What does this mean for retailers and consumer products? Pay attention to what sets you apart. Think about your customer service and the overall brand experience you deliver. Understand what motivates a consumer and use technology that provides customer insights to establish a relationship that goes beyond the purchase.
Imagine the future
The pandemic has accelerated endless changes in the world. The good news for retailers and brands is that now is a perfect time to experiment with technology to create agility.
Be innovative. With brand eminence decreasing, once a consumer is engaged with your product, how will you keep their interest? How do you provide them the information they want to allow them to create their own experience with you? One solution would be to use a QR code so a consumer can scan for instant access about a product’s ingredients or material sourcing. This could influence their future purchasing decisions, create engagement and help increase loyalty.
If it’s harder to connect with consumers through traditional channels, it’s worth exploring new avenues, like the metaverse, to meet consumers where they are. Retailers know the importance of having an omnichannel strategy.
Now is the time to rethink the omnichannel as the “metachannel.” A metachannel strategy enables retailers to think about the physical and the online store from a holistic perspective. It integrates the two environments by using consumer data to increase engagement through unique, coordinated and blended experiences.
Technology offers endless ways to engage with consumers, which makes this an exciting time for retailers and brands.
Change demand planning for uncertainty
Luckily, product shortages are nowhere near the levels they were previously. We still face shortages due to a lack of raw materials. This starts a cycle of out-of-stocks, from finished goods to goods on shelves. These shorter demand cycles and ongoing disruptions mean the algorithms used for demand planning aren’t going to be good enough for future scenarios.
In the short term, the focus must be on the first mile not the last. This is where real-time data shines. The priority must shift to inputs such as global markets, availability of raw materials and energy costs. Here are a few key considerations for short-term solutions for retailers:
- Data is your friend. Creating forecasts based on prior sales history results in a disconnect between consumer wants and current inventory. Instead, tap into real-time data to create an accurate demand forecast based on current issues.
- Pre-orders is the new demand sensing. This prevents a retailer from having the wrong items in stock. First, see the consumer demand, then place an order once specific quantities are known. This is especially true for apparel.
- Less is more. Streamlining your inventory by narrowing the SKUs in a product portfolio can simplify your supply chain.
Consumers are learning to flex with uncertainty creating a constantly evolving consumer.