As we know all too well, 2020 was chock full of "disruptions." Every week brought a new flexibility test. And those of course did not go away when the calendar turned.
For instance, here we are on President's Day Weekend and Valentine's Day Weekend. Raise your hand if you were able to plan and carry out your "traditional" promotional events, let alone do something for your Valentine.
That's what we thought. The usual patterns just don't apply anymore.
Seasonal order cycles have shortened. Seasonal shopping patterns have extended (remember how Holiday shopping began in October?)
Meanwhile, customers have grown accustomed to new conveniences like curb-side pickup. Shopping by appointment. Facetime browsing sessions in your store. As well as buying closer to need. And scouring the internet for exactly what they want, when they want it. (And then expecting you to have it in-store when they can't find it online.... Hmm. Some things haven't changed!)
Alas, this transition phase shows no sign of abating. There seem to be new and different demands every week.
In other words, what we call the new "rhythms of retail" are emerging. We all need to be ready.
Recognizing that, now is the time to begin to define your desired tempo.
These can be fun, and we believe, worthwhile questions to consider. What is the internal pace of your business? What will be the beat of your "rhythm of retail?"
Caution: Your rhythm will be dictated by your customers.
As we noted last week, retailing is being affected by different patterns of seasonality. The old timing patterns for ordering, seasons, and events no longer apply. New "Rhythms of Retail" must be established by all retailers.
So it was with great interest that we read a blog post about Pop-Up Retail: Not Just for Start-Ups.* It featured results from a recent study out of the UK suggesting that "the pop-up retail sector is growing at 12.3% per year. And the U.S. pop-up industry has grown to approximately $10 billion in sales."
We are entering an exceptionally exciting time for retailing.
Nationwide, the U.S. is experiencing an entrepreneurial surge not seen since the tech boom of the 1990s, said Kenan Fikri, research director for the Economic Innovation Group in Washington, D.C.
According to an analysis of Census data by EIG, "Through September, Americans have filed a record 1.4 million applications to start new businesses – the most through the third quarter of any year on record."*
Experts suggest it’s being fueled by rising household wealth and shifting life priorities, after millions of Americans were tossed from their jobs during the pandemic.
As we introduced previously, the New Normal for retailers is already here. It is a new "retail clock."
Of course, it is not just retailers who have been affected; the shoppers also have been adapting. But whereas retailers think in terms of seasons (weeks and months), the shoppers are adjusting their patterns at the daily and weekly level.
What is the definition of "value" for customers? Pretty straightforward, actually.
Wait. What? "Benefits received?" "Burdens endured?"
Turns out, the only single answer to "What is value?" is, "It depends."
Don't just roll your eyes. What constitutes value for your customers increasingly is a make-or-break part of retailing.
"Of course I want it today. If I wanted it tomorrow, I would have come in tomorrow."
That's what we call "retail time." Retailers are comfortable with that pace; they enjoy the variety; they welcome the need to change and adjust.
But, instead of just keeping life interesting, 2020 seems to have gone overboard in bringing changes and disruption to us all. The triple pandemic of the virus, the economy, and the civil unrest. And oh yes, it's also an election year. Enough already, right?
We think the most challenging part of this is the effect on our sense of time.
Yes, the shoppers WILL be returning. But boy, have they learned a lot during these pandemic times.
They are far more comfortable with online shopping, and in many cases, eager to continue that. And the convenience of "contactless" features like curbside pickup and BOPIS (Buy Online, Pickup In Store) are welcomed.
In fact, an extensive survey from McKinsey & Company* provides considerable detail about the newly-learned online shopping behaviors of customers, and their expectations of continuing to use these new-found skills.
Particular changes with presumed staying power:
But hold it. Wait just a minute. Our countervailing view is that the "homebody economy" will wear thin. And while customers do care even more about basics and value, especially when it comes to Holiday shopping, they will want "special."
Still less than $1 a day! 👀