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Retailers Are Moving Fast

With jobless claims spiking to 3.3 M last week and more states moving to “Stay at Home”, Covid-19 continues to wreak havoc across the U.S.   Many retailers have displayed agility and innovation to quickly implement new tactics to keep business going as well as contribute to the broader community response.  As a follow-up to our list last week, today we bring you the top positive actions we’ve observed from our industry to serve both customers and employees:

  1. Pitching in – retailers and brands like Gap, Neiman Marcus, Jo-Ann Stores, Canada Goose and many others, are shifting capabilities to help the front lines of health care workers by making masks and other protective apparel such as scrubs and gowns. CD One Price cleaners is providing free laundry services for first responders and health care workers and Starbucks will provide free coffee for this group through May 3.
  2. Upscaling our videoconferences – West Elm, Behr paints and others are offering free virtual backgrounds for Zoom conference calls – helping us all to look more professional while working from home.
  3. New channels to serve the customer – companies are rapidly pivoting to serve customers at home. Farmer’s Fridge provides fresh and healthy food to consumers through automated vending machines located in convenient locations throughout major markets in the U.S.  Over the weekend Farmers Fridge implemented a home delivery program to provide products to customers unable to get to a vending machine due to shelter in place requirements.
  4. Profit sharing with staff – our most popular Instagram post this month featured the take-out meals offered by Chicago’s Michelin 3-Star restaurant, Alinea. The wildly popular program has allowed the restaurant to hire back staff with the intention of sharing profits evenly among them with ownership forgoing salary.
  5. Virtual events – from Chipotle to Nike, retailers and brands are providing activities to enhance engagement with isolated customers. Chipotle is offering daily Zoom calls to hangout with celebrities.  Nike is offering free membership in the premium level of Nike Training Club.  This app offers virtual workouts for strength training, cardio, and yoga and is aligned with the “Play Inside and Play for the World” ad campaign. Michael’s Stores has a Face Book live craft event weekly for shoppers using curbside pickup.
  6. Stocking up…on cash – retailers are closely scrutinizing cash requirements to ensure they can fund on-going operations through this uncertain period. Many large retailers accessed credit facilities in the last week to borrow including L. Brands, JCPenney and Ascena.
  7. Helping with customer payments – auto companies like Hyundai, are covering up to 6 months of lease payments for customers that have lost their jobs due to Covid. Companies such as Mariano’s (Kroger) and Door Dash are waiving pickup or delivery fees.
  8. Accepting new payment types – to make it as easy as possible to pay, retailers are expanding on-line and mobile payment options. Starbucks will be accepting Bakkt cryptocurrency on the mobile app.
  9. Offering premium solutions for high end customers – luxury sales are projected to decline significantly in the coming months. Companies in this segment are focusing on their top customers with personalized offerings and exclusive events.  The Dorsett hotel chain is offering 14-day and 27-day Quarantine packages at their luxury hotels that include medical care and food delivery.
  10. Cross retailer co-operation – this trend, noted last week in Europe, is now here in the U.S. where companies are working together to address key challenges like workforce stability. Albertson’s announced a partnership with 17 other companies where they will hire furloughed workers to fill part-time roles in busy Albertson’s stores and distribution facilities.

We believe this is just the beginning. Creativity and innovation will be the hallmarks of companies who can successfully navigate this crisis.

Please send any tactics that should have a spot on our list to info@mdretail.com.

Mara Devitt

Mara Devitt

mdevitt@mdretail.com

Mara Devitt specializes in developing customer focused marketing and merchandising strategies and tactics that drive sales and profits for her clients. Her approach is grounded in a structured method for operating model development to ensure that recommendations made to clients are achievable, repeatable and the benefits can be sustained over time.

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