Retail in the Time of COVID-19, Part 5: Joining Forces

Robert Palma, VP, Retail Vertical Sales

Do you remember a time when people in your neighborhood knew all the local retailers in town? From pharmacies to supermarkets, florists and toy stores, these local shops were vital components of their communities. They sponsored our Little League teams, subsidized Boy and Girl Scout events, and supported High School fundraisers, by donating products and gift certificates. Reciprocal, long-standing relationships grew from these powerful bonds. Retailer’s contribution — genuine “giving back” — was the foundation of these relationships.

Over the past 10+ years, there have been many dramatic changes in the retail industry — increased competition, widespread adoption of technology, and challenges with eCommerce platforms. In response to these advancements, retailers have upgraded approaches, and altered omnichannel solutions. But among the efforts for professional success, a generosity shines through — businesses need to do well, but they also need to do good.

During 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy, people were extremely grateful for businesses that gave local support. And if there was ever a time for retailers to give back to their communities, that time is now. When consumers make choices about where to place their loyalty or spendings, they will remember who showed support. Selfless gestures now will pay dividends in the future. While promoting events or deals isn’t appropriate, offering assistance and providing relief does contribute to long-term positive brand awareness.

Many retailers, large and small, are providing support that goes beyond offering price discounts on products. While the larger household brands seem to get a great deal of press, there is a significant number of smaller retailers that have stepped up during this time.

Here's how some businesses are going above and beyond:

  • Los Angeles Apparel has created masks and other medical products for government agencies.
  • Thrive Market created a COVID-19 Relief Fund to provide grocery stipends and free Thrive Market memberships to any family facing health or financial hardships. Their member community raised over $80,000 through donations at checkout. Thrive committed to match those donations dollar for dollar, up to a total donation of $200,000. They are currently offering over $180,000 in grocery stipends for those in need.
  • Many, if not all, grocery stores across the nation are providing early entry hours for senior citizens and handicapped people. These groups might otherwise have difficulty shopping during normal hours, and having this time to purchase essential items is a huge relief.
  • Crocs has donated shoes to thousands of health care workers who can go online to request them, and plans to donate 100,000 pairs to health institutions.
  • In partnership with the United Way, DoorDash is delivering groceries and prepared meals to people in need.

These companies are endearing themselves to their existing loyal customers, as well as growing growing a new user base. Through their commitment to the well-being of everyone impacted, as well as those on the frontline, these retailers are making themselves known as dependable and generous.

Large and small businesses coming together to improve the lives of others provides us all with a sense of hope, and a renewed positive outlook. These businesses have taken the time to really think about their audience, not just as customers, but as people. It’s time we all listen, adjust, and perfect our sound. To get started on tuning into your consumers, check out Pandora’s SoundCheck campaign.