Time To Rethink Your Strategy and Operations: Are You Ready For the Return of Customers?
by Betsy Burton
I went to a large retailer the other day. If you want to know the truth, our old dog just loves a specific toy, and frankly at his age he gets what he wants.
I have not been shopping in stores for many many months, and the urgency to replace his toy dawned on me one day. And, since I have gotten my vaccine shot, I felt comfortable going to the store with my mask.
But The Store Wasn’t Ready For Me
When I got to the store, there was a line of people all the way down and around the isle, with one check out person on a weekday evening.
We still have a long way to go. But, with more and more people getting vaccinated, more and more people are going to be willing to go out to stores, etc. In California 10% of the population has been fully vaccinated and 21.6% have had their first shot. In Connecticut the numbers are 14% fully and 27% one shot.
The issue is that the store was still staffing for COVID with 3 people. But the customers were starting to change behavior. I couldn’t get what I needed, when I needed it, so I went somewhere else.
We do all need to follow CDC and state guidelines. But businesses must begin planning now for their next steps as vaccines continue to rollout. Otherwise risk-conscious customers will find their new favorite supplier.
Don’t Get Caught Without Planning
Recognize that retail may get hit first, as there is likely a pent-up demand. However, there is a whole supply chain of manufacturers, shipping, transportation, employment, healthcare, information operations technology, government services etc. that will be affected up and downstream.
We may never return to the old normal, but your business needs to be ready for the new normal.
Time For Strategy Again
When the COVID pandemic first started, I wrote a research note calling on businesses to rethink their business strategy in light of the pandemic (COVID-19 Action: Define Your Business Goals and Strategy, Now). In this note we outlined six activities organizations must do, these included:
- Create a Short-Term and Long-Term Scenario
- Define New Business Goals and Objectives
- Define Your New Business Strategy
- Analyze Your Business Model and Ecosystem Impact
- Define New Target Business Outcome Metrics
- Communicate all of these plans to employees and partners.
Well, it is time to do this critical strategy work again.
One of the most common questions I get about strategy is, “how often should we do strategy work.” My answer is every day. However, there are tipping points that warrant extra attention and investment of time and resources on strategy. This is one of those.
Every business must dedicate some time and resources to step back and evaluate their vision, goals, and strategy, based on the progress and acceptance of vaccines in their customers/partners region and community.
You must also understand the impact on their business model, ecosystem, and metrics. You cannot risk or afford to have a dependent partner (supplier, shipper, financial services, employees) not aligned to support your business needs in the new normal.