As communities around Australia stayed indoors because of the coronavirus pandemic, many Stockland retailers quickly pivoted to find new ways to reach and support their customers and make the shopping experience more convenient and curated. Here are the stories of how five Stockland retailers who are passionate about their business and the people they serve found a way to put their customers front and centre. We were impressed by their adaptability, creativeness and the speed with which they implemented these initiatives.
Recognising that some of their regular customers weren’t able or didn’t feel comfortable leaving their homes, Just Cuts teamed up with Stockland Townsville to take the Just Cuts experience to them at a local Aitkenvale retirement village.
Owner Peggy Millios and the Just Cuts team delivered 90 complimentary hair care packages, including shampoo, conditioner, styling products and hair accessories, to their customers to help them feel special and cared for during self-isolation.
“At Just Cuts we know how a simple haircut and chat can really lift a person’s spirit, so we organised this special surprise to show some of our clients that we’re thinking about them” said Ms Millios.
Andrew Stallan, Centre Manager at Stockland Townsville, said “We’re always looking for ways to support our local community and retailers and thought what better way to do both. The effort and enthusiasm shown by Peggy and the team at Just Cuts is really inspiring. They were determined to show some of their loyal customers that they care, and genuinely wanted to brighten their day.”
Specsavers at Stockland Cairns personally delivered customer orders to their doors when their customers couldn’t come to them.
Suzanne Smith, dispensing director and co-owner of Specsavers Cairns, said “When the 1.5 metre social distancing restrictions came into effect, we weren’t able to do frame adjustments as we normally would for our customers, so there wasn’t a real requirement to come into the shop.
“We knew that many of our customers were seniors who were unable or reluctant to come into our store to collect their glasses, and so thought this was a great way to show that we supported their choice to stay home. We didn’t want them to go without their glasses for longer than needed.”
When Specsavers received the glasses from their lab, they packaged them up with the warranty paperwork, an information sheet for first-time glasses wearers, and a free bottle of lens cleaner. All glasses were set up to a standard alignment prior to delivery.
Ms Smith said: “I started asking our customers if they needed anything else brought from the shops since I was here anyway. There were a few who did take me up on that offer.”
Stockland Birtinya joined forces with Bakers Delight to delivery around 300 complimentary hot cross buns to the residents of Stockland’s Shine Birtinya Retirement Village in time for Easter.
Owner of the family-run Baker’s Delight, Rebecca Burl, said that she was inspired to organise the delivery knowing that many seniors would be missing family and friends.
“We wanted to bring some Easter spirit to older Australians who weren’t able to see their families. As a business, we are always trying to give back to our local community wherever possible, especially during these challenging times.”
Chemistworks and Stockland Wetherill Park joined forces to offer a more convenient way for customers to collect their prescriptions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new service allowed customers to pre-arrange a time with Chemistworks to drop-off and pick-up their prepaid scripts. Customers then parked in the allocated spaces outside the store while they waited for their orders.
Catherine Bronger, an owner of Chemistworks, said the service helped to minimise queues in the store while following social distancing regulations.
The service allowed customers to collect their medications without having to physically enter the store, which was particularly helpful for those who were more vulnerable to illness, feeling unwell or mothers with children.
Ben Simpson-Morgan, Retail Manager at Stockland Wetherill Park, said that they’ve listened to what customers want and were pleased to assist in organising this service which adds ease and comfort to the shopping experience.
“We’re pleased to be able to help keep our retailers, customers and community as safe as possible through simple changes to support physical distancing.”
For many restaurants, COVID-19 meant a quick transition from dine-in to online and delivery services.
Dante Reynaud, restaurant manager of Guzman y Gomez at Stockland Gladstone, said that the social distancing restrictions inspired him to come up with new ways of supporting customers and staff.
“At Guzman y Gomez, we always support our customers and so we launched our ‘Got Your Back’ menu through our app and in store. It started as a great special on our fresh burritos and has since evolved to include our hard shell ground beef taco.
“Our hope with the app was to reach all of our regular customers – and entice new ones – to try our food from the safety of their own homes.”
This move to delivery allowed the restaurant to retain its staff and to take back members from Brisbane returning from studies.
“We can thankfully say that we’ve found success during these times. We have managed to keep all of our employees working, and are serving new guests every day that have never tried our food before.
“A big thank you to the Stockland Gladstone Centre Management team who have helped us during this time, organising the delivery parking spots in front of the Veranda and promoting our deals more widely in-centre and through social media. We couldn’t have done it without you.”
Christopher Allen, owner of Schnitz at Stockland Gladstone, shared a similar success story.
“We actually found it pretty simple to make the transition to takeaway. I worked in the pizza industry for 15 years where delivery was a key element to business, and so have applied that knowledge and experience to make it work for us here at Schnitz.
“Our same great menu and favourites are available to order through our website, with delivery straight to your door. It’s something I’ve always wanted to offer our customers as an option, so this was the push we needed to finally make that work for our store.”
Mr Allen continued: “We really appreciate the support we continue to receive from the community and beyond, and look forward to welcoming everyone back to our restaurant when we can.”
Diana Mitchell, Centre Manager at Stockland Gladstone, said that helping retailers adapt to the changing needs of customers has been her priority.
“We want to see all of our retailers succeed and so we’ve been trying to lend support wherever we can, whether that be helping restaurant owners to set up delivery services and promoting those on our centre’s website, advertising on social media or creating designated parking spots at the centre for pick up.
“We’re here for our retailers in the same way that we value and support our customers. It’s been encouraging to see some of these local businesses evolve, and the spirit they’ve maintained while doing so is inspiring.”