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.
Yes, we know. Owning a retail business these days is one flexibility test after another. And there are no one-size-fits-all solutions.
In the United States, one of the most widespread impacts of the virus is uncertainty. With no end in sight. It is the virus that is in charge. As the president of Alaska Airlines noted, "We don't know what the future looks like."*
But the fact remains, whomever is selling to the ultimate consumer has leverage. Might that be you?
In recent weeks, we have had phone conversations with a wide variety of retailers. A common thread in those conversations was the discovery by the retailers that they were no longer totally at the mercy of vendors, landlords, lenders, or the kind. For some, quite a surprising realization!
All that is critically important to keep in mind as you deal with your vendor's sales reps, very anxious to meet their sales goals.
Their companies are focused on the larger picture. Anticipating that 2020 will have significant losses, these companies recognize the importance of maintaining customers for 2021 and beyond (like your stores) over maintaining margins this year.
In other words, vendors now are more willing to be flexible. Your sales rep won't be volunteering that info. You may have to insist, but it can be done.
Moreover, you have more choices available today. With the rise of online wholesale marketplaces, there are many more ways for you to acquire merchandise, with smaller minimums, or guaranteed sales, or access to unique products, and more.
The constant theme is that vendors, landlords, and others now are much more willing to be flexible. You, the retailer, have more control than ever before.
Yes, you are in the driver's seat! Don't squander your clout.
You have the most precious commodity of all: the ultimate consumer.
* Alaska Airlines President Ben Minicucci navigates unprecedented turbulence. Andrew McIntosh, Puget Sound Business Journal, July 27, 2020.
Let's assume your stores have been closed for weeks now.
We recognize how conscientious you are. So, after paying what you can to your employees (and yourself), the next most-worrisome dilemma is your rent.
As you likely have discovered, a common choice for many landlords is to offer to defer your payments. But that means taking on more debt, as those payments are only being postponed to a later point in time.
You need a better solution than that.
Each of us, our households, businesses and communities are in different stages of shutdown due to the coronavirus.
While we cannot speak to when this will end, we do have some ideas for dealing with the "fog of uncertainty" that hangs over us all.
As your stores are able to re-open after the coronavirus shutdowns, how they look tells a powerful story. And for you, a great opportunity.
This is no time to try to go back to normal, back to business-as-usual. Nor to simply have all kinds of protective shields in your store. While necessary, how welcoming is that?
Instead, this actually IS a second chance to make a good first impression! Take full advantage!
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.
As more stores are able to reopen, and more shoppers are willing to emerge, what will they encounter?
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.
Since 1999, empowering retailers and store owners to "Turn on your financial headlights!"