Who knew that toilet paper of all things would be the end all be all product of our century. Seeing those shelves empty for the first time was like a lightning bolt. What am I going to do? What is happening? WHY is this happening? No one would answer my questions. Managers had a bewildered look on their faces and stock crews sheepishly hid in the back room. Just paper signs of “out of stock” were posted all over the place.
Looking back now I understand the importance of communication and how the “lack” of it instilled fear in consumers. Those initial days of shortage and the fear of the unknown propelled us into a hoarding frenzy. If only we had known that more transparency could have allied some of the fear that catapulted us into the great Toilet Paper Famine of 2020. If only we had known what we know now.
I read an article @www.grocerydive.com last week that was a great read. I recommend it to every retailer if we want to learn from the past year. Managing communications is paramount in maintaining the trust of customers as an organization. This is a message we need to carry forward into the future.
“Grocers must be sympathetic in their communications while striving to be a source of comfort and constancy. Those who fulfill this role well stand to strengthen relationships and brand loyalty with customers” – Joel Staley
As an in-store audio messaging provider I can tell you that we experienced the importance of sympathetic and sincere communication firsthand. It was quickly apparent that a need for Covid-19 PSA’s and custom messages in-store was needed. Each retailer while experiencing the same issues had to find a way to communicate how they were addressing the issues themselves. State mandate, local mandates, CDC recommendations, they were just bombarded with trying to make shoppers aware of their new policies, preventative measures, supply shortage limitations and new shopping hours just to name a few. It was a lot for them to handle on top of being short staffed daily.
We realized we were in a unique position to do our part to assist retailers in communicating relevant, authentic and time sensitive messaging during the fluid pandemic. Compassion and strength became our mantra. Hence Adergy’s “Community Strong” was created. A free service to all retailers where they can log on to our website www.adergy.com and receive free Covid related PSA’s. I tell you, did we become busy overnight. Keeping up with the fluidity of the pandemic was more challenging than I initially anticipated. No state, region or county was experiencing the same issue at the same time, but we got the hang of it. Today we have a library of hundreds of PSAs to choose from.
Thousands of our current customers required assistance in creating messaging that addressed online shopping platforms, couponing options and delivery services in addition to weekly product sales. Again, communication became key to building trust with all shoppers, not just Gen Z and Millennials. Realizing they had a direct line of communication through their speaker and audio became a key component of each retailer’s strategy in 2020, and 2021 is no different.
While messages are changing the need to communicate has not. Retailers need to continue to adapt and evolve in 2021. Consumers have become more open to trying new brands and new categories, a direct result of supply chain shortages. Digital coupons have had a significant increase in usage. On-line services have expanded for convenience and local sourcing has risen.
I cannot stress enough the importance of telling your brand’s unique story. It‘s important for retailers to engage with shoppers differently now and meet their expectations for savings, digital solutions and product availability. Compassion and transparency go a long way…maybe those Millennials were onto something?
Blue Skies Everyone!