To put it gently, these past few months have been trying. From the constant uncertainty and ever-changing guidelines, it’s tough to keep up with all the adjustments—but here we are, in September, with what seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel. Retailers overcame a series of trials and tribulations that, at times, seemed impossible.
Through adjusting stores hours, modifying inventory space and altering staff schedules, in addition to beefing up online presence and refining alternative pick-up options, brick-and-mortar businesses overcome the odds (as always), and picked up some valuable lessons along the way. In order to keep the innovation up and businesses modern, here’s what retailers can keep doing to ensure their long-term success.
It’s no secret that the worldwide pandemic and ensuing nationwide shut down in the U.S. threw a wrench into everyone’s routines, leaving folks with more questions than answers. Business owners struggled to quickly overcome hurdle after hurdle in order to keep themselves afloat, ultimately adapting and setting themselves up to be better prepared for whatever the future may hold.
You don’t need me to remind you of all the doom and gloom that surrounded the traditional retail space before everything went south: e-commerce conglomerates were quickly muscling their way into, and disrupting, the consumer goods space. Numerous financial advisors and economists were predicting brick-and-mortar’s downfall, but in a way, the pandemic actually gave retailers the push they needed to refine and strengthen their business models for years to come.
If we learned one thing, it's that the future is impossible to predict. Business owners rushed to implement flexible buying options (more on that below), innovative their retail spaces and, thanks to some new government mandates, are now keeping their stores cleaner than ever and taking precautions to ensure all customers in stores feel safe while shopping.
Perhaps there’s been no quicker evolution than that of brick-and-mortar businesses in the past few months. Major changes were needed for some time now, and the pandemic gave everyone the push they needed to start innovating. Across the board, almost all pet retailers implemented some form of buy online, pick-up in store option, and even created (or expanded) their online ordering and delivering services, putting them in the perfect position to give Chewy and Amazon a run for their money.
Additionally, as traditional marketing (signage in stores, flyers, posters) lost some of their usefulness by the lack of eyes that were on them, retailers vamped up their social media campaigns, in terms of presence on social networking sites to provide up-to-date, constant communications and updates, as well as newsletters and other types of e-blasts.
If you haven’t taken the time to reflect on your pandemic efforts so far, do it now. Listen: you’ve kept your business afloat and did everything possible to provide for your families, as well as your employees and their families. That’s impressive. It’s easy to get disheartened with current events and, despite how good things may seem, a lot of brick-and-mortar businesses are shuttering left and right.
For those that fought tooth and nail to keep their businesses profitable, it’s that resiliency that’s come to define the pet industry, and that’s something to be proud of. Keep being ready for anything this world throws at you, and be prepared to change course at a moment’s notice—you’ve made it this far, and there's no doubt you’ll keep going.