The global pandemic has caused people to panic and stock up essential materials like toilet paper, soap and canned food. Staying in a queue to enter the supermarket has become the new normal and receiving a delivery order with at least two weeks lead time, too. Additionally, COVID-19 related measures taken by governments forced discretionary stores to close, a never-before-seen crisis for retailers.

The newly established order of life is causing a spike in online shopping, accelerating structural changes in consumer spending, with grocery shopping being at the forefront. As most people work from home and take care of their kids, online grocery shopping has become the go-to option. Furthermore, restaurants are experiencing declining orders in the magnitude of up to 50% in their takeaway services meaning that more meals are being prepared at home.

To meet the current demand for nondiscretionary goods, retailers are facing multiple obstacles:

  • Shortage of staff
  • Ensuring availability of vital products
  • Providing products to consumers
  • Keeping employees healthy
  • Surviving short-term and long-term (post-crisis)

Mitigating the first obstacle of additional staff members, retailers are on a hiring spree to acquire enough workforce. However, current IT and Admin staff might experience issues accommodating all those new system entries. To ease the burden on staff, the easiest solution might be hiring additional workforce either as full-time employees or on-demand services. Yet, management must also consider the long-term effects of retaining the enlarged labour pool. In times of crisis, businesses should even more than ever consider some form of partnership. Benefits from such collaboration include:

  • No urge to take unpaid or compelled annual leave
  • No need for training employees as they already have the experience in similar positions
  • You can return to business as usual after the coronavirus crisis
  • Mitigating salary expenses for both parties

In order to prevent further shrinkage to their market share, retailers will have to also hire additional IT capacity to improve current technological assets. Hiring new employees, particularly in large quantities is challenging since it involves a usually lengthy induction process, which in the current uncertain climate, is not the most optimal solution.

Brightive can assist retailers in need of expanding their IT capacities and training new staff through our Remote Programme Management – an integrated tooling package to enable rapid start-up and control services to new programme initiatives. We provide on-demand remote IT consultancy specifically aimed at dealing with this type of issues and the induction period is only days. Additionally, we can help with reducing clutter in business processes through our BPMN services.

If you want to learn more about how to integrate workforce’s data you can contact us at [email protected], we are also participating in an International Crisis Consortium of companies who offer a wide range of solutions for the current COVID-19 situation.

Ensuring the availability of vital products, it is a rather straight-forward response – reduce product variety to only essential items with fewer options to:

  • Еase traffic load
  • Еstablish daily meetings with strategic suppliers to have greater transparency what is available, what can be delivered and in what time span
  • Modify algorithms for inventory replenishment and allocation

Additionally, when limiting the variety of items, certain marketing efforts will have to be cancelled and those resources can be utilised in departments with more urgent need. The most important consideration that needs to be made is keeping employees safe and healthy. To do so, employers should take additional steps in ensuring that working conditions allow for the least possible contact and facilitate low COVID-19 transmission. To reduce store traffic, an already suggested option by McKinsey would be converting some outlets to “dark stores” where workers only pick-up and package things, thus mitigating the risk of contact with customers.

A second option which we brainstormed and developed as a solution to the current coronavirus crisis is a ‘drive-thru’ model for supermarkets. We have expanded on this idea through our BPMN services in order to visualise and developed a model to reduce employee contact and provide the feeling of security. Our findings are that under ‘drive-thru’ supermarket model personal contact is reduced by 99%.

If you want to discuss more about our model, please contact us at [email protected].