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We Are Preparing for 2030. Are you?

Preparing for 2030
There is a quote, usually attributed to Rahm Emanuel, that “no good crisis should go to waste”.  That is our feeling at StrasGlobal. We are in the process of using the lessons that we have been learning during the COVID-19 crisis to change the way we operate our business and to incorporate new ideas and strategies for the long term. We are calling this StrasGlobal 2030.

StrasGlobal 2030 will concentrate on the following areas: health and safety, changing customer expectations, product assortment, technology, communications, food service, and community outreach.

Health and safety. The repercussions of the COVID-19 crisis are going to remain with us for years to come. Our first priority is always the safety of our team and our customers.  At StrasGlobal, we are anticipating that the transformation in public expectations and government requirements will be similar to the differences in the pre- and post-9/11 world. Our customers and staff will expect, and we will provide, more programs at the store designed to protect our team and our customers from infectious diseases.  For example, we are considering to what extent we maintain our PPE requirements for our team members on a permanent basis.

We are also expecting more regulations and certifications to be required by the authorities to protect public and employee health. Fortunately, in order to meet the regulatory environment, StrasGlobal has developed Compliance Safe (compliancesafe.com) which allows us to manage permits and licenses, track expiration dates, and to store and remotely access permits and documents. Compliance Safe was a huge advantage when our local authorities closed their offices during the lock downs. Compliance Safe reminded us about expiration dates so that we got our renewal applications in on time. We were also able to remotely access and retrieve our permits and licenses through Compliance Safe without having to visit our office or the stores.

 Changing customer needs. Our customers’ ideas as to what “convenience” means to them are going to change dramatically from what they were in 2019. New expectations are going to arise around health and safety, product range, online services, and food service. Even though we have had offers in all of these areas over the last few years, we are now committing our time and resources for them to have a bigger impact on what we present to the customer.

Product assortment.  We are expecting our customers to want our stores to be more like the local mini markets of the 1960s and 70s and less like today’s snack and smoke shops. The center of the store categories, such as groceries and pet foods, will become more important as people shop closer to home and visit crowded supermarkets less often because of the risk of infection. Also, we think that customers will remember the scarcity of groceries at the beginning of the crisis and will want to diversify their shopping options.  We are expecting the fresh produce, dairy, and frozen food categories to make a comeback as people continue to do more cooking at home.

Technology. Our customers are going to expect us to leverage our technology in order to decrease their personal exposure to infection. They will want more contactless ways to shop.  Our advantage over Amazon and other online fulfillment centers is that we can provide an almost immediate solution – they don’t have to wait for next day delivery or schedule a pickup time hours, or days, in advance.  We have already started rolling out our online ordering and curbside service (ordereveryday.com) and are finishing up a home delivery program as I am writing this column.  In addition, we are expanding our contactless payment systems onto ours parking lots so customers who order by phone, or in person, don’t have to enter the store to pay.

Communications. It became painfully obvious to us at the beginning of the crisis that we did not have a comprehensive way to communicate directly with our customers. We could not tell them that we were open, what safety precautions we were taking, or what products we had in stock.  We are now enhancing our customer loyalty program so that we can collect more customer contact information as well as providing a more sophisticated online communications platform.

Food service We think that the high frequency of meals cooked at home will not significantly diminish after the COVID-19 crisis. As people continue to work from home, the number of eating outside the house events will remain lower than they have over the last decade.  This will have an impact on our food service business. We are going to increase our focus on providing the ingredients necessary for cooking at home and on prepared food for take-out.

Community outreach. We are working to create more partnerships with local businesses so that we have, and can provide, a better support network for the communities where we operate the next time we have a lockdown. Our initiatives include creating retail opportunities for businesses that were considered non-essential and had to close, providing employment to other businesses’ employees if they have to have layoffs or furloughs, and utilizing the supply chains of other companies, such as restaurants, if our own supply chain becomes disrupted.

The COVID-19 crisis is teaching us many things and is the catalyst for many changes. One of the silver linings of the crisis is that in the future, StrasGlobal will be a stronger and better prepared company.

Published in: CSP Magazine July 2020

Roy Strasburger is the President of StrasGlobal. For 35 years StrasGlobal has been the choice of global oil brands, distressed assets managers, real estate lenders and private investors seeking a complete, turn-key retail management solution from the most experienced team in the industry.

Contact him at roy@strasglobal.com.