Managing spiking demands, safeguarding shoppers and employees, and anticipating a new normal. These are some of the big issues that retail is facing amid the COVID-19 crisis. Considering their role in helping communities to stay stocked up on essential goods, retailers’ ability to quickly adapt to this new reality was of vital importance. This article exposes the most notable topics and reactions in the sector.
Grocery stores have remained open to service large numbers of people. The first priority was to maintain hygiene measures and social distancing.
A list of actions that are observed:
Consumer needs and expectations are rapidly developing during the evolution of the outbreak. Depending on the country and specific stage - or so-called threshold level - it is experiencing, there are major disruptions in what people are buying and how they prefer to do so.
Retailers have to stay constantly aware and informed of what is happening locally.
Next to hoarding behaviour on products like toilet paper and pasta, there are examples of consumers selecting healthy food the one week, and buying indulgence products like cakes - or home baking products - the other. Next to that, the enormous boost in online shopping raises several struggles by itself, whereas demands exceed capacity.
As a result of these rapid changes, retailers simplify their operations and focus on supply chain continuity for prioritized products. This means proactively managing high variation in demand with measures such as:
While addressing these short-term challenges, retailers are also working to foresee the post-pandemic ‘new normal’. Predicted trends are for example online shopping becoming mainstream and a need for radical transparency in supply chains. Furthermore, this crisis causes retailers to recognize the need for building resilience to cope with similar situations in the future.
In anticipating these developments, the following issues are relevant:
For the longer term, business strategies could be reshaped profoundly. Possibilities include new partnerships with food service or tech companies as well as finding new franchise models of ways to improve the value chain, e.g by vertical integration.
We are issuing some articles to help guide you through these challenging times:
More articles are available on our website.