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.
We once knew a lady of an earlier generation who steadfastly championed the idea that Labor Day should be considered New Year's Eve, and the Tuesday after Labor Day as the start of the New Year. (Yes, she was ahead of her time in many other ways as well.)
Here's her reasoning about the "real" New Year's Eve: as summer fades away and vacations end, the new school year starts up; the baseball season pennant race is on; football games begin. As all this happens, she explained, most people take on a renewed sense of energy.
The promise of a fresh start is everywhere. Optimism abounds!
Wouldn't 2020 be a great year to cut short? Aren't we all ready to turn the page on it?
Well, while we cannot do it officially, we can embrace that New Year state of mind.
And you have the opportunity to shed some of the "we always did it that way" practices. Go for it! Because, well, 2020.
Remember, your best shoppers always want to know "What's new?" The better job you do of sharing the joy of all that newness with your shoppers, the better it will be.
Here are some reminders of where you might start:
And yes, work on those New Year's resolutions, too!
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.
A few years ago, during a planning session in our office, we drew a quick diagram on a whiteboard. It showed three shapes.
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.
The Retail Owners Institute® has developed a retail strategy for "Inventory Management Going Forward."
As we often do, it was recapped as an unassuming chart (see above) identifying the Five Stages of Merchandise Mix Management, from "Before COVID-19" to the "New Normal?"
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."
There's little that any of us can do to address the public health crisis of the pandemic. Its impact on people and businesses is a widespread and major jolt, akin to the shocks of 9/11 and the 2008-09 economic meltdown.
Even as painful and disruptive as the pandemic is at this moment, we must remind ourselves that it will subside. It's not whether it will subside, just when.
But all of us are going to have to deal with the ensuing economic situation, and its effects on our sales, our customers, our employees.
These are difficult times for us all. Retailing in particular is under enormous stress. Many feel like there are no good choices.
But, there are good decisions. And The ROI is dedicated to helping you be able to make those good decisions for yourself.
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.
Since 1999, empowering retailers and store owners to "Turn on your financial headlights!"