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7-Eleven shares best practices for dealing with COVID-19 crisis

Canadian convenience, car wash and gas businesses have worked hard to keep employees and customers safe during COVID-19. Behind the effort was a reliance on best practices from workers and their companies.

UnknownA good case in point is 7-Eleven Canada, a community retailer with 636 convenience locations across British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario, of which more than half offer fuel and 99 of those feature car washes. Throughout the pandemic, 7-Eleven Canada has provided safe access to essential fuel, food and convenience products to meet the needs of its customers.

7-Eleven Canada was quick to put together a leadership task force to deal with the impacts of COVID-19 – meeting daily and learning from 7-Eleven teams in other countries, who were experiencing the impacts of the pandemic before Canada. Daily communication was activated with field and store leaders – with real-time direct print capabilities to immediately shift as changes and new regulations were enacted regionally. 7-Eleven’s Team Canada moved quickly to activate COVID-19 controls and prevention measures, while working together with its industry partners to secure the essential service designation for the channel.

Norman Hower, 7-Eleven

Norman Hower, 7-Eleven

“The safety of our customers and employees is always our top priority,” says Norman Hower, 7-Eleven Canada vice-president and general manager. “As an essential service, we’ve followed the direction of public health authorities; and we also took a leadership position by being first movers in activating non-mandatory safety measures, such as face masks and body temperature checks of team members, to enhance the health and safety of our customers and team members, whilst providing our customers with the convenience they know and love.”

Some of 7-Eleven Canada’s prevention measures include, engineering controls like plexiglass sneeze guards at the sales counter and providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to employees. Hand sanitizer is available in-store, and employees are required to change gloves when switching from handling general merchandise to prepared foods. Occupancy limits, floor decals inside the stores and on the outdoor apron, as well as directional arrows control customer traffic and regulate social distancing. Customers paying with cash are encouraged to place their payment on the counter to avoid hand contact.

Protocols to address any positive COVID cases among store employees were developed to include store closures, close communication with team members self-isolating with pay, community notifications, and customer guidance to manage personal health.

At the fuel pumps, POP encourages physical distancing and the use of hand sanitizer and paper towels at the dispenser to cover the nozzle handle when pumping fuel. There is also a push to encourage contactless payment methods at the fuel pumps and in-store to limit person-to-person contact. Currently, many car wash sites in Canada feature a pay kiosk. Sites without offer systems for key-in entry to the wash.

None of this would be possible without the brand’s front-line employees, says Hower. “We are very proud of our store teams who are committed to serving our customers and our communities safely during these challenging times.  Their efforts inspire us all. We’ll continue to ensure the necessary controls and measures are in place, and our store teams are well taken care of.” 

 Kelly Gray can be reached at kgray@ensembleiq.com


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OLG shares best practices for lottery sales during COVID-19 pandemic

Screen Shot 2020-03-23 at 5.15.42 PMThe Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation today released a directive of best practices design to reduce risk and help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In it, the OLG said: “We support all our retail partners and any decisions that they make about their business during this evolving situation. We thank you for your continued partnership.”

Minimize contact

  • Please follow your store’s current policies regarding best practices for physically handling any product.
  • To avoid contact, ask customers to point to the INSTANT ticket they want.
  • Have your customers use the Ticket Checker to check their tickets.
  • Have customers pay with tap when possible at locations equipped to take tap.
  • Tell customers to download the OLG Lottery App as a way to check their tickets from home.
  • Try to promote Advance Play.
  • Encourage customers to sign tickets before coming to the store (so they do not have to use in-store pens).

 Disinfect

  • Keep disinfectant close by and regularly sanitize your Silent Sellers, Playstands and any pens at the cash area or Playstand that are used by customers.
  • Wash your hands as often as possible.

Stay informed

  • Pay attention to OLG lottery terminal messages and pop-ups.
  • Pay attention to public health authorities.

 

In addition, the OLG Prize Centre at Yonge and Dundas Street in Toronto is temporarily closed.

During this closure, please advise winners:

  • Customers can continue to redeem lottery prizes of up to $999.90 at any one of the 10,000 lottery retail outlets provincewide. The payment of these prizes is subject to the availability of cash at specific outlets
  • Customers can continue to mail their prize claims of up to $9,999.90, following the instructions on OLG.ca or by calling the OLG Support Centre at 1-800-387-0098
  • Lottery prizes of $10,000 or more may be redeemed once the Prize Centre is re-opened. In the meantime, OLG is assuring customers that all lottery prizes will be redeemed per their terms and conditions on OLG.ca. The organization is looking at extending the 12-month time period for the redemption of lottery products sold through lottery terminals and PlayOLG.ca; Details to come. The extension would also apply to INSTANT tickets.

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Get social! Savvy convenience retailers create vibrant online communities

 

We’ve seen remarkable change in our lifetimes, but what we’re experiencing now is different. It’s not just evolutionary change; it’s transformative change that requires us to alter our patterns of behaviour and learn new skills. Just having a nice store with nice products and services in a good location isn’t enough anymore.

Consumers are seeking modern conveniences such as mobile apps that can connect them directly with their stores, and you must be willing and able to meet those needs. Although specific apps may not be feasible for certain c-stores, the likelihood that your customers are already using social media is high.

With social media establishing itself as a viable online marketing opportunity, how can you use technology to promote your store and its products and services?

It’s time to get social

The most important point about social media is that it’s a marketing channel not a standalone marketing strategy. Your online marketing objectives should include aiming to grow your business, convert shoppers, educate your shoppers and/or engage your shoppers with a social media plan that offers visibility and connection as well as convenience. The result can be time and money-related savings of your scarce resources for marketing, as well as increased customer loyalty.

Social media allows you to connect with your loyal customers on another, deeper level. Are you considering using or enhancing your social media to promote your business in 2019?

Find your audience

This phrase is used a lot when discussing social media marketing. And it sounds intuitive, right? You must find the people who will want your offerings and target efforts towards them. But putting this phrase into practice can be a bit daunting. You might be asking yourself: Where is my audience? How do I find them?

The first step to answering this question is simple. You must understand the environment of each social media platform. Not only does the type of communication available on each platform differ, but the expectations for communication differ as well. It’s hard to keep up with the many types of social media. So, let’s break this down and look at the social mechanics of each site in this infographic that uses donuts to explain the differences.

Schedule content as you discover it

Creating an effective social media plan can be overwhelming and time-consuming, but by staying organized and planning as much in advance as possible, you can manage all your social media in one place by using a dashboard service for posting.

BothHootsuiteand Bufferoffer free or paid options. On a free version they each allow up to three social sites to post to, and on a paid basis there are plans to suit your needs. If you’re early stage the best strategy to begin is to use both as a free service; that way you’ve got six sites you can post to.

Then measure the impact of your social media campaigns through comprehensive reporting. Both dashboard services come with robust analytics to help you get the most from your activity.  It’s easy to set up, but maintenance can be complicated, so your store should be running well before getting involved in social media because it needs to be consistent and maintained to be effective.

Social media for business

A large portion of social media activity should be generated by the c-store itself and should relate to non-promotional content, such as photos from community events and other activities. About 10% of the content should be generated elsewhere, such as retail news from other sources, and another 10% of content should relate to promotions occurring at your store.

Don’t forget, social media must have that personal touch. It’s what makes your c-store your c-store.

Recommended posting frequency for the most popular social media sites for business:

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Experience accumulates

Don’t get overwhelmed with all the options you hear about. Pick two or three to get started; dip your toe in the water, and wade into the pool from the shallow end first.

Above all…don’t just set it and forget it. Make sure to engage and have conversations with your online community. These conversations just might lead to customers making a visit to your store to engage with you instead of patronizing another retailer.

Screen Shot 2019-09-12 at 12.01.30 PMGerry Spitzner is a business management consultant with an optimistic approach to improving life and business results. Fascinated with why customers buy, trends and a passion for retail, he is dedicated to sharing his thinking with business development strategies to create, engage and keep great customers. For more on his approach, contact him at retailSOS@gmail.com.