More than two years after the global pandemic first began, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the retail business might start to improve during 2022, however as someone who’s been involved in business for the better part of five decades, experience tells me that we’ve still got a rocky road ahead.
While the virus is continuing to cause disruption among the retail industry, there are other issues also at play, including supply chain congestion, product shortages, and the recent rise in fuel costs.
The impacts are being felt now and are likely to continue for a while yet.
Add to this, a general shift in consumer behaviour toward the delivery service model, and you can understand why some businesses might be feeling nervous.
I’m not one to offer unsolicited advice, however with 50 years’ experience behind me, I’d say to those retailers who haven’t already, now is the time to embrace change and adapt quickly, or else risk being left behind.
While delivery is not new for consumers, the global pandemic expedited the take-up of this option, to the point where there’s now very little that can’t be dropped at your front door.
As a business that has previously succeeded because our customers literally drive to our stores, I’m not afraid to admit the idea of not only adopting, but encouraging our customers to have their coffee delivered, was disconcerting.
However, as fuel costs rise, and motorists genuinely start to reconsider the need to get in their cars, embracing the delivery model has offered a new opportunity to reach our customers.
For those still resisting, I’d suggest you reconsider, and soon.
Aside from adopting the delivery model in some form, there are also other measures retailers can take to give themselves the best possible chance of withstanding the challenges ahead.
- Adapt to changing technologies: Where tap-and-go was once the latest payment option, customers are now willing and able to pay for products via apps, smart phones, and smart-watches. It is vital that businesses adopt this technology quickly to ensure customers can pay through any and all methods available.
- Build strong relationships: This applies not just for your immediate business contacts, but more broadly outside your industry. You never know when you might need advice, knowledge outside your sector, or even a favour.
- Be flexible: The ongoing supply chain issues are having a major impact on our business, affecting the supply of a wide-variety of produce including ham, cheese and even potato-based products. However, the ability and willingness to find new supply lines and products, often at short notice, means we’ve been able to continue to fill orders and supply our customers.
- Embrace consumer behaviours: There’s no point wishing for the past. If consumers change their behaviour, we have no choice but to change with them and embrace new trends. Whether this is mode of transport, payment, or preference for a particular product, if you don’t provide what your customer is demanding, you will very quickly have no customers.
Of course, the pandemic continues to present ongoing issues, including exacerbating staff shortages in an already tight market.
There have also been isolation and quarantine requirements to abide by, and up until recently, travel restrictions, which has forced many of us into the virtual boardroom.
At my age, I can tell you Zoom meetings aren’t my preference, but I have learned that my personal likes and dislikes have nothing to do with being successful. It’s about adapting, changing, and always moving forward.
By all means, you can refuse to change and continue to be a dinosaur, but let me tell you, there are none walking around the planet.
Warren Reynolds is the major shareholder and executive chairman of Muzz Buzz.