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.
FIVE STAGES OF MERCHANDISE MIX MANAGEMENT
STAGE 1: WHERE YOU WERE PRE-COVID 19
STAGE 2: RE-OPENING MIX
STAGE 3: THE NEXT PHASE
STAGE 4: “WHEW! NOW WE CAN GET BACK TO NORMAL!”
STAGE 5: THE NEW NORMAL?
AND NOW, YOUR BIG PICTURE THINKING
Experienced retailers know this instinctively. We offer these charts (which are not based on any specific operation or numbers, or timeline) as an example of how you might quickly bring other folks up to speed with the changes you must be making.
And we hope it might inspire you to make your own "Big Picture" charts. Remember, no specific numbers, no definite timetables. Just Big Picture ideas: What might your merchandise mix look like at each of these five stages?
Nobody knows your business better than you. Get cracking!!
Alas, there is really no way to avoid discussing COVID-19, the coronavirus that began in China last month, and now continues to spread throughout the world.
No matter whether or when it is officially declared a "pandemic," the uncertainty and angst that it is generating have troubling implications for retailers.
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."
That's a sign of the times, isn't it?
While retailers are more accustomed than most folks to cope with change, 2020's unrelenting flexibility tests have been a challenge. Forget about five years. Retailers have to be ready for the next five months! It's back-to-school and then Holiday.
The only certainty about the next five months is that they will probably feel like the past five months. Yet you still must run a retail business. And that means you still must buy and sell merchandise.
The opportunities – and the pressures – are mounting.
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?"
YOUR GOAL: QUICKLY GET TO A FIRST DRAFT.
Face it. Sales are dropping. By how much? For how long? Nobody knows for sure.
But, you can make some assumptions, some educated guesses. Put those into the 3-in-1 Cash Flow Calculator.
These totally volatile times cause a lot of opinions and fears to be swirling around. Seeing "what if...?" can be very helpful.
All in just minutes. On your own.
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."
Since 1999, empowering retailers and store owners to "Turn on your financial headlights!"