A key industry supplier says consumers will expect even more from their local convenience store due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

DCS Chief Commercial Officer Clare Bocking believes the crisis will see an even greater focus on key categories, including household and health products, with the channel needing to pay even more attention to data to identify demand.

Bocking, speaking as part of TWC’s Sound Bites series, said the channel’s current focus should be on getting its offering right to ensure it makes the most of the convenience boom.

“For me, the role of the convenience store will have changed going forward,” said Bocking. “Plus the categories we are most expert in – household, health and beauty – will remain higher engagement categories than they were before the crisis.

“So we’re working now on how we can support the industry with best possible category insight and advice, in order to make sure the industry continues to benefit from the increased number of footfall and basket spend that we’re seeing.

“How we use data and digital moving forward should be a real gamechanger. I know the independent convenience stores collectively across the country offer more home delivery slots than the major grocers do currently.

“We all have a role to play in maintaining this new normal in the industry we’re passionate about and, as lockdown lifts, how data and digital is used in the next phase of this industry’s evolution will be fascinating.”

Due to current trends, DCS’s brands have been in high demand since March, with sales of Calpol, Domestos, Dettol and Cif going through the roof.

And while the business has increased its production capabilities at its manufacturing plants, DCS has been working hard to ensure it honours all customer orders – even if some are with substitute products.

Alongside this, DCS has taken parts in lots of activity, including support the NHS with cleaning products and supplying foodbanks.

“Probably our biggest challenge is the unprecedented demand that we’ve had over the past six weeks,” added Bocking.

“We’re in daily contact with our suppliers and for several weeks we’ve had more than 500 lines on allocation, some of them not available.

“So helping our suppliers understand the volume of demand we’re experiencing and getting the right stock out to our customers has been a huge challenge, even though we’re making progress. As an example of volumes, in the first week of lockdown, we sold nearly two-and-a-half months of Calpol in a week.

“We’ve had records days in the warehouse for pallets shipped and loads handled, even though the majority of our high street and discount customers are closed, which shows the scale of what we’ve been working through.”

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