Coca-Cola European Partners has promised to put its field force back on the road by the end of June in order to help independent stores seize the opportunities presented by the coronavirus.

The supplier’s field sales director Alison Adderley, told betterRetailing: “We have been working remotely to support retailers throughout this national crisis. With the right PPE and social distancing measures now in place, it is likely that our convenience field sales colleagues will start visiting stores again later in June.”

Explaining the process for visits resuming, Adderley said: “Upon our first visit to a retailer, we will ask whether they have implemented the government guidelines on social distancing in store and agree the best time for us to call. In line with this guidance, we can only visit outlets where the right social distancing practices are maintained.”

Asked about the priorities of reps returning to stores, Adderley revealed: “The coronavirus crisis has highlighted the critical role convenience retailers play in their communities, as people have relied on them for essentials and top up purchases. Our priority is to help convenience stores retain the new customers they’ve gained during lockdown while continuing to serve long-term loyal shoppers, by ensuring they offer the products people want.”

Discussing the trends that would help stores retain new custom, the director explained: “We know that shoppers are increasingly interested in value for money – with many households taking a cut in income recently – but they’re still looking to treat themselves with products like carbonated drinks and snacks. At the same time, people are buying more products to enjoy later within the home, which has seen an increase in demand for bigger packs such as large PET bottles and multipack cans of soft drinks.

“Our field sales teams will therefore focus on what range and pack formats convenience retailers need to stock to meet the demands of the post-Covid 19 shopper in convenience. For example, price-marked packs (PMPs) tap into consumer demand for visible value, reassuring shoppers that they can get the products they want, without being overcharged.”

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