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Maintaining Retail Sales Amidst the Covid-19 Pandemic

The border control policies adopted by the government to mitigate the Covid-19 pandemic are increasingly being limited. Previously, several countries were prohibited from entering Singapore as short-term visitors. Now, all short-term visitors from all countries are not permitted. This is indeed a good step to reduce imported cases. However, it affects retailers even worse; they are now on their knees.

According to R Dhinakaran, The President of the Singapore Retailers Association, some retailers were only impacted by 30%, while other retailers fell by 90-100% as of early March. This is the worst hit in the retail sector since 2003. The uncertainty of the outbreak has made people cautious in spending their money, and as a result, retail sales plummeted.

Even though the government has spent at least four billion dollars to help retailers affected by the Coronavirus, it’s worth trying to keep businesses going and optimize sales. In this article, we’ve put together five strategies you can implement as a retailer to survive sales during the pandemic.

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Optimizing Online Sales

Social distancing makes people look for alternatives to get groceries or basic necessities without having to roam in public spaces. In China, there was a surge in online sales during the early and peak phases of the outbreak. It is now recommended for brick-and-mortar retailers to shift sales to online platforms.

This shift may significantly offset the losses you incur in your offline store. Furthermore, experts predict that this pandemic can permanently change consumer behavior.

The first thing to do is make sure that customers know that their favorite store has an online version, and you should encourage them to use it. You can use the bulk mail feature in Marketing Automation System to announce and promote your online store. Then, you can measure how effective your campaign is.

Don’t forget to prepare a strategy if your online sales falter. Some of your employees may request sick leave due to these unfavorable conditions, so you should schedule many business operations plans as soon as possible.

Encourage Promotional Programs

This is the most straightforward strategy that many business people can think of and implement to keep running their businesses during this pandemic. However, specifically speaking of retailers, they could do it more vigorously.

There are many promotional programs that you can use, such as discounts, free shipping, more extended return periods, free products, and others.

You can create more attractive and personalized programs using a CRM-Leads or Membership system. You can attract more customers by customizing them based on their preferences or purchase history.

Since the end of this pandemic is not in sight, you may apply this strategy longer and “crazier.” So, make sure you control your margin effectively to optimize your profit.

Also Read: 6 Retail Industry Trends in 2022 That You Should Know

Focus On Top-Selling Products

Please be careful that this point does not apply to retailers who sell items that are most needed now, such as masks, hand sanitizer, or other hygiene supplies. Retailers must control the purchase and price of these items to prevent hoarding.

This strategy will apply to retailers who manufacture their own goods. With this supply chain flow disruption both locally and abroad, you must be very careful in the production system.

To stay efficient, you can increase production and sales of best-selling products to save on overall costs. So, optimal sales will most likely cover raw materials’ scarcity and soaring prices. You can use retail software to monitor your products with the most customers.

Negotiating With Your Suppliers and Vendors

As noted above, retailers must grapple with low stock and skyrocketing prices. Less workforce, difficulty optimizing inventory, and forecasting challenges worsen your sales.

You can start talking to your vendors and suppliers to reduce this burden. Reassure them that the most crucial thing in procurement is not traditional purchase negotiations but ensuring that continuity of supply is provided. You can ask for looser payment terms or other temporary policy changes. You can continue fighting for a GTO lease if your landlord still sticks with the rental price.

Get Ready For Recovery

retail recovered in China after SARS
Source: The Asean Post

The graph above shows retail dynamics in China during the SARS outbreak nearly two decades ago. Sales of medicines, food, and house cleaning increased sharply due to panic buying. Meanwhile, cosmetics, apparel, and liquor fell.

Panic buying causes specific categories to be prone to hoarding. Meanwhile, as the outbreak ended, demand for items such as apparel increased. As a result, retailers cannot meet demand due to insufficient stock.

Therefore, you must create the most adaptive business strategy that suits your business to prevent such chaos. Once the outbreak has subsided, ensure you return to your usual automatic reordering and adjust prices and shipping accordingly.

Also Read: How To Reduce Operating Costs in Your Retail Business

Conclusion

The Covid-19 pandemic has not brought retail to a complete standstill because people depend on it. However, it was inevitable that the plague caused disturbances.

The five points above can be your reference for optimizing sales in uncertainty. Don’t forget to track and record your sales during this critical time so you can have a prediction if a similar situation occurs.

Last but not least, don’t risk the health and safety of your employees. They are the ones that keep your business running and vulnerable to infection at the same time.

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