Caring for the Community: Natural Products Retailers and Coronavirus

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Conceptual illustration of the coronavirus as if it were observed from a microscope. Recently it was discovered in china and its outbreak is feared by the authorities.

By Scott Steinford, Founder, Trust Transparency Center and Traci Kantowski, Communications Director, Trust Transparency Center

 

The current environment surrounding the coronavirus COVID-19 is unlike one any of us have seen, and retailers have a key role to play. The safety of customers and employees is paramount. Whether you believe the outbreak is real or exaggerated, the attention to extra hygiene and cleanliness is a great opportunity for the small retailer to show the power and care of the community. 

This situation also offers an opportunity for natural products retailers to differentiate from mass market and enhance their relationship with customers. Some steps to take:

Offer extra service on a personalized basis, if possible:

  • Contact primary customers via phone, email or social media to inform them of the extra care and precautions your establishment and employees are taking to ensure safety and cleanliness.
  • Offer phone ordering.
  • Offer order pick-up, carryout and delivery if possible, to customers.
  • Offer curbside delivery.
  • If limited quantities or out of stocks occur, note the request and offer to call and/or email the customer when the product is in stock again.

Protect employees and guests

  • Gloves: Cashiers should wear gloves that they change after each customer. This protects the cashier and helps consumers.
  • Place disinfecting wipes and/or hand sanitizer at every entrance, and by carts/baskets, produce section and at every register.
  • Regular cleaning. Have cashiers wipe down their register, counter/belt, etc. with disinfecting spray and wipes and spray their clothes every hour.
  • Position an employee to wipe down any self-serve kiosk stations after each guest finishes use.
  • Bulk foods: Station an employee at the bulk foods area to serve customers vs. them self-serving.
  • Stop sampling or if you need to continue, do not set out any food items. Have the demo person distribute on an individual basis and ensure they are wearing gloves.
  • Deep clean your store, baskets and carts every night. 
  • Individually wrap prepared foods.

Communication

  • Be open and honest with customers. If you’re running low or out of stock on high demand items like hand sanitizer, send an email, and post to social media to let them know what’s going on.
  • Post signs around the store reminding people to wash their hands and of the steps you’re taking to protect them. 
  • Reinforce to employees that they should stay home if they’re not feeling well. Communicate that policy to your customers.
  • Share health tips on your social channels.

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