Ugh, what a year. Nothing quite worked out the way anybody thought and the number of surprises, shocks and unexpected consequences continue to pile up on a near-daily basis.
We know things are not the same and will probably not return to quite the way they were…ever. For those in the home and gift industry, the way you go about your business is very different than it was this time last year.
As a retailer, your model has been entirely turned upside down — or at least it should be. Your physical store should look and operate in ways that are very much changed from the previous times. Your merchandise mix, how you display product and the way you manage your traffic flow: they are all being done in new ways. Of course, you are doing much more business online. And if you’re not, you’re probably not in business at all.
Those retailers that have made it through 2020 are going to be stronger, better suited and more nimble in dealing with conditions going forward. Congratulate yourself for still being here, it means you are doing the right things.
If you’re a supplier, your customer base may barely resemble what it looked like a year ago. Many of your retailers are out of business or at least significantly smaller. You probably are doing more business with certain types of stores, namely mass merchants and discounters. Their market share gains have been huge.
But are you looking elsewhere for customers? No matter what you make and sell, there are stores out there that you never paid attention to that you should now. I’m talking grocery stores, drug chains and dollar stores. They are all gaining business and represent new areas for you.
You should also be looking at selling direct to consumers. Don’t be put off by possible reactions from existing accounts. You need to do what’s best for your business.
While some parts of our country will return to how they used to be, there’s no escaping that the pandemic has been a game changer and many things won’t. You’ve made it this far. It may not be much easier going forward but it’s probably not going to get any harder either.
Go have some eggnog and onto 2021…
Award-winning Journalist & Consultant for the retailing and home furnishings industries with extensive business media experience in both fields.