Independent Retailers and the COVID-19 Crisis

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Since March 2, 2020, The ROI's Co-Founders have been offering insights, strategic approaches, and online resources for independent retailers affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

These appeared first in The ROI NEWS.

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Get Your Tents and Sidewalks Ready!

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.

Not only are stores chocked full of merchandise that needs to be liquidated, but so it is with their wholesalers and vendors. Meanwhile, of course, the prevalence of store-closing sales only compounds the volume of discounted merchandise that will be available as shoppers begin to return to stores. It only adds to the glut.

  • Speaking of "return": with the increase in online purchases during the shelter in place restrictions, there is even more merchandise waiting to be returned to brick-n-mortar stores. Where will that go next? It adds to the tsunami.

And now, CNBC reports that Amazon is planning to host a "Fashion Summer Sale Event" starting June 22, "expected to run anywhere from seven to 10 days long."**

Amazon stated that this event "will include seasonally-relevant deals from both established and smaller fashion brands." Participating merchants –"by invitation only" – must offer items "with a discount of at least 30%."


What an environment for retailers!

Whether you sell apparel, or hard goods, or tires, or whatever, this summer will be a fire sale like never before.

In this environment, markdowns aren't enough. In addition to your markdowns,your "theatre of retail" skills are needed. Here are a few ideas.

  • Will you need to feature really deep discounts? Oh yes. But not on everything! Choose one item, and make a statement. Your customers don't want "cheap steak." They want "steak, cheap!" 
     
  • In the interests of social distancing, offer your best customers special shopping times, by appointment. Nine p.m. to midnight, anybody?
     
  • Send out special "invitation only" offers to your customers via email. Make it clear that they are getting something special. Offer them a way to reserve the merchandise, and pick it up from you.
     
  • Plan tent sale or sidewalk sale galas. But beware..."Tent suppliers across the country say they are inundated with calls from restaurants and retailers that hope moving business outside will lure customers as pandemic lockdowns ease."*** 
    If you can, this is the time to rent a tent with an unusual shape, or color. (Check out the geodesic domes.)

     

Do whatever it takes to make it fun! Make it specialTurn your glut inventory into cash asap. 

--
"Shoppers Can Expect a Season of Store Sales", Aisha Al-Muslim, The Wall Street Journal, June 2, 2020.
** "Amazon plans summer sale for June 22 to 'jumpstart sales' after coronavirus crunch." Annie Palmer, CNBC, June 2, 2020.
*** Demand for Tents Expands, Julie Wernau, The Wall Street Journal, June 8, 2020. 



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