Perspectives

From The Co-Founders

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Strategic insights and commentary from The ROI Co-Founders, Pat Johnson and Dick Outcalt
Outcalt & Johnson: Retail Strategists LLC; Retail Turnaround Experts


ROI Co-Founders
ROI Co-Founders's Article
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We believe there are not one, but three(!) pandemics occurring simultaneously right now. Of course, the COVID-19 virus elevated the word "pandemic" to a status that identifies even a generation of babies. 

But the other two pandemics are equally paralyzing: the nationwide (even worldwide) protests of racial injustice, and the severe unemployment from the economic collapse. 

Indeed, three concurrent, worldwide sinkholes. We call it the "pandemic trifecta of 2020."


So, what's an intelligent retailer to think now?!

Here's one idea that we believe can help you have more confidence in your immediate decisions. Think beyond this week and this month. 

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As more stores are able to reopen, and more shoppers are willing to emerge, what will they encounter?

  • "A glut of pent-up inventory is waiting to be dumped on consumers this summer as retail stores reopen in the U.S., and shoppers for everything from shoes to sofas should be able to find major bargains," reported the Wall Street Journal* on June 2.

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YOU are the leader we need now!

Most of the people who receive our weekly newsletter from The Retail Owners Institute® are either owners of stores (duh...) or work with retail owners, not only in America but around the world.

When you think about it, owners and senior management of retail businesses are looked upon as leaders everyday, by employees, by suppliers, by customers, by their families and often by the media. You are community builders. 

Amidst this pandemic, your leadership is more vital than ever.

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Like every natural disaster, whether a massive storm, earthquake, wildfire, we all are victims of COVID-19. 

Not all of us have suffered being infected by the virus. But, essentially everybody has suffered losses. 

  • The loss of milestone celebrations of weddings, graduations, reunions, birthdays; anniversaries;
  • Lost access to theaters, museums, libraries, sporting events;
  • Loss of the sense of community that comes from going to work, or worship services, book clubs, or the local coffee shop; 
  • Loss of income, job losses;
  •  Or, sadly, the loss of loved ones. 

Few have been spared. 

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A few years ago, during a planning session in our office, we drew a quick diagram on a whiteboard. It showed three shapes. 

  • The large rectangle at the top was labeled "What we COULD do" Lots of good ideas deserved a place in this box!
  • The much smaller rectangle below it was labeled "What  we SHOULD do" Ahh yes, those pesky obligations. 
  • And finally, at the bottom, was a tiny little square: "What we WILL do!" 

Out of all of the potential things we could do, which ones truly warrant our time, energy, and resources?

That picture keeps coming to mind as the COVID-19 shutdown orders on retailers of "non-essential" goods are starting to be lifted. 

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Independent retailers are renowned for being "technology laggards." Those days have to end!

As you wait and worry about re-opening your stores, the state of the economy, the health and safety of your family and friends and employees, here is an idea of what you might do with some of your found time. 

When you do re-open, be sure that you are actually in the 21st Century! Put your energy, your resilience, and your flexibility to use, focusing on improving your IT.

The goal: When you re-open, be even better than your competition! And more relevant to your shoppers.

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There’s an awareness, an “Oh wow!” sweeping around the commercial world. It’s stated in a variety of ways, but it’s the same surprise. 

  • “Working off-site seems to appeal a lot to both employees and employers. Could be another sea change!!!!”

Indeed, some respected urban thinkers are suggesting that 50% of the traditional commuters may want to and will be encouraged to continue to work remotely.  50%?! Yikes. That’s quite a redirection of the parade!

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The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly gained the respect of the general public. 

Surveys continue to show that, while folks are eager to be able to resume moving about, they do not expect to resume their pre-pandemic discretionary shopping and dining activities anytime soon. They are awaiting effective treatments or, even better, a vaccine. 

Main Street restauranteurs and retailers understand that, according to survey results reported April 27.* In fact, these owners anticipate it could  take another eight months – that is, most of the year – for consumer demand to reach the so-called "New Normal."