10 Lessons Retailers Have Learned from COVID-19

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By Published On: June 24, 20200 Comments

With every change that is thrown our way, there are lessons to be learned along the way. We asked a series of retail experts to discuss the lessons they've learned as a result of COVID-19.

The pandemic has thrown the world on its head and has changed the way we see retail forever. Here are a few lessons that retailers have learned along the way.

    1. The Importance of a Local Supply Chain

      “Consider sourcing multiple suppliers, who have varied production and delivery schedules. Retailers should be speaking with their suppliers to get assurance their suppliers have a plan in place for operations should conditions worsen. Retailers need to have regular and transparent communication with their suppliers. Therefore, strong relationships with suppliers are vital. If your business is facing cash flow issues, your suppliers may be able to support you and be flexible. For instance, they may alter their payment terms and allow you to change stock order quotas,” said Jessica Ip, Chief Transformation Officer at CouriersPlease.

    2. Innovative Delivery Ideas

      “To maintain social distancing, all courier companies should have by now trained their drivers to make contactless deliveries. Some parcel delivery providers will take a photo of the delivered package, others will sign on the customer’s behalf, and others will take the name of the recipient who accepts the parcel,” said Jessica Ip, the Chief Transformation Officer at CouriersPlease.

      “Consumers are becoming increasingly discerning in all aspects of the online shopping experience, not only comparing products between merchants but in critiquing the delivery and returns options offered too,” said Justin Dery, the CEO of Doddle APAC

    3. Experiences are More Important than Ever

      “Unfortunately customer service training has been put on the back burner for many years in Australia but due to the change in “consumerism” during COVID they have realised that customer experience was needed,” said Justin Herald, the Founder and CEO of Customer Culture.

    4. It’s Time to Utilise Local Talent

      “With an abundance of incredibly skilled workers in Australia, now is the time for leaders to step up and utilise our local talent,” said Terri Vinson, Cosmetic Chemist & Founder of Synergie Skin.

    5. Don’t Underestimate Your Customer

      “The pandemic has pushed both consumers to become more experienced with e-commerce and retailers to fast-track their digital transformation. However, building a digital presence requires more than just installing an e-commerce plugin on an existing website,” said Adam Bird, General Manager of NSW at KJR.

    6. Cyber Security is Vital

      “[Retailers] need to ensure that the platform they build is safe and secure. Security, especially payment card information and data compliance, should be on top of mind while going digital, as it will reduce the likelihood of future cyber-attacks,” said Adam Bird, General Manager of NSW at KJR.

    7. Customer Expectations and Behaviours Can Change Rapidly

      “We learnt that more people bought skincare, and fewer people bought makeup because they were at home,” said Kiri Yanchenko, Founder of skincare brand, Amperna. “We learnt to pivot and launch services that our customers needed at the time.”

    8. Staff Training is Essential

      “The main thing we have seen during COVID is the amount of retail business realising that staff training had to be a priority,” said Justin Herald, the CEO of Customer Culture.

    9. Expect the Unexpected

      “Our sales volumes increased by 300 percent for two months. So a lot of items went out of stock a lot sooner than expected. It ended up being a large spike in profit, but also a big headache with customers wanting items that had already run out of stock. To avoid the issue going forward, we’d have to hold more stock than previously, but now that volumes are returning to normal, it doesn’t really make sense to do so,” said Daniel Brady.

    10. Don’t Be Afraid to Pivot

      “During COVID, we noticed that Australians were searching for ways to support small and local businesses – so we started another online store called iLoveAustralian. I think that our biggest learning in COVID is to act fast, and don’t be afraid to try something new. COVID has enabled us to take risks we wouldn’t otherwise take,” said Laura Conti, Founder of #GoKindly and ILoveAustralian.

The pandemic has changed the world we all live in and spun it on its head. However, without the unprecedented changes we’ve all experienced, these lessons may have taken longer to learn.

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