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.

This Lull Is a Drag

There are three "pandemics" assailing us at the moment: the coronavirus; the economic collapse; the protests of racial injustice. The three months plus of stay at home restrictions and the shutdowns, and the confluence of these three pandemics has been a heavy burden. And it shows no signs of going away anytime soon.

As the coronavirus continues to spread and surge (Apple re-closing 11 stores they had recently re-opened is a sobering reminder), the uncertainty and anxiety is only being prolonged.

 

It's not just retail owners who are unsettled by all this. So are your customers! Few people are drawn to a constant state of uncertainty. (Ever noticed those who skip ahead to the last chapter, or seek out "spoiler alerts"?)

Here's the opportunity amidst all this uncertainty: When "Everything is changing," when "Nobody expects to 'go back to normal'," what better time to reinvent your operation?  Now's the time to make sure that the business is working for you, the owner.

Maybe as you've gradually re-opened, it has been on a very reduced schedule (eg, 5 days per week – Wednesday through Sunday – 8 hours a day. Key staff are working full time; online sales are happening 24/7.) Why rush to expand those hours? Just because that's what we used to do? Hmm. Maybe not.

 

Also, what about your vendors? Which vendors do you most want to continue with? Grow with? And yes, which vendors or lines or categories are you most comfortable letting slip away Customers will be understanding. 

 

Think about one or two restaurants you frequent. As they have re-opened, how has their menu changed? What's gone? What's featured more?  What does that suggest about their thinking?

 

Actually, the same applies to your customers. Which customer groups do you most want to serve? How much is it costing your business – in time, money, resources – to attract and serve those groups? Might there be customer groups you could just assign to the "surrender school of marketing": if they come in, fine. Just don't spend anything pursuing them. 

 

What else might need to be re-invigorated? How about your staff? How might you take better advantage of their talents and strengths? Or, is it time to bring in some new people? 

 

In retailing, change always has been the name of the game. And now, 2020 has amplified that many times over

For the savvy retailer, these unprecedented times offer an overriding excuse, a wonderful cover, for any and all changes in your business, 

There will be no better time in our lifetimes to rewrite the script for your stores.Not only what you want, but what do your primary customers really want from your stores?



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