During the early peak of Coronavirus in March 2020, the nation prepared for the unknown by stockpiling food… and toilet rolls. This undoubtedly put a lot of pressure on retailers and their ability to manage the sudden unexpected spike in demand.
With large supermarkets cleared of pasta, flour and hand soaps within 24 hours, it was often left to local shops to keep the most-vulnerable stocked up and safe.
We spoke to Paymentsense customer Tony Field, owner Rushlake Green Village Stores to find out how he transformed his corner shop into a personal shopping and delivery service for his community.
Not only did Tony manage to revolutionise his model within a matter of weeks, but he also kept business flourishing by adapting to contact-free payment methods with Paymentsense.
Delivering where it matters
Why was it important to operate with a new delivery service?
Our shop was functioning business as usual for customers to come in two per time. However, we have a lot of elderly people in remote areas that were really worried about contact with others, and also the added pressure of accessing necessities.
That’s why we implemented our delivery service, to personally shop for the elderly or at-risk members of the community.
What challenges did you face, moving to personal delivery?
In a shop as small as ours, it was really difficult and time consuming to pick things off the shelves for people while maintaining the two metre rule. You’re having to wait for people to get out of the way of the chiller, so you can pick the cheese for the person who ordered it online.
Taking the shop to the green
Was it difficult with such a small space to serve customers in a timely manner?
Yes definitely, our shop is very narrow so even with two people,we always worry about social contact, because customers have to pass very close to get to the other end of the shop.
When you go through the door, you’ve got the till on the right hand side and say somebody is standing by the till, it’s physically difficult to get into the shop without being less than two meters from them.
How did you counteract these problems, to limit queueing?
Outside our shop, there’s a seating area on the village green. People can sit there and wave at us, and we’ll go out and serve them there. So, for people that don’t want to physically come into the shop, we can do their shopping and bring it out to them.
We could only achieve this with the Paymentsense mobile card machines, which we took to people’s homes for them to pay for their delivery, or on the green for them to purchase without coming inside the store.
It pays to be cautious
How have you found taking payments outside of the store?
We found that a lot of people want to pay by direct bank transfer, as they are still quite cautious of touching card machines or handling cash. So, we’ve got a few of our delivery customers who prefer to pay that way.
Has the increase in the spend for contactless payments helped?
Yes. It has come in at just the right time. Customers who feel at risk, or worried, typically make sure their order is less than £45 pounds, so they don’t even have to put the card into the machine. They can just tap.
Are you seeing a decline in cash payments?
We are seeing a significant drop in cash payments. It used to be about 70% was cash and we’re now down to about 30% or 40%.
Staying loyal to locals
Once the pandemic has ended, do you think locals will continue to spend with you?
I think a lot of people didn’t initially come to the shop because they assumed we wouldn’t have what they needed. Now they’ve come in because they’ve had to and they don’t want to queue for a long time outside Waitrose.
I think people realise that they can get most of what they want from us and we’re not that much more expensive, so I’m hopeful this will continue.
We’re selling a lot of local foods. Our green grocer tries to source all the vegetables and fruit as locally as he can. We’re supporting other independent businesses and selling great quality produce with a low carbon footprint.
Taking safe payments over the phone, on the green, or at the doorstep
We’ve never had a problem using Paymentsense services and it’s been very positive. We wouldn’t be able to do the deliveries without having a reliable payment system like Paymentsense, that’s for sure.
The ability to take payments over the phone as well, has been very useful, which I couldn’t do on the console on the integrated unit, but I can on the handheld.
Thanks to Paymentsense for making it all so easy!