Flexibility, Creativity and Agility

D2C, Fulfilment, Retail, Strategy

Written by Guest Editor and good friend of The Retail Hive, Ray Fowler

Businesses have gone from taking 3-6 months to implement change, to 3 days in order to adapt to a pandemic world. The strategy for adapting appears to be “react immediately” in which you need to be flexible, agile and creative.

One of the most notable changes in retail are that of purchasing patterns. For example, grocers have seen a massive shift back to weekly but larger shops, basket sizes may have increased but the frequency of these shops have decreased. To reflect the shift in customer purchasing patterns, the big supermarket chains have changed their purchase patterns. As floor space becomes more valuable, they are reducing their product range but are increasing the unit orders of the range. For example, these supermarkets could have reduced their range in mustard from 19 to 9 but have increased the units of these 9 mustards.

This shift is by no means limited to the groceries; tech companies have seen a surge in products that help make working from home easier. To help accommodate to this, some are now accelerating the shift from B2B to D2C in order to get their products to their customers quicker. This shift was most likely on the business trajectory prior to the pandemic world, but it has had to be accelerated to help with the demand.

Coping with this demand, and a sudden accelerated trajectory requires flexible, agile and creative businesses. Here are just a few great examples of flexibility, agility and creativity:

  1. Use your retail floor staff to boost online sales. Use channels like WhatsApp to create online (human) sales consultants for immediate product guidance and customer queries.
  2. Dark stores are the future. Even with shops opening up again, social distancing and safety measures have severely reduced footfall. During quiet periods close the store and set up video calls with customers purchasing high value products. Give these customers the 1:1 support for a sale, and provide technical support.
  3. A change in operations with Amazon has meant that some businesses have had to take back in house and as that had worked, they will now combine that part of delivery operation into their new fulfilment strategy where it works with drop ship.
  4. For retailers that are reducing SKU range, revise your business plan to focus on a more complete experience. Retrain your staff if need be, as these retailers will start passing the impact of substitution and nil packs back to the brand.
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