Brands and retailers during the past month began taking unusual measures to keep in sync with consumers to determine their expectations. COVID-19 has become the catalyst to digital and social impacts on innovations. It begins with their product supply chains.
Calling COVID-19 “a complex puzzle,” Pedro Paiva, EMEA operations director at Havaianas, said the company is working on ways to engage with consumers via social channels, as well as mitigate risk in its product supply chain by recalculating demand that will eventually impact other industries such as advertising and marketing.
“We expect to lose between 30% and 50% of sales this year,” he said, during an online Eyefortransport (EFT) presentation, a Reuters event that focused on the implications of inventory planning during COVID-19. “We are a very seasonal brand for flip-flops during summer time.”
Paiva said the flip-flop maker will not discount its products and keep most items for the next season. This means protecting products with higher margins, while taking risks on forecasting and discussing with customers what they need from the brand.
Is social impact a criteria in innovation and investment? “The crisis is pushing us to achieve the impossible,” he said. “If you are lucky to be in a company to invest in innovation, it will be a source of growth. … Those who are capable to reserve some cash for innovation will be one step ahead.”
Alexander Wheeler, senior director of food chain supply at Target, saw the biggest change resulting from COVID-19 in March, with regard to online ordering, partly due to a heavy reliance on same-day delivery.
“We were prepared for an increase in digital, but during the first few weeks in April we saw almost a 300% increase in digital for a business that was already growing,” he said.
Wheeler said the company managed to pivot in its service to support consumers, but now the challenge has become the ability to continue to offer what they need most.
The biggest concern for the retailer is quickly replenishing the products that run out of stock like toilet paper, paper towels, napkins, and disinfectant.
“I think productivity as a team has gone up over 300% from this crisis, which means we are hard pressed to blend hours off and hours on,” he said, adding that many of the manual process have been automated. “We’re taking a hard look at what that means for our guests.”