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Champions of customer convenience

customer convenience

We discover how bp and Countdown are employing exceptional customer convenience strategies for better retail experiences.

As a society we are becoming increasingly more impatient. For many, time is money, and consumers are willing to spend more if it means they’ll save time and effort. Taking this on board, Kiwi retailers bp and Countdown have both undergone initiatives to cater to their customers and provide a convenient retail experience.

When the country went into its first Lockdown back in March, the Countdown team was already hard at work following a mass of panic buying and a highly increased demand for contactless delivery. With an overwhelming influx of customers, Countdown’s digital team CountdownX worked across several platforms to ensure their customers would have the best retail experience possible during the Covid-19 environment.

Throughout March and April, Countdown increased its online grocery delivery capacity by 60 percent, designed and launched its priority assistance service within five days to support more than 120,000 vulnerable Kiwis, registered more than 200,000 new online customers, opened the country’s first dedicated supermarket e-store, converted five of its stores into ‘dark stores’, and in less than one week, developed an e-queue system in-house.

Sally Copland, Countdown acting managing director

The work of the team saw CountdownX feature as a finalist in the Business Transformation through Digital and IT category for its initial Covid-19 response. Sally Copland, general manager at CountdownX, and Countdown’s current acting managing director, was also named New Zealand CIO of the year.

“I’m incredibly grateful for this award and so proud to see the CountdownX team recognised for their work to rapidly scale existing services, develop new technology, and respond at an unbelievable pace,” Copland says.

As one of the few businesses operating throughout Level 4, Copland says that the team was under an unbelievable amount of responsibility and pressure.

“We’d been preparing for a lockdown situation and we were monitoring the response internationally to get plans in place, but at the same time we were also dealing with unprecedented times, so sticking to plans isn’t always an option,” she says.

“It’s incredible to look back on what the team has achieved this year, not only during lockdown but in getting back to business as usual and continuing to innovate for our customers however they choose to shop with us.”

Another retailer meeting customer needs is bp and its latest initiative fast & Fresh.

Offering fresh, high-quality meals and products to time poor consumers, the initiative is the next step in bp’s convenience retailing strategy.

In 2016, the company launched the bpme app which allows customers to pay for fuel from their car and order coffee in advance. In 2018 bp then introduced Good Mood Food, offering customers Krispy Kreme doughnuts, Häagen-Dazs ice cream and Wishbone take home meals. With Uber Eats as the holy grail of customer convenience, in 2019 it was only natural for bp to then offer its Wild Bean Cafe as an option on the food delivery platform.

bp spokesperson Gordon Gillan, says the team wanted to develop and offer for on the go Kiwis.

“Customer behaviour is changing and people are doing smaller grocery shops more often. There’s also been a rise in pre-packaged and prepared meal options. Those are the two key factors behind the initiative,” Gillan says.

fast & fresh will bring together wholesome meal options sourced from a mix of local New Zealand suppliers, alongside other brand favourites that are easy to assemble at home. The ‘store within a store’ concept offers customers a selection of quality snacks, nibbles and meal elements with products like free-range Waitoa chicken from the Waikato, Whitestone Cheese from Oamaru and Cottage Lane Artisan Bread crafted in the Wairarapa.

“The reason we chose those products is because they compliment our core range of snacks and drinks, while Wild Bean Cafe has other food items available. fast & fresh is something new and different.”

bp is working with its partners in all areas of customer convenience retailing to make sure its service stations are places to refuel and recharge both now and in the future.

fast & fresh will be trialled at two bp Connect stores in Auckland, including Clifton Takapuna and Newmarket, as well as one bp Connect store In Christchurch at Rolleston. Customer feedback from these stores will inform the next phase of development.

“It’s very early days and the big challenge is getting our customers aware of fast & fresh,” says Gillan. “We’re really looking forward to seeing how these pilots go and how our customers respond, we’ll take that feedback and put it towards future development.”

Gillan says the service station will continue to evolve as an experience for Kiwis on the go.

“Its all about the convenience. The customers are at the heart of bp.”

The growing demand for prepared meals, tap and go payments, click and collect, virtual stores and so on, demonstrate just how fast-paced the world is becoming. With this in mind, retailers should be re-evaluating their offering to ensure their customers have the best possible retail experience.

Read more: 5 benefits of a pop-up store

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