CSA Exclusive: Casey’s puts the customer first in its COVID-19 response

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CSA Exclusive: Casey’s puts the customer first in its COVID-19 response

By Dan Berthiaume - 10/06/2020
Chris Jones
Chris Jones

Casey’s General Stores is building its “new normal” operational strategy around meeting customer needs.

Chain Store Age recently spoke with Chris Jones, chief marketing officer Casey’s General Stores Inc., about how the Midwestern convenience chain is adapting to the continuing challenges of COVID-19 while maintaining core corporate values. 

“The first goal is the safety of our employees and customers,” said Jones. “Our operations, marketing, merchandising and distribution are all very focused on providing a safe environment. We are moving quickly in finding contactless ways to engage with our customers. My role is to meet customers where they are, attitudinally and literally, during COVID crisis.”

Specific contactless initiatives Casey’s has launched in recent months include offering curbside delivery chainwide and expanding an on-demand delivery partnership with third-party platform DoorDash from a 30-store program in Nebraska to about 600 stores.

“We offer contactless delivery,” Jones noted. “The driver leaves the customer’s items on the porch and notifies them without engaging. Customers can order food and grocery products ahead for curbside pickup and notify the store with an app when they have arrived. An employee comes out with personal protective equipment (PPE) and to reassure customers our products made safely and not touched, we do things like put tamper-evident seals on our pizza boxes.”

In addition to pizzas, which are prepared in kitchens located in-store, Casey’s also offers grocery and household items for online delivery and pickup. The retailer added 100 grocery and CPG items to its assortment of convenience products after the outbreak of the pandemic.

Customers who make traditional visits to Casey’s brick-and-mortar stores (as an essential retailer, its physical locations were never shut down) will see a refreshed store interior and logo. Jones said the chain is also taking steps to meet customer expectations for COVID-19 safety.

“Shoppers in stores will see plexiglass shields at checkout, employees wearing masks, taking appropriate steps to clean and socially distance, and using new ways to interact with them digitally, such as our new app.” 

Looking ahead to what is a generally uncertain future for omnichannel retail, Jones said Casey’s will continue to be agile and responsive to any changes in consumer needs or government regulation.

“In terms of a ‘new normal,’ our sense is these consumer behaviors are here to stay,” commented Jones. “Curbside pickup and delivery have taken a two-to-three-year leap forward in the past six months. We plan to continue expanding delivery with other third-party platforms. Everything we have done; we will be able to persist with further.”