By Eliana Barriga
Publisher and Managing Editor for The Retail Observer
Keeping services relevant amidst uncertainty
I don’t know about you, but the surreal world we find ourselves living in at the moment certainly is keeping us on our toes, dancing to the tune of a new jig. “On the fly” thinking is an extremely valuable and necessary skill to have or to be developing at this time. Thinking fast and taking quick action is the name of the game here now. This is what will keep our businesses relevant and profitable. It’s time to come up with sustainable ways of doing business now, as well as into the future.
As a consumer, I have noticed that many websites are outdated, and even more sites are not adapting their selling strategies to fit the rapidly changing climate. This adaptation is essential to help customers navigate the purchase of goods and services sold by your establishment, whether the doors are currently open or closed. People are too stressed with daily life right now to be frustrated by the purchase and delivery process they want and need from you. When the experience is seamless, the stress levels stay low, encouraging return sales as well as referrals.
Take Panera Bread’s recent solution, for example. They were classified as a restaurant and deemed non-essential when the stay-at-home order came down. Panera’s chief decision makers noted that grocery stores were deemed essential, so they added a grocery store to their business model and packaged their meals, produce, bread and began delivering these products via local delivery services, in addition to curb-side pickup. They also are selling these products in local grocery stores nationwide. With a revamped, beautiful, and very user-friendly website, ordering from Panera is now super easy to receive their yummy food, delivered right to your home, hassle free.
I know there are a lot of inspirational examples of businesses working within the confines of the crisis, finding creative ways to succeed. Do you have a story you’d like to tell? We would like to highlight these stories in future issues, so please write to us and share what you are doing to not only survive, but to actually thrive in 2020!
Reinventing the way we do business...
By Moe Lastfogel
Director of Sales and Marketing for The Retail Observer
“We are optimistic that things will turn around soon, and that we will be back to normal sooner then we think. We know it will take some time before everyone feels safe again, but I think we are lucky to be in this industry. I believe we are in the right place, at the right time for people to renovate, remodel, and reinvest in their sanctuary. We must remain positive, and not lose sight that we have been here before, and that we are resilient, and will come back stronger than ever.” —Anonymous
As I sit in on Zoom meetings and talk with our various partners, I feel proud to say I am a part of what’s happening in the industries we cover. Every day I see more and more associations, trade shows, vendors and buying groups coming together to assist you – the independent retailers, designers, and contractors – in your day-to-day businesses.
Nationwide and BrandSource Buying groups have created not only Covid resource pages but programs to get your businesses back on track as well. Additionally,they are offering assistance with signage, business loan processing, and website development to get your E-commerce sites up and running. They are working diligently with vendors and distributors to get you the products you need to keep your customers buying from you. As I write this, reports to-date show businesses up in sales and volume in various categories.
Many of our manufacturers are up and running, including our European and Asian Partners. I have seen virtual CEU programs and web-based training direct from the manufacturer or their vendor partners. NARI, ASID, AIA and the NKBA have conducted studies and surveys, created webinars, and have setup sections on their sites to givey ou industry related Covid news and tips to help you in your businesses.
Although many trade shows have been cancelled, many have set up virtual show programs where you can buy and interact with their various vendor partners and speakers. The shows that are still scheduled are setting up new markets that will feature new layouts designed to enable social distancing, traffic controls, and virtual components.
Seeing everyone come together and helping each other at this time of uncertainty has been amazing. We will keep an eye out on the Industry as things progress and will keep bringing you the news and information as we have for 50 years. Again, thanks to all of our partners for helping you, our readers, keep your businesses up and running.
Happy and Safe Retailing,