Most successful retail businesses are built on solid routines – how you run a store, plan your merchandise and service customers are all fundamental routines. When even one of these is misaligned, chaos ensues. But these times are tricky – COVID-19 has sent much of the retail industry into a tailspin and all of these fundamental routines are anything but routine. If you are a grocer or a retailer of “essential goods”, you feel like you are working at a holiday pace with none of the planning which should be good for sales, if your supply chains hold up. On the other hand, most of the rest of retail is in an even worse spot. Mass layoffs and furloughs have already started, many cities and states have already extended the shelter-in-place guidelines, and experts predict that the economy will get (much) worse before it gets better.
Having worked most of my career in retail either as an operator or, more recently, as a longstanding member of the RetailNext team, I can honestly say this is something I never imagined. That being said, I firmly believe you always have to look for the silver lining in any tragedy or unexpected event. In this case, the silver lining may be that retailers finally will have to figure out what their role in the retail evolution will be – and how they will measure and execute against their new reality.
There is an opportunity, during this time, to dig deep and figure out what the big reset is. Will retailers win on relationships with shoppers and in-store experience, on their ability to finally figure out the last mile delivery, or on something else?
Whatever the strategy, I know most closed stores will reopen in due time and all will need to execute like never before. But “how” is the big question. How do retailers rehire, retrain, reforecast, rebuy and rebuild from a standing stop? What are the shopper expectations for hygiene standards and occupancy in-store? How do you deliver service from six feet away? Nobody has all of the answers, however given our access to hundreds of retailers in tens of thousands of locations across the world, we have started to compile what we believe will need to be considered. Starting with this checklist, we are launching a COVID-19 – Retail Recovery series of tools, best practices and data advice to help with this navigation.
Over the coming weeks we will produce recorded webinars with access to data strategies and retail performance, CEO surveys (we have one completed which can be found here), and other important materials that can be leveraged as retail organizations work to find the new normal.
RetailNext is supporting retailers in reopening stores through occupancy capabilities. Learn more here!