Stanley Street’s group business director for the Shopper team, Fiona Kerr, is impressed with the way retailers around the world are responding to the challenge of Covid-19.
There are few times in life you get to say “I was there”.
I was there for the start, I saw it all unfold and I (most likely) will still be there at the end. A little shaken, a little stirred but still standing.
To be honest, I don’t recall the GFC. Perhaps I was a self absorbed 20-something who wasn’t invested (literally) in what happened financially, maybe I was just too naive as my life wasn’t radically affected by the fallout. At any rate, I got out of it unscathed. I’m not sure the experience will be the same this time around.
Social media has allowed us to connect globally faster than ever before so the amount of misinformation, panic, fake news and sheer information overload makes your head spin. But amongst the uncertainty and insane mob-mentality are some beautiful beacons of positivity.
I love the industry I work in. Retail is in my soul. I love the pace, the haphazard structure and processes, the constant change; But probably more accurately, I love that retail brings people together. The retail industry is often criticised for capitalising on certain misfortunes so I’d like to highlight some amazing things that retailers and brands are doing in response to this unprecedented global crisis:
- Extended opening / designated shopping hours for disadvantaged shoppers – Many retailers including Woolies and Coles in Australia have taken additional measures to ensure that older people and people with disabilities will be able to shoe in less crowded aisles during the pandemic. In response they have launched dedicated elderly shopping hours where shoppers with disadvantages will be granted exclusivity.
- Stock limits and restrictions – many retailers are implementing stock limitations to curb panic buying. Ensuring that supply doesn’t outstrip demand of key household items, leaving consumers vulnerable and frightened.
- Production shifts – LVMH the parent company of luxury brands like Christian Dior, Guerlain and Givenchy has stopped producing perfumes and has offered its production facilities to the French health authorities to instead manufacture sanitary products, specifically hand sanitiser, free of charge. This offer of production facilities come sin light of the widespread shortage of hand sanitisers gross the globe.
- Easy delivery – Just Salad (a chain of healthy food and salad bars) has waived both delivery fees and implemented contactless and tamperproof delivery processes when you order through their app or website.
- And Chipotle will offer free delivery from 15-31st March on any order of over $10 and deliveries will use a new tamper-proof packaging seal to ensure food is not touched during the delivery process. Coupled with it’s step-by-step delivery tracker, customers can follow their meals from the restaurant to their chosen locations with peace of mind.
- Store closures – LuluLemon has made the executive decision to close all of their stores in North America and Europe for a 2-week period to protect heir staff. Who will all be paid for the hours they were scheduled to work.
- Following suit, Sephora is closing all its US and Canada based stores from 17th March – 3rd April to protect well-being of both staff and customers. They are also waiving shipping fees via their website and mobile app during this period.
- Funding – Donatella Versace, Kering, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana and Bulgari (to name a few) have all either donated to organisations or are funding researchers dealing with the growing mental health projects or treatment / vaccine-development initiatives.
And while not retail related, some good news stories …
- Staying connected – On Wednesday 18th March, WhatsApp launched the WhatsApp Coronavirus Information Hub in partnership with the WHO, UNICEF and UNDP. The site offers general tips and resources for users around the world in attempt to reduce the spread of rumours and provide the public with accurate health information.
- Accessible content – Disney + has accelerated the released of both Frozen 2 and Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker on their streaming services, giving users early access to the content. Sure you still have to pay for the platform but they didn’t have to do anything either.
I haven’t captured nearly enough of the positive examples, gestures and initiatives underway currently. Businesses and brands are sending out communications hourly on how they aim to assist consumers, protect staff and do good for the communities they serve. I do know, that this crisis will fundamentally change humanity. It will change the way we view the world, how we behave, what we buy and what we demand from industries moving forward. We have been irrevocably altered by this global crisis. I hope that the good changes far outpace the bad as I’d like to recall this evolution as the one that I participated in and lived to tell the tale.
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