However, the shift to e-commerce, in such short period of time, found many consumers, as well as retail and distribution channels, unprepared, leading to concerns, especially with regard to delays and high delivery costs. Meanwhile, many consumers still see comparative advantages in physical stores.
Online shopping is now part of our daily lives, as is wider reliance on online services, creating a huge wealth of valuable new consumer data.
In order not to reverse this trend in the long run, the reservations and concerns of consumers must be addressed, along with the various shortcomings of the online channel, so that consumers can enjoy the benefits of a smooth and fast delivery at home.
EY’s recommendations for the retail and consumer goods industry
The profound changes recorded in our survey cover the whole range of Greeks’ everyday lives and, more specifically, their consumer habits: How and where they shop, what they buy, how they consume it, what worries them, what expectations they have from brands and how they imagine the day after the pandemic.
As is always the case with changes triggered by an unexpected external shock, it is difficult to predict which will persist in the long-term, which will gradually fade away, and which may actually intensify. Our experiences at an international, regional and local level, however, show that changes of this magnitude and duration are seldom completely reversed, restoring consumers to their former state.
Businesses in the retail and consumer products industries that want to stand out and thrive, maintain and expand their customer base, and strengthen their connection to consumers in the post-pandemic era, must carefully analyze and study the changes that are taking place and adapt accordingly, developing new capabilities. In reality, they need to redesign their market and consumer approach.
► At an initial stage, companies should immediately map their market and consumers, as everything appears to have changed.
► Based on the new conditions, companies need to re-categorize their product portfolio, customers and end consumers.
► Next, they should relate their product portfolio to customer segments and ask themselves whether they still need (and if they can afford) to make all their products available on all channels, or even to all customers.
► At the same time, a detailed re-evaluation of different service models will be required, such as direct-to-consumer, direct-to-customer, omni-channel, and pick up, as well as combinations of all these.
► New market conditions create new opportunities, as well as the need to explore synergies with other companies. Therefore, a change in business culture will be necessary. “Co-opetition” is now replacing “competition”.
► In the same spirit, the creation and / or participation in value chain ecosystems, rather than relying on linear value chains, and a "I can do everything on my own" mindset, will ensure and enhance business resilience.
► Another basic condition for strengthening companies’ competitive advantages is ensuring end-to-end visibility for the entire value chain, by establishing control towers. After all, brand owners can bring real value to their brands only when they have full visibility.
At some point in the foreseeable future, the pandemic crisis will de-escalate. However, the disruption it has caused, will continue to affect the daily lives of consumers, for a long time to come. It is extremely important for businesses to be able to constantly monitor and quickly decipher these changes, and be even quicker in redefining their operating model. Those that do so successfully, will thrive and stand out the day after.