Moving Goods

How METRO Is Responding to Covid-Era Purchasing Behaviour Worldwide

The absolute top seller during the Covid-19 pandemic is and remains – toilet paper. For all the light-hearted anecdotes about it, however, the demand for toilet paper and other non- and near-food products is a serious challenge for all modern traders and suppliers. Across countries, METRO has found a way to respond to customers' new purchasing behaviour.

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It was already clear during the initial hoarding phase in the spring of 2020 that the demand for near-food articles – i.e. the drugstore range in the broadest sense as well as household and personal care articles – has increased enormously as a result of the pandemic. HoReCa customers in particular faced major challenges due to the strict cleaning and hygiene regulations around the world, as their demand for cleaning and hygiene products was (and is expected to remain) particularly high.

Due to the mixture of ongoing concern about what to do next and the simultaneous desire to return to some form of normality, the issue of ‘hygiene and cleaning’ has proven to be a make-or-break issue and a trust builder for the relationship between restaurateurs and their guests. For HoReCa, this resulted in enormous pressure regarding the implementation of hygiene regulations, but also in additional financial pressure.
After all, 2020 meant fewer guests, a lack of liquidity, planning uncertainty – but also higher costs due to the purchase of cleaning and hygiene products and the correct implementation of the measures.
 
For most restaurateurs, however, the clear choice was just carry on.
As a result, wholesalers were confronted with increased demand for professional cleaning and hygiene articles as well as products for dishwashing and laundry.

 

Reactions from the countries to the change in purchasing behaviour

Worldwide, product availability became an existential customer need that was placed at the centre of all procurement and supply chain processes within the local and central METRO units – and this remains the case. The different METRO countries took different approaches to meet in-store customers where they were and offer the appropriate products.

In France, for example, METRO took a 360-degree approach to the issue of Covid-19 protection. It aimed to provide customers with concrete hygiene solutions in the form of products, tools and services while protecting colleagues in the stores. This included an extensive range expansion, interior redesign, Covid-updated cleaning and hygiene cards as well as special Covid catalogues and an e-learning education platform for employees and customers. In this way, METRO was able to provide important know-how on the use of its professional products in relevant application areas. This helped to protect employees and customers, while also promoting and giving visibility to all relevant product categories in a targeted manner.
 
In Spain, HoReCa customers were greeted with a ‘Welcome Back Programme’ with deeper discounts on relevant products and items that have become particularly important for the industry. In Italy, the focus was on adapting the product range to changing customer needs, making relevant products more readily available to customers, maintaining price stability and education. In addition, training was provided for sales staff to educate customers and store associates on how to use hygiene products in a professional environment with maximum effectiveness.
Hygiene

Traders – a trusted purchasing source

In addition to HoReCa, there was another target group that wanted to be supported with appropriate solutions: Traders. The owner-operated stores have grown in popularity and importance among end consumers in recent months. They were seen as a safe and easily accessible shopping source – after all, large crowds and long lines could be avoided here.

As a result, the demand for the necessary cleaning, washing and hygiene products as well as personal care products from the Traders themselves increased – because they act as multipliers who resell purchased goods to end consumers.
For METRO, this meant supplying the Traders with an appropriate range and helping to meet the demand. They now required the relevant products not only more frequently, but also in larger quantities. This led to a solid increase in average spend per customer and ultimately to a positive development compared to other retailer-relevant categories.
Compared to the pre-Covid era, this development also included a general increase in Traders and professional SCO customers for METRO.

Working together for the customer

With its Global Business & Supplier Management, METRO was able to expand its range of hygiene articles, especially disinfectants, across locations and countries and make them available to customers. An important step, particularly in times when some places around the world are in total lockdown – helping to create a perspective, especially for the reopening of the HoReCa sector.

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