The coronavirus pandemic forced major supermarkets in Australia to rapidly adjust the way they do business in response to an unprecedented climb in demand for particular household products.
For weeks, retailers grappled to keep toilet paper, cleaning products and non-perishable food on shelves as shoppers panic-bought supplies as fear and uncertainty surrounding the virus grew.
Now that stocks have begun to level, ALDI Australia Customer Experience Director Adrian Christie has reflected on the challenging time – and revealed how the supermarket would be forever different as a result.
Speaking with Yahoo News Australia in a live interview, Mr Christie said the supermarket had “learned a lot” from the trying time, which involved having to reduce trading hours and introduce purchase limits.
Perhaps the most significant learning to come out of the COVID-19 outbreak was learning the crucial importance of having strong relationships with suppliers, according to Mr Christie.
“What we’ve learnt is the benefit of strong partnership with our supply chain,” he said.
“We’ve got great partners in Australia, and it means that when we talk to them about getting the toilet paper into the store, or supplying pasta, or cleaning products, we’re actually working deeply in partnership to make sure we can deliver the goods to our customers.”
Seeing the benefit of those close relationships in action had been “delightful”, Mr Christie said, stressing how crucial this was to ensuring customers could access the products they needed.
“So there’s some great learnings throughout this,” he added.
Safety measures including enforced social distancing in stores, shields between checkouts and customers, and new hygiene protocols would be lifted “when it makes sense”, Mr Christie said.
None of the measures introduced during the outbreak were expected to be adapted on a permanent basis once the store received the green light from health authorities, he said.
When will buying limits be lifted?
While ALDI has lifted its purchase limits on alcohol, minced meat and tinned food, other restrictions are expected to remain in place for at least the next few weeks, Mr Christie said.
Customers are still only permitted to purchase one pack of toilet paper at a time, and two units of flour, eggs, hand sanitiser, liquid soap and rice.
“As we work with our supply chain, we make sure that there’s plenty of products for everyone, and those (restrictions) should be lifted in the weeks ahead,” he said.
“We just want to make sure that when you go to the supermarket, you’re guaranteed you’ll be able to fill your basket with everything you want.”
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