Retailing in a new world: Ampol shares learnings from 2020

In the December / January issue of C&I Retailing Magazine, we spoke with a number of petrol and convenience retailers to find out how they overcame the challenges of 2020 and hear their outlook for 2021.

For the first in our series of interviews, we chat with Skye Jackson, Head of Merchandise Planning at Ampol.

C&I: What were the main challenges and highlights for Ampol in 2020?

Skye: Dealing with the changing demands due to COVID-19 has been one of the biggest challenges for our retail business, such as managing the changing requirements that are all different geographically, often with very short timelines to implement. At the same time, adapting to the changing customers demands has been a huge challenge.

Our buying teams have done a great job of understanding these changing customer demands quickly and adapting the range of their forecasts to suit, such as sourcing additional toilet paper during that crazy panic buying period earlier this year. Our supply chain teams supported this success by dealing with a significant uplift in volume and getting the stock to our stores.

C&I: Have you noticed any new trends emerging over the past 12 months?

Skye: Consumer habits have definitely changed with people spending more time at home, some on-the-go products have struggled as larger share pack sizes for home consumption have increased. Home delivery has been a real success story as people leant on these convenient services, particularly at the height of lockdowns. We’ve focused on ensuring our range meets the current demands of our customers, including expanding what we offer to our home delivery customers.

C&I: Have you noticed a shift in consumer behaviour? Do you predict it will continue into 2021?

Skye: Consumer behaviour has definitely changed through 2020 – we’re seeing uplift on non-traditional convenience categories, such as groceries, as consumers look to avoid crowds in supermarkets. Cleanliness is a big factor and our store teams are even more focused on ensuring our facilities are maintained to a high standard. I think what 2020 has taught us is to expect the unexpected. We have seen how quickly COVID-19 can significantly change our lives overnight. The key to success is remaining agile and being able to pivot your business to the changing external environment. We’ve done a great job of this operationally and commercially through 2020 so I’m confident we’re ready for whatever 2021 throws at us.

For the full article on retailing in a new world, see the December / January issue of C&I Retailing Magazine, which is available now online.

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