Emergency Retail Management – Merchandising in a Complex World

Just a few months ago – essential retailers faced an unexpected situation. There were shortages of essential items and customers were frantically running from one store to another to stock up on items of daily use.

Toilet paper was probably the rarest commodity during that time!

As this was an unprecedented situation, the government stepped in to quickly draft and issue guidance for essential retail stores.

Now that things have calmed down, it is a good time for brands and retailers to reflect and put contingency plans in place for emergency retail management.

These plans can help you deal with any unexpected surprises in the future!

How do you prepare…

a)  Look beyond short-term goals – understand customer behaviour

Customer behaviours have changed. The pandemic has altered customer preferences, especially when it comes to where, how, and what they purchase.

Understanding consumer behaviours is essential to tailor your offerings and services. For instance, if you’ve seen a rise in curbside pick-up requests, you would need to allocate resources accordingly to ensure that you’re fulfilling orders promptly and efficiently.

Similarly, leverage your communication channels to keep the customers updated about your policies and social distancing practices to help build confidence and enable them to safely return to the stores.

b)  Have inventory management plans in place

As discussed earlier, grocery store stockouts were a major problem at the start of the pandemic. As people prepared for potential two-week quarantines, items started disappearing from the shelves.

If you’re an essential retailer – now that you’ve experienced which items were in high demand – you can look at increasing inventory of these items when engaging in demand-planning activities. Similarly, you also need to review your supply chain to minimize possible disruptions – if and when a second wave comes.

According to research, 94% of the Fortune 1000 companies experienced COVID-19 related supply chain disruptions.

Hence, it is critical to have a holistic approach and build in sufficient flexibility in your processes to create a buffer against potential disruptions. You can look at leveraging technology solutions to have an insight-driven end-to-end supply chain strategy.

c)  Bolster e-Commerce offerings

Statistics Canada shares that on a year-over-year basis, retail e-commerce increased 70.6% in June 2020. This shows that e-commerce can contribute positively to your business’s long-term success.

It is important to take this time to review your current e-commerce offerings and work on them.

Retailers, particularly non-essential retailers, who are agile and have a customer-centred approach will be in the best position to face the challenges that future emergencies can bring.

Learn how we can help you prepare for the future of retail through customized in-store and online solutions. Contact us today to learn more. Call 1-877-421-5081 or visit www.storesuppport.ca.

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