Create a new playbook for a new era in retail


Patrick Spear is the President and CEO of GMDC | Retail tomorrow and a contributor of Supermarket news. Spear joined GMDC | Retail Tomorrow in 2014, after nearly two decades of involvement with the association as a supplier member during his tenure with several manufacturers of consumer staples including BIC, Newell Rubbermaid, Mapa Spontex, Identity Group and Mammoth Office Products.

Many regions of the country are finally entering a recovery phase following the deployment of COVID-19 vaccines and the lifting of restrictions. As the world reopens, retailers must continue to evolve alongside a renewed sense of consumer confidence.

However, challenges remain. Some states and communities are not recovering as quickly as others, new variants of the virus are spreading and the supply chain is historically behind schedule, which will continue to impact the way retailers navigate this year. .

With these variables still out of retailers’ control, brands are encouraged to continue to build on certain trends that emerged in 2020 to build consumer confidence and create an experience that shows they understand their local shopper.

Overcome the fragility of the supply chain

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, US port cities typically saw a container ship anchored offshore, according to the Southern California Maritime Stock Exchange. As of February 2021, 40 container ships were anchored off the coast of California in ports such as the Port of Long Beach and Los Angeles, through which about a third of the country’s imports transit. The impacts of the pandemic have triggered this serious delay in the supply chain, affecting both retailers and consumers. In addition, the container ship that blocked the Suez Canal for six days in March has further perpetuated the delays and challenges.

Supply chain issues created ripple effects across the industry, but the difficulties were particularly felt by independent retailers, who struggled to keep essential products in stock due to what they recognize as an uneven playing field that has long existed between small and large businesses.

The supply chain is gradually returning to normal, but a year of adjusting to consumer needs and the scramble to purchase and deliver goods ranging from PPE and cleaning products to home decor and seasonal assortments when ordering at home still has an impact on the retail economy today.

As consumer behaviors continue to change and the economy begins to accelerate again, some chain challenges remain. While panic buying and the “Great fear of toilet paper”As 2020 has passed, retailers still face a large imbalance between supply and demand based on the congested supply chain system. To overcome this, they must readjust their strategies and find unique ways to retain customers as the retail landscape returns to balance.

Reinventing the retail calendar

We are witnessing a return to some pre-pandemic consumption habits as many regain confidence in our “new normal”. However, some habits discovered in 2020 will remain even if the seasons change.

While this varies by region and company, today’s work-from-home culture is likely to stay at a certain level. As consumers invest more in their lives at home, how can retailers fit into categories where they may not have been a destination before?

It used to be “easy” for retailers. There was always a playbook to follow.

Historically, when May rolled around, retailers offered beach chairs, umbrellas, charcoal, pool toys and more. Retailers would sell these seasonal products, rate them, take them out of the store, and move on to the next seasonal event. The calendar of events was drawn up every year like clockwork.

However, now knowing that various parts of the country are still at varying levels of foreclosure and supply chain disruption, what retailers have done historically may no longer work, or be relevant to their customers this year. Certain categories that retailers historically marketed as seasonal may begin to look to extended seasonal or year-round buying opportunities.

It’s time for retailers to reinvent their strategies and assortments.

Retailers should assume that home gatherings will continue to gain momentum. As restaurants reopen as people feel more comfortable, behavioral changes from spending time socializing in a backyard or maximizing the investment made last year in a new barbecue or barbecue. new garden furniture will play a key role in retailers’ strategies. Retailers must find ways to organize themselves to delight customers in a way that allows them to continue to develop habits at home, regardless of the country’s position in its COVID-19 recovery.

Knowing what we know about today’s consumer habits and how to navigate the supply chain, retailers need to go the extra mile this year, think outside the box, rearrange their traditional timeline, and locate deals to create solutions for attract and retain their customers.

Prioritize your local customers

Retailers understand that supply chain improvements are coming, but how a retailer understands their local buyer and responds to COVID-19 orders will indicate how they create a unique experience to lock in their customers. Inventory should be different from store to store.

Until every city returns to ‘normal’ there will be opportunities for retailers, no matter what part of the country they are in, to reflect on what is going on in their own backyards, to adapt their assortment and inspire their customers (for example, offering meal kits for cooking at home or organizing dinners).

Retailers no longer have the luxury of saying, “We can’t get this product, that’s not what we’re selling. Their owners, shareholders and stakeholders will always challenge them to find a solution. Just because retailers may not be able to acquire certain products this year doesn’t mean that there are no opportunities to pivot and find other ways to delight their customers.

To ensure relevance and continue to innovate despite challenges and opportunities, retailers must reinvent the product mix, find ways to reconnect with buyers and deliver solutions to their local communities, and rewrite their playbook for this news. retail era.

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