Adapting to challenging times
An important update
As you can imagine, it’s a rather busy time for us at Abel & Cole at the moment. We’re pulling out all the stops to adapt as quickly as possible to this new landscape. We want to reassure you of some measures that we are putting in place to protect everyone and to keep things moving in the coming weeks. Hopefully the below will answer any questions you may have.
After much work behind the scenes, we are very happy to now be able to welcome new customers to join Abel & Cole. We are carefully managing this to ensure that we are maintaining an excellent level of service for our existing customers.
We have re-trained our entire marketing team, as well as many other colleagues from around our business, to support the Customer Service team.
Our Fruit & Veg
In order to simplify things behind the scenes we have made some big changes to how we pick and pack our Fruit & Veg boxes. This means from 23rd March we are temporarily offering fixed content boxes only, so you are not able to edit them, and the contents are subject to change. We have also had to significantly reduce our “pick your own” Fruit & Veg offering. We’re working really hard to introduce more and more options so please do keep checking the “Top Ups” page within our Fruit & Veg section on the website.
We are seeing many more customers buying a much wider selection of things from us. They are not buying abnormal quantities, but they are ordering things from us that they would normally order elsewhere. The new, sustained increase in volume means we are working around the clock to get everything packed into boxes and delivered to you. However, we need to make sure our packing teams are maintaining safe social distancing which means we have less people actively packing at any time. This has meant we’ve had to simplify our product range and limit the number of items we can pack each day. We’ve gradually been increasing our capacity since the lockdown began and we’re working hard behind the scenes to increase it further.
To check what you have coming in your next order click on the Van icon in the top navigation bar on our website. This will show you what you have coming for your next order, plus any future orders. To check what you have on a repeat subscription you’ll see a frequency next to the Van icon by each product in your order. If you have it set to “every week” or any type of weekly frequency, you have it on a set subscription. If it says “One delivery” it is not on a subscription and you will only get it one time. We are not able to take anymore subscription orders at this time.
Don’t worry that you can’t see your weekly/fortnightly/monthly subscriptions in future orders- once your next order cut off passes, the products will show in the next relevant week.
Our drivers & deliveries
We’re having daily briefings with our drivers and continue to uphold the strictest health and safety guidelines, such as regular hand washing and carrying hand sanitiser to sanitise hands between deliveries. We have moved some of our deliveries back to later in the morning so that fewer deliveries are outside left unattended for long periods of time. Unfortunately, we have seen the number of stolen deliveries increase. It’s really important that your delivery instructions are up to date as we will continue to use your usual safe place until told otherwise.
All of our drivers are told to knock on the door if it’s a reasonable hour, to let you know that they have been, but they will not be staying to chat. We know this may seem a tad aloof but we’re sure you understand we just want to ensure everyone stays at least 2m away from each other.
Perhaps one of the things that drew you to us in the first place was the fact we deliver to you in returnable boxes. There is at the very least 48 hours between someone returning a box and it being used again. It’s usually more likely 3-5 days though. However, we’re aware you might also be concerned about when the boxes are delivered to you, not just returning them to us. There is some new evidence which suggests that if you’re touching items that someone else has recently handled, to be aware that they could be contaminated, so please make sure you wash your hands as soon as you have unpacked your order. It’s for this same reason that our drivers also have gloves to wear and carry hand sanitiser to ensure the absolute best hand hygiene between handling returned boxes and touching new boxes.
The following should help with some of the other bits of packaging that are necessary to send. The plastic chill liner is not reused if returned but rather recycled, so you could consider recycling straight away at home. Finally, our ice packs, on their return to us are washed prior to re-freeze. Then it takes at least 48h to freeze down, so there is always a minimum of four days before these are reused from when you send them back to us.
We are casting our net wider to get you the best organic fruit and veg available. In the current climate that means that we may need to compromise in some other areas such as packaging and some products may come wrapped in plastic or come bagged that usually would come loose. We feel that it’s currently more important for us to have enough organic produce to send to our customers so we ask you to please find ways of reusing packaging you wouldn’t ordinarily expect or to dispose of it responsibly. We hope this will be a short term solution but wanted to give you a heads up.
We love going to see our farmers, producers and potential partners regularly. But to keep everyone safe, we have stopped all of those visits for now and are speaking over the phone or video conferencing. We’re speaking daily, though, to ensure we have a clear picture of any product delays and are doing are best to support all suppliers to continue trading where some of our suppliers have been impacted by restaurants closing. As we have said, our current limits are being driven by our packing and delivery capabilities, not by product limits – this may, of course, change and we will keep you updated if this does happen.
We believe information is power so we’re keeping our team regularly updated and briefed on the latest news as well as the latest adaptations we are making. Like you, we’d love for this Coronavirus to disappear very quickly, but at this stage we are of course all unsure as to how long we’ll all be impacted by it.
So, we will continue to keep these measures in places for as long as necessary until we are sure the coast is clear. If you have any questions at all, please let us know.
We hope that we’ve given you some peace of mind that we are doing all we can to be prepared and keep everyone safe. Thank you for bearing with us whilst we adapt and change, to keep things moving.
Hannah Shipton, Managing Director