Philip Morris is to utilise the other methods of communication with stores built under lockdown to improve its support for stores now rep visits have returned.

Kate O’Dowd, head of field force at the tobacco giant told betterRetailing: “We have been remotely contacting our retailers since the lockdown began and in listening to their feedback we restarted our field visits into convenience stores from 18th May to support them on the ground. Our reps going out are purely contingent on individual comfort levels and there is no pressure for any employee to go into the field.”

Discussing the current focus of its in store support, O’Dowd explained: “Our first priority is always safety. We have made it clear to our reps that they must follow the government’s social distancing guidelines. Our next priority is to engage retailers on the menthol cigarette ban – to help raise awareness and understanding of IQOS and heated tobacco as a category and the support we are giving them through our buy-back scheme.

Even though its team is now back on the road, Philip Morris plans to continue utilising the skills its team learnt under lockdown. The head of field force commented: “we have now developed a hybrid approach to how we work and communicate with retailers. This includes both remote and face to face visits where applicable. The feedback from retailers is that they are busier than ever and welcome our ongoing support, be that remotely or in person.”

Asked what processes stores must follow to keep reps safe during visits, the spokesperson responded: “We are asking retailers to adhere to guidance on social distancing and engaging with us while wearing PPE.”



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