With so many businesses struggling during the coronavirus pandemic, there is one sector of retail that has truly risen to the challenge. Refill stores are not just surviving, but thriving, despite facing the very same obstacles that other high-street retailers are up against.
So why are people turning to their local refill stores instead of their supermarkets, and what are refill stores doing differently that’s helping them to meet demand? It all comes down to the unique way these stores operate, and their incorporation of modern technology with traditional customer service. Here’s what we discovered…
The Supply Chain
Buying in bulk not only allows refill stores to offer more competitive pricing on staple products, but also ensures that they have more supply than demand at any given point. While this may not seem particularly beneficial in normal circumstances, it comes into its own when unexpected events lead to panic buying and shortages in the supply chain.
There’s also the added bonus of not relying on supplier-manufactured packaging to be able to supply goods. While the rest of the UK struggled to buy flour, not because of supply issues, but due to a nationwide shortage of the bags used to package it, refill stores had no such problem. With customers being encouraged, as always, to bring their own storage containers, refill stores have been able to continue to distribute their goods into any jar, bag or other receptacle on hand.
Social Distancing, Done Right.
While having access to bulk goods undoubtedly gave refill stores a leg up on their fellow retailers, there’s another factor that pushed them forward too. Unlike other retailers who struggled to cope with social distancing measures, many refill stores were able to offer their customers the option of placing their order over the phone or by email, and then collecting from the store at a specified time.
As well as being an efficient and convenient way to provide a service, it also allowed for a greater number of customers to shop without increasing the risk of infection.
The way that refill stores have adapted to lockdown and the pandemic at large has been commendable, not just for the customers who are able to continue accessing a wide range of eco-friendly, refillable products, but also for suppliers like us, who depend on suppliers to continue stocking our goods.
So, next time you’re short of bread-flour or *ahem* shaving cream, why not give the supermarket a miss and try your local refill store instead.