Navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenging time for most industries, including retail has witnessed the impact of COVID-19 over the past few months. The widespread health and safety concerns, travel restrictions and local movement limitations, retailers in India started feeling the heat.
During this period, retailers are looking to change their current working strategies to generate revenue as usual without deploying more manpower in order to abide by the government guidelines.
Even the Retailers Association of India (RAI) has predicted that it would take at least 10-12 months for India’s retail industry to recover from the impact of the COVID-19. Their recent survey for June 2020 shows that Retail employs ~40-50 million people directly of which the Modern Trade sector employs more than 6 million Indians. This staggering number of retail employees has forced 20-25% of the industry players to require a capital infusion to stay afloat. But even then, 25% of jobs in the industry may get impacted in one way or another.
Only 7-8% of the retail industry is functioning at the moment, as the retailers are selling only essential items, said Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, RAI, which represents 13,667 member establishments with 500,000 stores employing 43 million people.
Although the country slowly relaxing the lockdown regulations on a monthly basis with precautionary measures, only 20% of the retailers are expecting to start earning profit from August 2020.
But the real question for retailers is whether they can flexibly respond to the diametrically opposed challenges?
Well, it is clear that the response to this virus has fundamentally changed the reality for retailers irrespective of whether it lasts for weeks or months. It’s time to face the fact and start adapting the best practices and innovations.
Best Practices for Retail during the COVID-19 Pandemic
1. Stay informed and manage employee safety
Update your employees regularly on the current COVID-19 situation and take all the necessary precautions to ensure that the health and safety of the workforce are not compromised.
- Check for symptoms associated with COVID-19
- If an employee feels unwell, ask them to go home immediately
- Ensure that safety measures like the following are in place to reduce transmission among employees: –
1. Practice social distancing
2. Have regular temperature checks for everyone in the workplace
3. Wearing a mask and gloves at all times is mandatory
4. Employees in high-risk areas like billing counters, customer assistance, etc. should be provided and equipped with face shields at all times.
It is recommended to share easy to fill operational checklists like the PAZO COVID-19 Checklist to measure the understanding of the operations being relayed to your employees from the headquarters in real-time. Using operational solutions like PAZO – Retail Operations Software, the data collected from these checklists across all retail branches get collated automatically to generate reports you can rely on and make successful business strategies.
Check out the full COVID-19 preparedness Checklist ready to be implemented.
2. Be transparent
Your customers trust you and want to stay informed on everything that is happening and will affect their experience. And so, do your employees. Keep them informed at all times – for example, if there is a change in any operation from the headquarters, or a new business process is being implemented with the current safety guidelines in mind, etc.
See how PAZO can help your business to stay well connected and updated during the COVID-19 Crisis.
3. Personal Hygiene for Employees
- Emphasize on hand hygiene during work hours
- Encourage the use of gloves to avoid direct contact
- Ensure their daily self-hygiene so as not to compromise the workforce
- Educate them on the proper way to dispose of their masks, tissues, and gloves
Solution for Manpower Rationalization
Going forward, small scale retailers are looking to lay-off 30% of their manpower while it reflects for the medium retailers as 12% and 5% for large retailers. When nearly 20% of the overall retail manpower faces the possibility of unemployment – Retail operational solution (such as Retail Operations Software) tools like PAZO helps to rebuild the changing scenario. With low operational costs, it’s easy to adapt for retailers small to large.
3 Steps for Retailers to Respond during COVID-19 with PAZO
As the contributors for 40% of India’s consumption and ~10% to India’s GDP, all retailers play a crucial role in protecting employee and customer health. In helping retails to adapt to smarter solutions and cope with large scale loss of manpower, companies like PAZO are developing following practical solutions that will shape the recovery and strengthening of a staggering economy.
- Employee safety is the first priority. Ensure that all necessary steps are taken to keep the frontline store employees safe and healthy, as they attend to customers.
The PAZO can be used to host communication modules that educate all personnel about the safety precautions taken for the health of both employees and the customers.
- Supply-chain resilience is the next important step. Disruption to the supply chain had a great impact on the industry. Build resilience by being agile, leverage extended ecosystems, and embrace risk for holistic revival and sustenance.
PAZO comes with an inventory update system that helps analyze real-time data so that there is a clear insight into business operations.
- The third step is to enable an elastic digital workplace that minimizes business disruption. With a reduced workforce, retailers have to be more efficient than ever in making sure all crucial management tasks are completed.
PAZO also comes with the feature of raising issues to the right resources and having the accountability of resolving it within the expected time.
To achieve ultimate retail success during uncertain times, retailers have to adapt business models to complement the changing consumer behavior. Implementing advanced technology like retail operation software can be beneficial even when the pandemic has passed. It is time for Responsible Retail.
Incorporating technological solutions such as checklists to manage the logistical and workforce front can ensure that the customers follow social distancing, occupancy limits, and other safety and hygiene regulations as outlined by the government. Merging this with dynamic store navigation, mobile checkout, offering a wide variety of online payment options, and monitoring traffic into their store operations strategy can serve as valuable post-pandemic store operations tools.
The COVID-19 situation is complex and evolving at lightning speed, and on a daily basis. Having a well-managed response will help retailers bring in some consistency in operations and maximize their revenues. Retailers should see this as an opportunity to out-perform competitors and build a strong foundation for digital, future-ready business.