Why Agility Will Be Essential on the Road to Recovery
With the reopening of non-essential stores within reaching distance for many countries around the world, Reflexis joined with experts from Lush UK, Sacoor Brothers and OC&C to discuss what the road ahead will look like for retailers. While there were many important insights, the clear message was that retailers need to be agile in their approach and to “plan to be wrong”. Watch the full webinar here.
“An intense period of reflection for the industry”
The webinar began with a keynote presentation from Partner and International Head of Retail at OC&C, Matt Coode. His sobering message that despite different pathways globally, it is likely that we will see some form of lockdown until Christmas, was offset by some positivity. He recognised that those retailers that were able to develop the most agile labour models and can phase their reopening with careful planning, would be the ones that succeed. But it certainly will still be a bumpy ride that will need a lot of communication and support.
“We are not just picking up from where we left off”
For retailers, reopening is about much more than simply opening the doors. Now, it requires compliance with an ever-changing set of government requirements and customer expectations, that are different depending on the store location, size and type. No two re-openings will be alike. Kat Hannible, UK Retail Director from Lush explained the approach they will be taking and how it depends entirely on the size of the store, the number of staff and the expected footfall. Through a combination of good queue management, one-way systems, online product demonstrations and the use of equipment such as plexiglass screens and recycled facemasks, retailers can do their best for a smooth reopening.
“We want customers to remember retailers fondly for supporting them through these tricky times”
But will the demand still be there? Matt Coode pointed towards research that shows that 80% of people will not enter a store where they are not sure that their health concerns have been taken into account; they want to get in and out quickly and it may be difficult to get them to try new products. However, where stores have met these challenges, they will be remembered and rewarded for doing so. As Bart Denolf, CEO at Sacoor Brothers suggests, many of the first returning shoppers to their stores outside of the UK have been high spenders and will spend more in one transaction to limit their exposure to the environment. So even though lower footfall can be expected, higher conversation rates are also on the horizon. Shoppers will plan their shopping trip much more carefully and are likely to try out their local stores before venturing further. Safety and security is, and will continue to be, paramount.
“You’ve got to plan to be wrong”
For stores that are planning their reopening, knowledge is key. Understanding the individual trends across stores is important, but the ability to act quickly was highlighted by Tor Tigerstedt as a top priority. Retailers’ usual approach to data is to act on historical figures, but in an unprecedented event this can no longer be relied on. It is therefore important to plan how to course-correct and to have the right technology in place to accurately analyse and act on real-time data in order to meet both customer and employee expectations.
“Are you ready…?”
Finally, it was agreed by all that reopening should happen on a case by case basis and that just because stores are allowed to open legally it doesn’t mean that they should do it if they’re not ready. Each store and location should be opened with discretion and ever mindful of the possibility of further restrictions, localised lockdowns and a second peak. Powerful labour scheduling tools, flexible working practices, careful logistics and a focus on safety for both staff and customers will be the key to success on retails’ road to recovery.
Click here to watch the full version of this webinar.