With the current situation, it feels like being in retail is about surviving.
Retailers are in survival mode, desperately trying to maintain routes to market and supply chains in a world turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic. Suddenly having the ability to conduct business online is vital to continuance. Even start-ups and local producers are setting up online shops and rapidly upscaling their Social Media presence to make it through the next few days, weeks and months of Social Distancing.
But what happens after the current lockdown ends and the world slowly starts to return to the new normal? In a post-COVID-19 world, the retail industry will have changed in ways that we will feel the effects for years to come.
However, out of the crisis, new opportunities are arising.
The current crisis will create many opportunities for retail businesses to thrive and grow. Eventually, people will return to high streets and shopping centres. Savvy retailers will meet consumers’ social and emotional needs for shopping trips and days out, needs that have been elevated by weeks of lockdown. However, to truly thrive in the new era, businesses will also need a robust online presence and a reliable supply chain. The shift to ecommerce will continue as late adopters, through necessity, have now experienced the conveniences of online shopping. Many of these new online shoppers will remain in this sphere.
We have seen a significant change in purchasing habits, as consumers are forced to adapt to where and how they shop. This effect is a knock-on from supply chains struggling to get goods into the major retailers, and essential products prioritised over luxuries. Rather than a weekly supermarket shop, consumers are buying in bulk and shopping directly with their favourite brands. Many of these new trends will become habits as consumers realise the convenience, savings and emotional benefits on offer.
Retailers have taken products and services online that they would have never even considered a few weeks ago. Consumers have seen that it is possible to get their favourite local artisan bread and take part in a workout class from the comfort of their own homes. All of a sudden, a world of new possibility has opened up for both businesses and consumers to access goods and services online and in ways previously not explored.
Unfortunately, there are also openings in the market where some retailers have been unable to weather the storm.
New markets, new customers and changing consumer habits…….how can retailers take advantage of these opportunities to grow and thrive?
One way to ensure your business can take advantage of current and emerging opportunities is to consider moving Storage and Fulfilment to an Outsourced Solution like PHL. Many companies will be entering the world of online order fulfilment and logistics for the first time…. and finding out the challenges this brings. Other companies may be re-evaluating their current logistics arrangements and looking at how to future proof their supply chain and online delivery services.
One thing COVID-19 has taught us is that Delivery and Logistics provisions will need to have flex and scalability to cope with the demand and changes in shopping habits. Fulfilment experts, such as PHL, have robust contingency plans and resources in place to deal with either a rapid increase or decrease in orders, stock and customer services. So if you suddenly find your business swamped with demand, there will be flex in the system to manage this as effortlessly as possible. Conversely, if you find the need for your products and services drop, you will not be carrying too much overhead in your logistics operation for it to be a drag on finances.
Outsourcing logistics can also help business agility in times of disruption, freeing up time to focus on business development while adding services and know-how rapidly. PHL can make sure you are in the best position to react to a changing marketplace, adapting your business quickly and efficiently and without disruption. One of our newest clients shared the following feedback about their experience during the COVID-19 crisis.
“I just wanted to personally thank you and the entire team at PHL for working so hard. You guys have been awesome, and we have not even felt the effect of the virus crisis when it comes to your response and quality of work.
We are very fortunate to have found you guys, especially now that Nimble is growing so fast and needed Rockstar partners to grow with.”
Smart retailers will also find themselves auditing their sales and marketing plans in light of the opportunities created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Companies will want to re-evaluate how much emphasis they place on direct online sales, rather than relying on major retailers and marketplaces such as Amazon.
An excellent eCommerce store not only provides an independent route to market but offers many advantages; from complete control over how you showcase your brand to how customers’ experience your products and services. Creating loyalty with bulk discounts, free shipping, and reward programs will all be essential to capitalise on changing habits and winning market share.
A fantastic website and robust logistics are just some of the ways new and existing online business to help adapt to the changing retail landscape and take advantage of new opportunities and consumer habits. To find out more about PHL’s top tips for achieving online success, read our Top 10 Fulfilment Tips for Growing Your Online Business in 2020!