order ready for collection when they drop by in closing, Bob mentioned the incredible resources available for convenience retailers from next, the industry body that supports the entire industry with everything from policymaking through to education and information in this unprecedented time for retailers that’s
Speaker 0 (5m 7s): It from this. So let’s talk a little loyalty if you’d like to listen to the full show. It’s just 25 minutes long and it’s episode 28 of let’s talk loyalty. This show is sponsored by the wise market here. The world’s most popular source of loyalty, marketing news insights and research. The wise marketeer also offers loyalty marketing training through its loyalty academy, which has already certified over 170 executives in 20 countries as certified loyalty and marketing professionals.
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