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.
"Retailing dead?" Hardly!
“Retailing” is selling to the ultimate consumer. That is not going away, in spite of the current perception.
What IS (appropriately!) endangered? Deadly retail real estate! Conventional, impersonal, and boring brick-n-mortar stores are deadly.
Savvy merchants are re-imagining their stores as the new “third place”, offering a community separate from home or workplace. Especially in the next 12-15 months, offering a place for enthusiasts of a store’s brand or products will be invaluable.
Many consumers will likely lack discretionary buying power.
But more than ever, they will crave a sense of community. Remote jobs and working from home have only increased this desire.
Whether it’s a pet store, kitchen store, auto parts, hardware, electronics, apparel stores, bookstores, jewelry stores; no matter the merchandise, there are enthusiasts who care about it, and want to be close to it.
What constitutes success?
New metrics will need to be applied to these re-imagined stores. Instead of the old metrics of sales per square foot, or sales per employee, stores now will be treated by suppliers much more like a media platform.
Just like a website, or social media presence, this new generation of brick-n-mortar stores should be evaluated for their advertising and marketing outreach.
How effectively are they positioning and reinforcing the store’s brand?
Do they tell the story?
Are they filling this need?
Are they good “influencers?”
Are they adequately appealing to and bonding with their loyalists?
That customer relationship, that connection, is meaningful for retailer and customer alike. And it is just one of the many changes enlivening retailing today.
"Is retailing dead?" Heck no. In our opinion, it's more alive than ever!
YOU are the leader we need now!
Most of the people who receive our weekly newsletter from The Retail Owners Institute® are either owners of stores (duh...) or work with retail owners, not only in America but around the world.
When you think about it, owners and senior management of retail businesses are looked upon as leaders everyday, by employees, by suppliers, by customers, by their families and often by the media. You are community builders.
Amidst this pandemic, your leadership is more vital than ever.
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?"
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.
For retailers, the uncertainties caused by the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic are unrelenting.
So, what should we do with this additional "found time," waiting for the customers? That's a question we CAN answer!
As you are sorting out how best to reopen, we encourage you to be bold about embracing technology. Not just a POS system upgrade with better e-commerce capability. There's much more that warrants your attention.
There's a whole alphabet of resources out there, already being embraced by many: ML (machine learning); AI (artificial intelligence); AR (augmented reality), QR (Quick Response matrix barcodes). All enabling chatbots, robots, digital displays and much else to become "smarter" and more applicable.
Remember thinking that Amazon was the most disruptive force to happen to retailing? (Well, at least since Walmart was the most disruptive....)
However, the coronavirus pandemic eclipses them all. No matter where you live or do business, it is not whether, just when, COVID-19 will impact your life. Disruption with a capital D!
Retailing is so great. Every retailer is an optimist, a people-person, and a bold risk taker. (We know; we were one.) Every retailer wants to get their stores re-opened, and their staff people re-employed.
Granted, there are many arguments, pro and con, about "Re-Opening the Economy." And in a number of communities in the U.S. and elsewhere, some re-opening of stores and restaurants is occurring.
Since 1999, empowering retailers and store owners to "Turn on your financial headlights!"