Retail Express Founder & CEO Aaron Blackman discusses the critical decisions that fashion retailers need to make to survive and thrive in the post-COVID next normal.
Fashion retailers have been devastated by COVID-19 with the simultaneous impacts of ‘supply and demand shocks’ due to lockdown measures to limit the spread of the virus.
People are social distancing, working remotely and staying at home away from retail stores.
But the good news is they haven’t disappeared.
They are being more conservative with their expenditure and are buying some different products – but they are still shopping.
While the recovery is going to be challenging, it’s also a time of opportunity. A chance to reassess your strategies and reinvent your business model.
So, what are the key strategies and key decisions that retailers need to make now?
1) Adopt a lean, agile, and resilient mindset
The retailers that emerge stronger will be the ones that address three critical factors: cost, speed, and resilience.
The impact on revenue will require a reduction in your cost base but it needs to be smart.
Look for ways to improve operational efficiency while doing minimal harm to key capabilities.
The ability to react and adapt quickly to change will also be critical and use this time to work with your leadership team to build a culture of resilience.
2) Review your technology stack efficiency
Many retailers have seen a massive spike in their eCommerce channels and for some this has resulted in crashing servers and online fulfillment processes – leading to lost sales.
Retailers across the board have fast tracked a range of tactical measures to rapidly increase online and ecommerce capacity to keep revenue flowing.
Now is the time to step back and take the time to design a more robust and flexible operating model.
Review your current technology stack and look for all possible efficiency gains and make sure you are thinking long term.
3) Prioritise investment in omnichannel
During lockdown consumers have embraced shopping online including for categories that they traditionally purchased instore and those who would have never shopped online have started out of necessity.
While it’s likely that we will see an aggregate increase in ecommerce going forward, now is a good time to assess how well your online and offline channels are integrated.
The changes in buyer behaviour mean retailers should be implementing the following strategies to maximise customer experience and sales:
• Show live stock in store
• Offer instant click and collect
• Leverage stock from all store locations online
• Ship from store with decentralised fulfilment
• Endless aisles and special orders
• Cross channel gift cards
This is also the time to re-evaluate the role of your stores.
The store of the future needs to deliver an experience or destination that offers a compelling point of differentiation, through experiential marketing and immersive brand experiences that cannot be replicated online.
Making the right decisions now, will help you not only survive but emerge leaner and more agile and ready to thrive.
Retail Express is the leading Cloud POS Software for fashion and footwear retailers powering the growth of some of Australia and New Zealand’s leading omnichannel retail success stories. With more powerful tools and deeper data analytics capabilities, retailers can unlock the insights and practices needed to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage. For more information and insights visit retailexpress.com.au.