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COVID-19: Retailers serving customers on the frontline

Company: ACCENTURE CENTRAL EUROPE B.V., organizační složka

Accenture POV how COVID 19 affects retail provides basic guidance for retailers for surviving the COVID 19 Crisis and also presents new opportunities for the retail industry that might arise soon. 

Accenture: How COVID-19 affects retail

COVID-19 is an unprecedented public health emergency that is rapidly transforming the way we all live our lives. It is also mandating significant changes to consumer behaviour, product demand, and retail, commerce and services availability.

“Retailers serving their communities on the frontline must put responsibility at the heart of their operations and act now to address the far-reaching implications of COVID-19 on their businesses”, says Domenico Conta, Accenture Head of Consumer Goods and Retail in CEE (Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Hungary & Romania).

How retailers can respond – now

The first step of retail leaders in response is to ensure the health and safety of store employees and public. Embedding resilience in supply chains to reduce shock waves is critical step number two. The third is to enable an elastic digital workplace that supports employees in corporate headquarters and minimizes business disruption.

In the short term, activating a business continuity strategy will depend on one question: in this time of crisis, do customers consider your products and services a “need to have” or a “nice to have”?

Priorities for retailers of essential goods and services

Radically different lifestyles caused by self-isolation, social distancing and homeworking mean consumers will prioritize spending on the essentials: food, health, hygiene, household cleaning, as well as online entertainment and exercise services. Retailers in these essential categories need to meet unprecedented demand that exceeds even holiday levels. For these retailers, the key priorities are:

  • Ensure the health and safety of employees in-store, in DCs and those doing last-mile delivery.
  • Ensure the timely replenishment of essential products on store shelves and rationing volume purchases to ensure provision for all customer groups.
  • Meet increased labor requirements to accommodate higher demand for ecommerce, click-and-collect, delivery and DC operations.
  • Be convenient for customers by entering „personal contactless“ delivery of goods either directly to home or for pickup.

Challenges for retailers of non-essential goods and services

Retailers operating in segments like apparel, beauty, luxury goods, and home improvement face different challenges:

  • Manage financial impacts of temporary store and office closures.
  • Scale ecommerce operations and switch focus to digital consumers experiences and inventory levels, as consumers turn to online ordering and home delivery.                                                  
  • Create strategies to manage inventory stuck in closed stores and ports.
  • Adopt scenario planning with value chain partners with impact on sourcing, manufacturing, and logistics.
  • Leverage new connectivity tools and ways of working to support corporate staff working remotely.

New opportunities for the retail industry

Surviving in today’s „never normal“ retail economy requires a leaner, more agile, and people-oriented operating model to support new ways of working. While the current situation is definitely challenging, it may bring a new impuls for retail:

  • The need to stay agile will drive innovation. New capabilities will increase value for both the retailer and the customer.
  • Brand partnerships will allow retailers to tap into each other’s resources to differentiate assortments, gain competitive edge and attract new consumers.
  • E-commerce becoming an integral part of purchasing habits, will help retailers getting more personal, improve precision on marketing and become more relevant.
  • Customers focusing more on their health and sustainability are opening doors for increased sales of organic products and medicine.

„The retailers that are most adaptable to change will be best positioned to ride out the immediate challenges and build even stronger businesses. Now, more than ever, is important to react to customer needs and promote Responsible Retail.“ ends Domenico Conta.

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Tags: Retail |

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