Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic: The Retail Collapse

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic: The Retail Collapse

Many retailers are self-employed small business owners with a single store from which they earn their livelihoods, they are unlikely to have business insurance to compensate them for any loss of sales and the declining turnover means stores are closing earlier than usual, inevitably many stores will shutter their doors permanently; wiping out thousands of jobs.

These are unprecedented times; some retailers have already shut their doors doing their part to contain the spread of the virus. Meanwhile others have elected to remain open as there is (in some places) no government mandate to close. It is understandable some retailers will continue as long as possible in an attempt to save their businesses, cover expenses and save jobs. For those stores still open, it would be prudent for them to sanitize those high trafficked areas as door handles, counter tops, credit card machines, shopping baskets and carts etc. several times daily, to ensure the safety of their customers and employees.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic

Retailers if they have not yet done so should activate their disaster management plan or get one in place if they have none. The importance of having a disaster management plan is so you can prepare before a disaster, know which steps to take during a disaster and ensure business continues after a disaster.  

Now that there is a crisis, what retailers can do is:

  1. Communicate with their stakeholders as it relates to the steps they are taking to protect them and their team.
  2. They can shift sales to their e-commerce website.
  3. They can shift customer service to their online channels such as their website, mobile and social media platforms.
  4. They can reduce (or extend) their opening hours to facilitate deliveries and store pickups exclusively.
  5. They can advise their customers there will be no browsing in their stores to prevent further risks. They can ask customers to browse online, make purchases there and arrange delivery or store pick up.
  6. They should try to minimize the event of too many customers in their store in order to prevent overcrowding. Therefore, they can give customers appointments for store pickups or have them wait outside in line for service.

Running any business without social media or a website in this digital age is defeating the objective of being in business. Globalization has brought us so many advances such as increased communication, technology and e-commerce. Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has brought us all challenges and with shoppers running scared, being unable to shop in store, your communication should point them to your online, mobile and social channels. In this way, business operations will continue.

In a market with a fully developed e-commerce structure, retailers should take advantage of the opportunities created by Coronavirus (COVID-19) and leverage technology to their advantage.

For those retailers without adequate e-channels, it is not too late to scramble, you can consult with a business consultant to look at ways you can move forward to salvage your business, such as leveraging social media, WhatsApp and mobile payment among other technology enabled options to continue your business operations. If all this seems too much for you, connect with us. Let us help you move forward.

Retailers are advised to look at their business continuity plan for ways they can continue to evolve in their business, and also keep in mind that during times of crisis the “scam business” becomes more profitable and so be prudent and protect themselves and their customers. Who knows what other challenges await us, what is certain is that we are heading into a technology enabled future. Join us in social media, we’re on Twitter.