Local retailer fights COVID with e-commerce.
10th November 2020
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Coates Butchers has been a feature of Main Street in Alrewas for well over 100 years. Through the generations they have focussed on supplying top quality fresh meats and have built up an extensive, loyal customer base. While they pride themselves in the quality of their farm-fresh meat, they are perhaps most famous of all for their wide range of home-produced sausages and bacon products.

Coates Butchers operate out of four small shops in Alrewas, Borrowash, Tamworth and Wollaton, with Alrewas providing the main hub for their supplies.

We at Spectrum Web Products first started working with Coates (as they are generally known) in 2014, since when we’ve continuously developed their brochure website, alongside what is now an extensive e-commerce site. We’ve been working even more closely with them since March this year, as the evolution of the COVID pandemic has presented a series of major challenges.

Going into lockdown, Coates were at least able to continue trading as an essential retailer. Apart from the overriding concerns around the health and wellbeing of their staff and customers, there were two major issues confronting them: firstly, the tidal wave of panic buying was causing long queues outside all their stores and placing their staff under huge pressure; and secondly, there was a risk to essential food supplies given the combination of increased demand and disrupted supply chains.

E-Commerce proved to be a major factor in confronting these problems; we’d built Coates’ first online store in 2016, offering a fairly limited range of products to complement sales out of their four shops. As the country moved into lockdown, we quickly adapted and upgraded this existing e-commerce capability to provide an alternative to in-store shopping.

The keys to the model were a targeted product range and free delivery; essential products were made available for online sale, with order limitations for some of the most sought-after products; because of their extensive supplier network, Coates were also able to source certain “hard to find” goods for sale, such as flour and eggs. Customers living within within a couple of miles of a Coates Butchers could order these essentials for free home delivery.

The public response was instant and enthusiastic. Orders came streaming in, and over the following weeks Coates remained able to supply essential foodstuffs to local communities, including those who were shielding. In Alrewas they re-introduced the traditional butchers bike, so deliveries were also climate friendly!

Over the following weeks and months as it became clear the pandemic would be around for many months, we continued to work closely with Coates, steadily expanding the online service offering and the free delivery zones.

Meat product ranges were extended and various accompaniments and deli products were added to the online store. Through the summer a range of champagnes, wines and spirits was added, and we also revamped the online store to better accommodate the larger customer volumes and wider range of products.

As Coates had vans going regularly between all of their shops to deliver stock, they decided to take advantage of this by extending free delivery to the many towns and villages along their routes – including Lichfield.

In addition, a Click and Collect service was added so customers could pre-order and therefore spend less time in-store.

Going into the Christmas season, Coates customers can for the first time pre-order and pay for their Christmas Poultry online, and shop-front queues in the peak days before Christmas will be minimised by the addition of a Click and Collect service.

Hopefully in the coming months we’ll emerge from the other side of the pandemic, and when we do, Coates online store will have played a crucial role in helping the business to confront the COVID challenges. Looking to the future, it will continue to be a key driver for business growth.

 Here’s a summary of how e-commerce helped Coates Butchers during one of the most difficult trading periods in their history:

  • Securing revenues by complementing in-store sales with ever-increasing online sales.
  • Reducing queueing outside their stores by providing an online alternative
  • Enabling them to look after the welfare of their staff by reducing the amount of time spent serving customers
  • Helping them to support community efforts to supply people shielding during lockdown
  • Opening up new customer territories by providing free delivery in a wide area near to and between their four shops
  • Greatly enhancing their brand reputation as the new delivery services proved to be extremely reliable and easy to use

We at Spectrum Web Products are proud of our involvement in this story, helping a local business to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic, serve their local community and increase their online revenues.

What the Client says about us:
“We've used Spectrum Web Products for the last few years and always find them professional and approachable. They take time to understand our business requirements and come up with options and ideas to achieve what we are looking for. They are also proactive in looking after our website and e-commerce store and suggesting improvements. 2020 has been a very difficult year for many businesses, and Spectrum's help was invaluable in helping us to adapt quickly to the challenges we faced. They enabled us to use our website as an essential communications tool in a constantly-changing situation, and to accelerate our move to online sales."
Antony Coates

We can do the same for you:

If you’re an independent retailer concerned at the prospect of the pre-Christmas lockdown, and if you think now is the time to open up online, we want to hear from you. E-commerce doesn’t have to replace traditional shop-based retail, instead it can be a valuable addition and can help secure your business into the future.  Why not get in touch? www.spectrumwebproducts.net

About the Author

Kevin W

Member since: 1st October 2020

Lichfield born and bred, attended Chadsmead Infants & Juniors and Friary Grange.

Set up Spectrum Web Products in 2008 providing web, e-commerce & IT solutions to small businesses, charities and local...

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