How Retailers can Overcome the Challenges of a Pandemic
It might sound too good to be true and seem next to impossible but it is not. Your retail business might have you worried sick during this pandemic but despite the challenges, can weather the storm successfully. Challenges abound and one reason imports are hit hard is that the manufacturers are also struggling with their production challenges.
There has been a sudden change in consumer behaviour as well because some have started hoarding, putting pressure on retailers because their inventory forecasts have started to go haywire.
The world has not faced such a crisis of this nature in the recent past and therefore most governments and businesses were not prepared for contingencies to deal with this kind of threat. We were living in our comfort zone never imagining that we would live to see a pandemic of this magnitude.
With supply chain systems having been severely damaged, the challenge for retailers is to avoid and overcome bottlenecks created by this.
With social distancing no more an option but a necessity, shoppers are turning to the only viable option, which is ecommerce. This gives a great opportunity for retailers to recover, at least partially, from the challenges due to their brick and mortar store ‘only’ type of business. Of course, retailers will have to be quick to spread the word about their online presence while simultaneously ensuring sufficient stocks to handle in case of a sudden surge in online demand.
Operational challenges are immense among retailers starting from labour shortages to disruptions in supply and demand. Meanwhile, ecommerce is experiencing a surge which retailers need only to cash in upon.
Concentrating upon the health and safety of employees is of critical for retailers in places where they are allowed to operate their physical stores. Creating awareness amongst employees about the use of hand sanitizers, washing of hands frequently and in case of deliveries insistence upon the use of not just face masks but also disposable gloves is important.
Sanitising of trolleys and door handles at regular intervals will ensure that the virus does not spread and will uphold your reputation in the long run. Retailers also need to cooperate with other retailers and coordinate to take a collective action which will make communities remember them in years to come, especially, assisting the elderly in these times of crisis.
The following data will exhibit just how much the scope of ecommerce has increased worldwide. It is time for you to look into the ecommerce space to increase your channels of sales.
The data is encouraging and therefore it is time now to start asking yourself a few pertinent questions:
- What do my clients NEED right now?
- How can I meet those needs?
- Does my business have the capacity to reallocate my team’s productivity toward a sustainable offering?
- What is the biggest priority for my clients? How can I contribute to that priority?
- What technologies can I deploy to meet the needs of my offerings?
- What legal ramifications will I face if I continue business as usual? (We would suggest you seek localised legal consultation to help you answer this.)
- Who do I know that can help me navigate this new way of doing business?
- What are effective ways for me to capture market share while working remotely or with a skeleton crew?
- Should I be focused on business development right now?
- What should my business be marketing right now? Should I spend time and money on marketing right now?
Some unique tips from experts:
- This is a unique experience for retailers across the globe. Recessions have come and gone but in the past one hundred years, nothing like this has happened to impact physically-manned businesses on such a scale. Thus the need to have a strong online presence cannot be emphasised enough as a preparation for the future. This means developing a system for enterprise risk management and planning for business contingencies which will benefit retailers for a long time to come. There must also be a plan to re-engage customers once the lockdown is over. This is for businesses to have a quick recovery.
- Stay engaged with customers over digital channels either by social media marketing, by bulk SMS or email marketing. Out of sight is out of mind, so give a gentle reminder about how much you value them and remind them of their loyalty to the brand. A good way to keep things alive is to offer gift cards for purchase that can be redeemed in-store anytime in the next year. This would ensure increased traction and business.
- If you are already into Omnichannel sales then make an effort to improve customer experience on your website.
- Keep up the momentum on social media and foster customer loyalty further. Engage with them by providing regular updates about your current situation during the pandemic and reassuring them of continuity in business.
- Offer free shipping wherever possible and discount codes to re-engage customers and ensure loyalty.
Crises are an inevitable part of our lives but more important is how we deal with them. Engage with vendors and keep in touch with your suppliers. The secret is to never lose touch with those that matter to your retail business. Prioritise the needs of your customers, your employees and partners and have a contingency plan at hand to weather the present crisis. The possibility of a cut in spending will always loom in the horizon and retailers have to be prepared. It’s a long haul indeed and you need to be ready for that day and asses your risk profile and determine what strategy you will adopt because being under lockdown is one part of the picture, the other part is to look beyond. Today’s proactive actions will help you to see a better tomorrow.
We at Eunimart are here to provide you with solutions that will help you to develop your resilience and devise new strategies to tide over the current challenges of the pandemic through our platform specifically designed with solutions to aid retailers during this crisis.