Coronavirus has dominated headlines for months now, and the impact it has had on businesses across different sectors has been devastating. The wider impact on the retail sector has been widely discussed across the country. Moreover, the ongoing debate around mass unemployment, workforce crunch, rents, and uncertain future for many businesses has worsened the situation.
Along with an unusual human toll, the coronavirus pandemic has triggered a deep economic threat. The crisis caused by the virus is no more a looming threat for retailers but a harsh reality. It has caused disruptions at every stage right from the manufacturing to the transit timelines of the freight forwarders. The retailers struggling to meet the needs of both their workers and customers is now a common scenario in countries across the globe.
The Impact on the Retail Sector
For many businesses depending on imports, the trouble began as early as January 2020 when the situation started to get worse in China. With the entire supply chain out of order followed by a prolonged lockdown that restricted the movement of non-essential commodities, even the stock that is ready with the retailers is not available for sale. March is the month of financial year closing and typically a period when many companies close higher numbers than usual, but everything got washed off this time.
According to the latest information on retail, the business has dropped by 20-25% by the end of February itself when the coronavirus panic just broke out in India. Talking about the revival, many businesses in the retail sector will perhaps take the longest time to recuperate to its full strength. Due to the widespread fear of catching the infection, many will avoid walking to the stores to buy products. However, e-commerce will be back on its feet much faster and may even see higher growth.
Planning the Comeback with Physical Space Alterations
The businesses, in their fight against the pandemic with great commitment and vigor, are in full swing with their initiatives to ensure a safe environment for people around. Ensuring a high level of hygiene will become a key criterion for cards for everyone. Ramping up hygiene protocol, regular sanitisation of premises and also, sanitising the hands of every member entering the premises is inevitable. Some important measures include demarcated standing areas at entry and exit points, lifts, and restrictions on the movement of members between floors. Also, big retailers might need to ensure the compliance of members with shift-based or rotational work systems. They may also need to come up with a new regulatory framework.
The usually uncouth public is surprisingly compliant now. People are wearing masks and keeping each other at a distance for good measure. Everybody is well aware they face a dire threat. Businesses, big or small, would need to re-plan their outlets, ensuring that interactions do not result in infection.
Preparedness and Resilience
Survivalists know the significance of two key traits: preparedness and resilience. Levels of preparedness and resilience will play a key role in determining a given organisation’s path out of the crisis and its workforce implications. Smart firms are keeping an eye on ways to return, as well as, opportunities for deeper restructuring to reinvent the business. It is clear that early adopters of digital tools are in better shape than others to face the challenges imposed by the coronavirus and prolonged lockdown.
The global pandemic is a catalyst for change and many firms' response to the pandemic has birthed unprecedented cross-industry collaboration. There have been outpourings of empathy and action to address the crisis. Digital skills, innovation, design thinking, and entrepreneurship will be crucial skills post-pandemic. The major challenge will be to sustain the hastily constructed infrastructure that fosters true ingenuity. Maintaining the momentum for change that the crisis has brought is a chance to focus on the skills that enable us to build back better.
Summing It All Up
Risk management, agility, and flexible working will now be an inevitable part of an organisation's decision making, especially when firms chalk out their business continuity plans (BCP). While the majority of firms will look forward to enhancing their Emergency Response Teams for future situations, chances are they will plan to create diversity in geographies and supply chains, increasing the opportunity for yielding returns. Expanding operations across geographies might work well for the retail sector.