As we continue through the COVID crisis there are two big questions on everyone’s mind: when will a vaccine be available and what is life going to be like when the pandemic is over? There are reports that a vaccine may be available by the end of the year. I hope that is correct, but when that happens how much will our daily habits have changed? Will things go back to the way they were last January or have there been long term changes to the way we act and live? For StrasGlobal to be successful over the long term, we have to adapt to the changing market.
I’m pleased to report that the StrasGlobal management team met Tuesday (virtually) to discuss how our customers’ shopping habits and expectations are changing. We looked at information put together by industry analysts who are trying to define what the convenience store industry is going to look like after the pandemic starts to wind down and the accompanying economic crisis plays out. They used information gathered from countries that have already made it through the COVID crises to forecast what that future will look like in the US.
These analysts believe that the average consumer is going to be looking for easy/frictionless shopping opportunities, businesses that care about them, and great values. StrasGlobal is already moving to meet these new objectives. We’ve talked in the past about making shopping easier and safe with the online ordering and home delivery program that we are currently rolling out.
Our caring is already demonstrated by our outstanding customer service and our outreach programs to work with local communities. We want our customers to know that we are part of their neighborhood and that we have an interest in what happens in the community and support the community’s members.
In Tuesday’s meeting we talked about providing value to the customer. One way that we are going to do this is to start adding more traditional grocery items to our store product mix so that our customers don’t have to go to a large grocery store. Instead they can make quick trips and shop locally. We are going to be focusing on items such as eggs, milk, butter, meat, fresh vegetables and fruit, household cleaners, and personal grooming items – things that people need around the house on a regular basis.
Key to making this program a success is promoting it to our existing customer base as well as attracting new customers. We don’t just want a larger slice of the pie, we want to make the pie bigger. Our customers need to know that we are doing something different in the store and that we can meet more of their needs when they stop at our location. Perry Kilgo, Chief Operating Officer, and Wendy Woods, Director of Operations and Marketing, will be leading the charge to determine what products we need to stock and how we are going to promote them.
We are hoping to start rolling out some test programs in a couple of months and I’ll keep you updated as to how things go. This is an exciting time to be in the convenience industry – there are going to be many new opportunities and we want to be ready to take advantage of them when they are spotted.