The COVID-19 pandemic has showcased how a virus can bring economies across the world to a standstill. For much of the working population, it is for the first time that they are facing a crisis of this magnitude. As of right now, the business owners in the retail and F&B sector are working their hardest to stay afloat.

During my career, I have been through the 2008 financial crisis and the dotcom bubble burst of the late 1990s. But none of them had a direct impact on the retail and F&B industry as the COVID-19 crisis has and will continue to impact in the near future.

While grocery and essential services seem protected, the same cannot be said for other verticals such as clothing, restaurants, cafes, luxury accessories and the like.

Through this blog, I aim to share my learnings from my experience enabling brands to keep themselves protected and continue making progress in these hard times.

#1 Start allocating more of your marketing budget to online marketing and less on print media. With many people across India opting to not receive newspapers and spending more time on social media and other digital channels. It is the best time for you to leverage the power of online marketing. In case you have never done online marketing, this is the best time for you to conduct a dipstick study and see how it works out for you

#2 Most of the retail and F&B brands don’t have a website. Even if they do, it is not customer friendly. This is the best time for you to get one created or improve your old one. Since design and development of a website as a task can be done remotely, you can use this time to create a digital real estate for yourself that you can leverage to pull in sales and to make your brand digitally crisis-proof for the future. Also, consider investing in technologies to help you understand customer lifecycles, deliver better customer experience and personally engage using digital technologies.

#3 Use the time available to study past customer behavior data such as the channels they use to buy from your brand, the breaking points where the customers drop-off and unnecessary processes that can be either removed or optimised. For instance, you can start by identifying the channels which generate the highest ROI and those which have the potential to generate more sales. But due to some reason they are not optimised completely, find the reason, correct it, and keep the process test ready for when the lockdown is over to reiterate and make necessary improvements faster.

#4 Your competitors are evolving fast, You should too. As soon as the lockdown gets over, they will try and pounce upon your brand customers with discounts and freebies. Your aim should be simple “Retain the top 30% of the customers who contribute 70%-80% towards your sales goal”. And the best way is to provide exceptional customer services as soon as the lockdown gets over and also to keep on communicating with them during the lockdown through digital channels.

#5 Physical stores will open soon, but don’t expect the same kind of walk-ins initially. You need to get in alignment with your operations team to deliver a seamless customer experience. At the same time, discussing a new digital strategy with your marketing head to make your online presence better will ensure that you stay ahead of the curve in comparison to your competitors.

Brand owners need to constantly evolve and improvise their strategies to ensure preparedness when things go back to normal. As predicting and coming up with strong solutions in these day-to-day evolving situations will lead to further confusion. The best bet is to try and improve everything while keeping an open mind. As no one knows for sure how things might turn out.

I hope this blog helped you in getting a bit of clarity on how you can better plan for the future starting now. If you think this helps or if you need any other info please do reach out. We shall be glad to help. 

Take Care, Be Safe and Stay Positive.