How to Take Advantage of Post-Pandemic Retailing
There is no doubt that Covid-19 caused untold personal hardships and economic damage around the world. It is also true that recovery from the pandemic has created incredible opportunities for all brands – and that the time to shift focus is now.
Closures of physical stores over the past year forced consumers to shift their buying habits. People who were previously only comfortable with brick-and-mortar retail had to dive into the e-commerce waters for all categories of products and services, from food to footwear to furniture. Due to improved web interfaces, payment platforms, and physical logistics, these shoppers became increasingly comfortable with online purchasing from trusted retailers – and, more importantly, directly from preferred brands. This change will be permanent. And that’s great news for you.
You now have the ability to build an exponentially closer relationship with your customers. You can use your website to tell your brand story in a way you never could when it was mediated through third-party retailers and their sales associates. Even better, with each customer visit, you’ll learn more than you ever could before about your customers. The direct contact with shoppers will give you unparalleled insight into their preferences.
With this insight, you can begin to develop a product customization program that will grow your business. Virtual merchandizing (aka web-based product design) is fast, cheap, and easy – enabling you to get direct feedback on new styles, colors, and products. And when you find a winner, you can quickly go into production. However, if your supply chain isn’t nimble enough to do this yet, a product customization strategy is your route to developing this critical new capability. A flexible supply chain that enables your designers to quickly and easily test new ideas in the market without making huge inventory purchases is a powerful, competitive advantage.
Before Covid, you were largely committed to full containers of product ordered 12-18 months in advance from Asia – the traditional business model of “making and selling.” Now? You can affordably order 50 or 100 units one month out (and sometimes even faster) – the new business model of “design, sell, and then make.” As both marketing tool and market expansion tool, a smart product customization program gives you flexibility that you never had before.
The pandemic has made us rethink our lives. Now is the time to rethink your business as well. Product customization and flexible supply chains are here to stay and direct-to-consumer is your most effective way of engaging customers in the post-Covid world. Your customers have changed. You can – you should – too.