Retail is starting to open up throughout the U.S. and one industry insider has outlined the moves he believes all stores and brands need to make.
In a blog post today, The NPD Group senior sports industry adviser Matt Powell explained the most important thing is cash generation and preservation. “This must be the primary concentration,” he said in the post.
During this period, brands including Brooks have kept this front of mind.
“Phase one is going to be tough so it’s about managing cash and working with each other, vendors and landlords and accounts, to do what we can to delay requirements in cash because everybody needs to survive the best we can in this period,” Brooks CEO Jim Weber told FN in late March.
The next most important area of concentration, Powell said, is brand equity. “When making any decision during this crisis, the first question must always be, ‘Is it right for the brand?’ If the answer is ‘no,’ then move on,” he wrote.
The NPD insider also addressed brand purpose and explained that now is the time when brands and retailers can put their purpose into action.
“It’s critical for brands and retailers to show empathy, both for their employees and customers,” Powell wrote. “Every effort must be made to keep your staff safe and healthy, and help out if they fall ill. On the other hand, this pandemic also presents a time to build a stronger relationship with your customers.”
Powell said empathetic marketing, such as making donations and loyalty programs, are effective and “customers will remember what you did for them during the crisis.”
Also, e-commerce should be a greater focus. Powell explained how brands and retailers should think “digital first” and that online stores have been a “lifeline for many brands and retailers.”
“I believe we can expect consumers to continue moving online as we ease our way out of the crisis,” he said.
Speaking with FN on May 4, Foot Locker president and CEO Dick Johnson said this time has helped him and his team realize the potential of its digital business and customer engagement platforms.
“One thing we certainly learned is the power of our digital business. We always knew that it was a strong tool, but it was sometimes in our network was a little bit overwhelmed by our brick and mortar presence,” Johnson told FN. “Now that we’ve had only digital to focus on, I think our team is honed their skills and gotten even better at the digital communication in how we work with our customers to engage with them digitally and ultimately sell them product. I think it’s probably strengthened us as an omnichannel retailer. And I think that’s something that will benefit us for a long time.”
In the blog post, Powell also encouraged stores to address the oversaturated brick-and-mortar landscape and for retailers to “confront their obsolete retail fleet,” to be mindful that “markdown proof” or “season-less” items can be viewed as boring and undesirable and to seize this opportunity to reinvent your business.