Goodwill for efforts during pandemic continues, ‘allowing a positive 2021’
by Eric Pereira / content creator
Karns Foods has two key focus points for the future – community ties and technology.
“First, better communicating our local partnerships,” said Andrea Karns, the company’s VP of sales and marketing. “Since 1959, we have worked with local purveyors offering their products to our shoppers. While this commitment has always been in place, we are now focused on highlighting those products and relationships,” she said.
Karns Foods also is undergoing an entire facelift of its technology.
“We are investing in advanced technology throughout the store that will catapult us well past present standards and into the future,” she said. “These additions will benefit all shareholders – vendor partners, team members and consumers.”
Karns Foods has nine retail locations and one commissary production in Pennsylvania. The company offers delivery through third-party partners and “Karns Basic Essentials” curbside shopping.
“Both of these options have allowed us to reach shoppers who are looking to either not leave their house or their car,” she said. “By having these items in place, we have been able to maintain relationships with shoppers as their habits and comforts have shifted.”
By using social media, the company has been able to engage shoppers with the lighter side of grocery.
“Karns Foods primarily utilizes social media to highlight seasonal products, new/local items, community events and recipe suggestions,” Karns said. “It has allowed us to build an additional dimension to our consumer relationship.”
For grocers who are looking to expand sales or communication outside of the brick and mortar store, the biggest question she encourages them to address: “What is your goal? With either online shopping or social media, knowing the end goal, the end purpose, provides a pathway to success. It also helps avoid distractions along the way.”
Karns has trouble remembering life in food retail before the COVID-19 pandemic, but two key things she has seen change are communication and sanitation practices.
“Karns Foods put into action a frontline communication app for our team members to increase direct communication,” she said. “This has been utilized for the key points (safety guidelines) and points of interest (new products).
“This next level of team member communication has allowed increased touchpoints with those who are in direct contact with our customers. The app ensure messages are received directly from the company in a timely fashion.”
She said COVID has highlighted the need for a sanitary store tenfold.
“Many of the additional sanitation steps will be in place moving into the future as part of everyday retail operations – creating a cleaner, more sanitized store for all who enter,” she said.
Overall, 2021 has continued to be a strong year of sales for Karns Foods.
“During the 2020 peak COVID time, we strengthened existing producer and consumer relationships while also building new ones,” she said. “The goodwill for our efforts during that time has continued for us, allowing a positive 2021.”
Karns said the company has experienced little disruption on fresh products, but other departments face challenges.
“Like many other retailers, we have and still are encountering out-of-stock issues on center-of -the-store items,” Karns said. “While we’ve seen some categories rebound, in regard to supply for other departments, or flavor offerings, [they] have remained tight on availability. As a result, we have and will continue to evaluate the necessary SKUs carried.”