Post Covid Retail – The Route Back ?

The Route Back

The retail industry is transitioning through a re-adjustment period and this will continue for the foreseeable future.  As a team we have reflected on the 3 questions that most CEO’s will have been discussing within the boardroom.

  • How do we survive?
  • How do we reposition?
  • How do we stabilise and grow?


  • Are you being brave, innovative and strategic in your planning?  This is not a time for mediocracy.
  • Protecting cashflow is critical; Turning the tap off to all debtors is the last resort, prioritising who remains critical to the operation and who you need to continue to partner with is paramount.
  • Do you have a trusted brand? Trust is key, do your customers trust you?  Are you keeping customers in mind at every decision point, it’s about their safety now, not just a sale.  Are you getting positive reinforcement through customer insight?
  • Safety first, protecting your people, your customers and the broader public is a mark of our professionalism and builds trust or erodes it.
  • Consistency in execution is vital, no second chances for safety, only if the protocols are fully understood can our people engage with relaxed customers.
  • Over communication – Do we keep talking to the team and are they fully engaged? Good swimmers leave the vessel first, are yours looking to stay or go!
  • Where do we want to be – Have we built a working vision of shops, office requirements, online channels and modelled the outputs?


  • Timing is everything, can you evolve your business model to retain loyal customers and win new ones?
  • Your operation has had an opportunity to improve or deteriorate against competitors, customers are seeing this and re-calibrating who they trust and where they want to spend, this opens up opportunities in market share and potential M & A.
  • Managing availability is critical at this stage; system algorithms will be corrupt and customer geographic shopping preferences will have shifted.
  • As the business world has mostly suffered, opportunities exist for left field collaborations to reduce cost, increase presence and diversify offers, a senior team member should be investigating this for problem resolution and opportunities. Think Aldi and McDonalds would have been together had it not been for Covid?
  • Operating structures need simplifying to make decision making less bureaucratic and swifter, the simpler the structure the less likely to stall. Ensure the cognitive diversity is retained throughout, don’t just keep the yes people.
  • Supply chains will be experiencing significant distraction for years, make sure yours is diverse enough not to stall growth when the inevitable occurs. A focus on shorter lead times and an ability to react fast to spikes and dips is a priority.

Stabilising and Growing

Agility will be key; the only constant over the next 12-18 months is uncertainty, those businesses who are able to adapt quickly are most likely to survive and prosper. Over the coming weeks, we will be releasing a series of 5 minute ‘quick read’ interviews conducted with the team that consider what retailers will need to address to stabilise and grow.  They will focus on;

  • Business simplification – Removing the complexity, bureaucracy and legacy constraints within the business
  • Delivering great execution – How do we drive personality, trust and compassion through our execution
  • Making a fixed cost impact
  • Cognitive Diversity – Making sure you have the right people, not just the yes people
  • Rightsizing the channel mix – Channel growth and retraction
  • Streamlining the supply chain
  • Retendering – tendering with pace
  • Creating a seamless transition between channels
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