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Retail recovery: Redefining “business as usual”

Kees Jacobs

Today’s health emergency has introduced an unprecedented level of disruption to people’s daily lives. While many are eager to return to normal, organisations must consider what that really means.

For retailers, recovery will not be a return to “business as usual”, but an entirely new reality—one in which the consumer will have fundamentally different needs, preferences and expectations.

While it is not yet clear how our current environment will change shopping habits in the months to come, there are several baseline trends that are likely to alter the retail landscape forever:

  • Home delivery: Online shopping is hardly a new experience for many people. And yet, this period has created a mass trial of sorts, as every customer becomes a digital shopper overnight. With the barrier to entry now removed, retailers are likely to see customers continue to rely on digital channels, even after “shelter in place” orders are relaxed. This evolution will have huge implications for how retailers build their supply chains, invest in resources and staff their business.
  • Remote work: While not all people have the ability to work from home, a large subset of the population is now trialing the home office—and many are seeing the benefits in terms of productivity, efficiency and overall satisfaction. If current remote work capabilities are extended once the health emergency is over, we are likely to see major shifts both in when and where people shop and how they consume products. What does that mean for retailers and consumer products companies? How will it change the demand? How will it alter buying habits?
  • Community: Times of hardship have been known to bring communities closer together—and this situation is no different. Despite being physically apart, so many people feel closer than ever. In the retail world, we see an example of this in home delivery. With windows in high demand, some neighborhoods have pooled orders, designating a de facto distribution hub for neighbors, friends and family. It is this focus on the collective good that should make retailers reconsider how they weave their core values into the customer experience in the weeks and months to come.

As retailers develop an effective recovery strategy, it will be important to harness the power of data to determine how consumer behaviors and sentiment has changed. Our .

As seen through this engagement with Unilever, we work with clients to develop a holistic data strategy to help improve supply chain resiliency and agility. Our capability Smart Retail Planner Overview and report Digital Supply Chain, provide more information about how organisations can use data to adjust their supply-side operations to meet the demands of today’s environment.