27 Aug We asked our speakers about COVID 19 and its impact on their operation…
1. How did covid19 limit / affect your business?
As a retailer mainly based on brick & mortar stores and limited online sales channels the lockdown has affected us directly. For a period of time, depending on the respective country, we weren’t able to trade in the stores at all which generally applied to all non-food retailers. In all cases, we have respected and followed local legislation as provided by the authorities to ensure the safety of both our customers and our co-workers.
2. What were your most useful measures to recover during the government’s restrictive measures?
Trading-wise we haven’t fully recovered and see a clear correlation in our store network between performance and a general traffic decrease. Subsequently, as the markets were allowed to reopen, we did so with appropriate safety measures and in accordance with local legislation to ensure a safe shopping- and working environment. In the wake of Covid, we have launched a series of sales events reenforcing our value proposition with our customers.
3) What would you do differently when you look back today?
Whilst noone in reality was prepared for the magnitude of Covid-19, we are content with our initial response to the pandemic. Early on we quickly prioritized customer and employee safety above everything else and shut down operations. In hindsight, the only thing we could have done better was to have an emergency-kit for our staff-members on standby. We know now that the threat was and still is very real and have as such been taking the necessary steps to ensure the continued safety of our customers and staff.
4) What changes will stay with your business due to covid19 even in the future?
In the physical stores we are replacing some of the temporary measures with permanent ones, so we are incorporating safety items as part of our standard store concept. We find that it resonates well with both customers and staff and that it’s the responsible thing to do. At the moment, there’s no telling whether Covid-19 is here to stay and for how long, so with the safety-first mindset at the forefront we are doing everything we can to meet and exceed local retail health and safety standards.
At HQ-level we are getting accustomed to the ‚new normal‘ as well implementing tools needed for working from home. As a positive side-effect of Covid-19, many colleagues have found to be as or even more productive at home than at the office whilst being safe and secure in the comfort of your own home.
5) What do you think will change fundamentally in retail after covid19 pandemics?
It is likely, that Covid-19 is here to stay – at least for a while still. This increases the importance of having alternative sales channels, such as eCommerce, to service the customers in the event of a lockdown. It is likely to think that, at least for a period, the growth in online sales will accelerate and that having timely deliveries to the customer doorstep is an essential component.
We can also see a slight increase in electronic payments – most likely for hygienic reasons – such as contactless options. Thus, the possibility to accept an array of different payment cards in order to serve the customers in the best possible way will be a necessity for the future.
For at period of time, people in general will probably be more reluctant towards going out unless strictly necessary. This will have an effect on impulse-driven businesses such as ours which essentially pushes us in a direction of having to do promote our products to a higher degree than we have done before and by doing so, gaining valuable insights on our customer base so that our value proposition can become even more relevant and diligent.
Project Manager, Store Experience Retail Excellence
Chain store Flying Tiger