ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Convenience stores have long posted on social media to connect with customers, but in today’s heightened climate of concern about the coronavirus, retailers are using their websites, Facebook and Twitter to keep customers up-to-date on changes at the store level.
On March 13, Sheetz posted a letter from Travis Sheetz about COVID-19 to its customers: “For nearly 70 years, our family has committed to providing a Total Customer Focus (TCF) in everything we do. During this challenging time, that commitment will not change. While the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and rapidly changing environment surroundings have produced a lot of fear and anxiety, I want to assure you that Sheetz is prioritizing the health and well-being of our team members, customers and communities above all else,” the letter read in part.
One Facebook fan responded, “Thank you sheetz for taking care of your staff... i love my local one and the team there.”
Kum & Go also posted a letter from CEO Kyle Krause on March 16: “Our priority has always been the safety and well-being of our associates and customers. As we’ve been monitoring the evolving situation of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), this priority has remained paramount,” Krause wrote. The letter outlined all the ways Kum & Go was insuring both customer and staff safety.
One Facebook response said, “Thank you for posting this. The Kum and Go in my location is extremely busy at times and it's good to know as a company Kum and go is taking cleanliness seriously.”
Casey’s General Store posted a notice to guests on March 12 about the coronavirus: “As our local communities prepare for, or deal with some of the first impacts of the coronavirus, I wanted to share directly with you, our guests, the actions Casey’s is taking to help keep our team members and guests safe. First, and most important, the health and wellbeing of our people and communities is a priority. We are making decisions with this in mind, while continuing our mission of being here for guests. Our stores are open and we are working hard to keep the products you love available.”
Casey’s also announced it would no longer allow customers to bring in refillable drink containers, which triggered some customer complaints online. However, Casey’s responded to the concerns by reminding customers that “where possible, we want to continue to offer our guests easy service. In some states we are modifying this practice based on government requirements. We are evaluating this practice as we have new information and feedback. This is an immediate action we could take to help further protect our guests and team members as we evaluate high-traffic areas and high-touch surfaces.”
Over on Twitter, High’s reached out to their community to assure customers of the measures they are taking to keep their stores healthy and safe: “All High’s locations are currently operating everyday on regular scheduled hours. We assure you that we’re doing all we can to provide a clean & healthy environment. We‘ll remain open to support our community during this hard time. We have a variety of food & essentials available”.
Pilot Flying J kept its social media community updated on operations with this March 16 Facebook post: “All of our locations are currently open, including showers and restrooms. We have no plans to close at this time. We will continue to update as necessary.” The chain also asked guests to use a new cup to refill their favorite cup or mug with no additional charges outside the normal refill price.
The notification generated positive feedback from customers, who said things like “Thanks pilot and flying J. Us otr truckers have very few, safe and legal places to park. Please remain open for us!” and “Thank you for all you do. Lake station Indiana clean, friendly, and the management team goes out of the way to make you feel at home.”
Wawa last week fielded a Twitter poll to let its customers know that the Pennsylvania-based c-store chain delivers. Only 23% of the respondents who took the poll said they knew about Wawa delivery.
NACS has compiled resources to help the convenience retail community navigate the COVID-19 crisis. For news updates and guidance, visit our coronavirus resources page.