Blog Post - Chioma Anokuru, Aug 19 2020

The challenges continue for retail: What can the industry do about it?

The challenges continue for retail: What can the industry do about it?

An estimated one billion people have lived in lockdown at some point this year. This has caused a lot of disruption. Tens of thousands of on-premise operations, including many retailers, have had to close their doors. For any retailer, undoubtedly the most pressing concern (aside from their health) is the significant impact this has had on sales.

This isn’t the first time we’ve experienced this. During the 14th century, a deadly disease spread across parts of Asia and Europe. It was the bubonic plague, otherwise known as the Black Death.

Traders were responsible for the spread of the disease as they moved across the world and interacted with people. It ultimately meant infection passed quickly from person-to-person. As a result, many Elizabethans went into isolation.

Exactly how sales were affected by the plague is a different story, but it’s fair to say it had a significant impact on trade, not to mention threatened the lives of traders and consumers of the time.

Despite eCommerce allowing many to continue trading online at a safe distance, the threat of dwindling sales remain.

Firstly, retailers may be unable to sell due to lack of product availability. Travel restrictions have disrupted supply chains resulting in delayed deliveries of new stock. This is especially frustrating for those who are currently seeing high demand through online channels.

Secondly, unemployment figures are drastically rising with the UK officially now in a recession. In turn consumers’ purse strings are tightening with the priority being placed on essential items.

Businesses have to respond to these consumer behaviours rapidly in order to minimise the impact or, in some cases, survive. Yet the sheer speed at which circumstances are evolving and the multiple pressure points being faced by retailers make it difficult to know where to focus and what to prioritise.

Introducing Covid-19 “Business Fightback” resources

In response to this, we’ve created a series of resources aimed at helping businesses impacted by COVID-19 measures, to ensure they’re able to pivot to safety and success in these difficult times.

Our most recent playbook looks closely at the drop in demand and sales due to a number of scenarios.

We advise retailers experiencing a decline in sales and/or demand on a wide range of strategies to recover lost ground and forge new opportunities such as; setting up a D2C website, digital payment offerings and optimised product ranges. We give guidance on what to do and how to do it.

And for retailers unable to meet demand due to supply chain issues, we share our thoughts a variety of solutions including strengthening supplier networks and warehouse management.

There will be various models and management solutions that can emerge when tackling these topics, which we explain in greater detail in the playbook as well as give direction on cost saving exercises and effective investments.

There is no silver bullet, but hopefully these resources will give you and your business an essential tool to combat some of the issues you may be facing.

If we haven’t said it enough already, we know these are challenging times; however we have an advantage over our Elizabethan predecessors in our ability to use digital and eCommerce channels for safely staying connected with customers and getting them the products they need.

The Drop in Demand & Sales playbook is one of a series of “Business Fightback” content resources created by Wunderman Thompson Commerce to help bolster businesses in the current COVID-19 impacted climate, addressing the key challenges such as a drop in demand, loyalty and footfall, as well as the new opportunities, including the accelerated transition to online shopping.

View our COVID-19 resources