NAVIGATING UNCERTAINTY: Thought Leadership
May 2020 | ISRAEL J. RODRIGUEZ, JR.
In April, Edgewood Consulting talked to leading food, drug, mass, club and online retailers, 25 VPs, Directors, Category managers and senior buyers across several food, OTC, HBA and perimeter categories for their thoughts and perspectives on the Covid-19 crisis impact on retail and they were exceedingly honest. How do retailers feel? What are their priorities? What lessons have they learned or want to learn and what help do they want most? Here’s what we learned.
Now more than ever, retailers are eager for actionable insights and thought leadership from trusted suppliers, manufacturers and consultants who can tailor them to their needs.
- Understand what happened and where they stand
- How to recover or retain trips & shoppers efficiently in near term and long term
- Anything to help retailers with preparedness for future crises
Retailers realize this will be a long challenge and are very open to help and a collaborative, team approach; especially if recommendations and programs are tailored to their unique situation and needs.
“We have not seen any insights relating what to do moving forward. We can learn valuable lessons.”
“We are completely open to any support and any strategies, insight, and workable initiatives.”
“I don’t even know what my unmet needs are regarding this crisis. I know we’re going to learn a lot and we’re looking forward to it from suppliers, brokers and consultants.”
Retailers provided us with their suggested do’s and don’ts for manufacturers and vendors:
- Empathy not sympathy
- Strategy with insights and support on recovery
- Immediate help with program support, community support or funding to help allay fears, improve safety and lure back shoppers
- Information and education on employee and shopper safety
“Talk to us with solutions in mind and firm future plans that will help all of us. Weigh our concern over your brand. Help us make right plan and address issues with solutions.”
- Pry with questions retailers can’t answer
- Make promises you can’t deliver
- Offer ideas to capitalize on or profit from crisis
- Describe opportunities without actionable insights or support
“Don't call with useless info or emails (we've had plenty), especially without solutions.”
There’s a refreshing level of honesty about initial crisis and the confusion at retail and HQ that ensued.
• Retailers realize that OOS were not the cause of the problem, but rather a symptom.
• Nobody is casting blame or pointing fingers.
• Retailers acknowledge own unpreparedness, indecision and delayed reactions.
In this spirit, retailers are receptive to a collaborative, team approach to tackle problems with solutions.
• Appreciate the can-do attitude and unconditional support they have received so far
• Appreciate the selfless dedication of associates
• Look forward to a team approach to recovery
“Even with shortage of products, fear, and health concerns, I must give our associates at store level praise during this difficult time.”
“Recovery will be a tall order... need help from every part of the industry. We can’t do this alone.”
IMPLICATION: Consider taking a collaborative, in some cases, industry-wide approach open to leveraging industry associations for insights, strategy and solutions as manufacturers and their retail partners journey forward to navigate uncertainty together.
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