Covid-19 Resources | Retail

Tips for Converting Into a Retail Grocery Shop During COVID-19

Apr 04, 2020

Tips for Converting Into a Retail Grocery Shop During COVID-19

If you’re already offering curbside takeout, why not give your customers the opportunity to pick up some of the items they can’t get in their local supermarket?

Many traditional grocery stores find themselves unable to keep basic panty items in stock, thanks to COVID-19. Meanwhile, restaurants and foodservice distributors are loaded with food and other items, just sitting on the shelves.  

Some, like the like the Root Café in Little Rock, Arkansas, have capitalized this opportunity to retail their own inventory to the public to create a new or additional revenue stream, keep their staffs busy and serve takeout and delivery customers who are out of the basics.

Here are some tips to help you get started:

1. Check out your local grocery stores to see what’s out of stock. Think about the types of items you’ve been going to the grocery store to pick up regularly. Some of these items might include:

• Bread, eggs, milk, frozen potato products, cheese, ground beef, soup, pasta, rice, etc.
• Toilet paper, bleach and cleaning supplies

2. Start with items you already have in stock. Add to your selection as you see what customers are looking for.

3. Set up your dining room for retail. Move the chairs out of your dining room, but keep the tables to use to merchandise your products. Make sure you leave space between your “displays” so customers can move freely and maintain safe social distancing. Move some of your back of house equipment to the front to display merchandise:

• Speed racks and wire shelving
• Coolers and freezers for dairy and other cold items

4. Make sure you label products without retail packaging (like poly bags of frozen potato products) in accordance with the FDA’s temporary labeling guidelines.

5. Keep it safe. Provide hand sanitizer at your door and register. Mark the floor at check out and outside the entrance with tape to maintain 6 feet of separation between people in line. Limit the number of customers to maintain safe distancing. Require staff to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) like gloves and masks. For more detailed safety info, consult these resources:

National Grocers Association COVID-19 Resources
FDA guidelines
CDC guidelines

6. Market your market like mad. Use your social media accounts, email lists and exterior signage to let the world know you’re offering food on a retail basis. Use Facebook’s live video feature regularly to showcase your selection, new items, safety measures, etc. Hand out flyers in your immediate neighborhood to get the word out.

Bear in mind margins are lower on retail food items, but so is the labor overhead compared to the restaurant business. As long as your dining room is empty, you might as well be putting it to use.

We’re here to serve you. If there’s anything we can do to help, please reach out to your Simplot rep.