Retailers must “readjust their strategies and find unique ways to lock in customers as business works its way back to equilibrium” suggests a recent SupermarketNews article.
While many parts of the country are moving faster toward recovery from the pandemic, many others are not. This variation will complicate larger chains as they attempt to modify programs, inventory, and policies going forward. Plus there are unanswered questions regarding the ‘pandemic-era’ behaviors that will stick versus those that won’t.
Three specific areas that are likely to complicate ‘business as usual’ for supermarkets are:
Supply Chain Fragility
COVID-19 has brought about severe backlog in the supply chain, affecting retailers and consumers alike. In addition, the container ship that blocked the Suez Canal for six days in March further caused delays. And while the pandemic has also created ripple effects industrywide, these challenges have been especially felt by independent retailers, many of which have struggled to keep essential goods stocked.
Reimagining the Retail Calendar
While certain pre-pandemic consumer habits are reverting to ‘the way it used to be’ other habits established in 2020 will remain even as the seasons change. As consumer behaviors have changed, traditional seasonal demand is likely to be affected, and retailers will need to reimagine inventory and promotional strategies.
Prioritize Local Customers
Just as the saying “all politics are local” might apply to an election strategy, catering to the unique needs of local or regional customers will be a must for all retailers, who must rethink how they will go about creating a unique experience that will lock in their customers. Inventory must look different from store to store, and a knowledge of local consumer preferences must drive the overall approach to inventory / assortment management. Catering to specific needs or preferences is likely to become more important in the quest for customer loyalty as well – i.e., are people in the neighborhood cooking at home for themselves or are they now entertaining?
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