Rethinking the value chain
The main consequence of the pandemic on behavior remains the explosion experienced by delivery and “click & collect” services. A formidable barrier to consumer behavior fell, allowing the unprecedented acceleration of converting to Internet-based methods.
Businesses had to intensify their efforts to gain access to consumers, as demonstrated by Nicolas Pelletier, City Leader in the Lille area for Decathlon . “To meet demand, we partially reopened stores, for our teams, and launched contactless shopping.” The concept was to have drive-throughs where the customer submits an order online, employees prepare the order in the store, and then place it in a locker in the parking lot. “This was really a new approach for Decathlon! First, we tested the process at five stores in France, including the Decathlon Campus in Villeneuve d’Ascq in the Lille area. This store has the most products in stock and was, therefore, able to satisfy most client requests.”
This forced change toward digital interaction is one which numerous brands had begun to implement even before the pandemic. But such transformation requires that the supply chain evolve and that new processes be put in place. The current goal is to make the supply chain more resilient and agile with changes made to partner sourcing as needed. Another goal is to relocate or even transform the industrialization process in the way that the Fashioncube group (Jules, Bizzbee, Pimkie, Rouge Gorge and Grain de Malice) has done. Fashioncube did not wait for the pandemic to invest in this new way of doing business. The group announced a new denim production site that will open in the second half of 2012 in the north of France where the company’s roots are.
Lastly, and this is likely only the tip of the iceberg, brands must continue to ensure minimalist yet excellent service—social distancing has become a new social norm. Strict health policies, responsiveness, and convenience must be the focus of any attempts to rethink the in-store service provided to customers, to give them a reason to want to show up in person. The pandemic has shown that omnichannel retail must be reoriented toward providing value, rethink the role of the sales staff, and offer services in addition to those that customers can find online.
Commitment to protecting the environment, providing social value, being local and involved—today’s consumers expect more from brands than a simple commercial relationship and demand more from companies than ethical posturing. Even before the pandemic, one out of three French consumers surveyed were of the opinion that companies and their related brands needed to make concrete commitments to society as a whole and/or the environment.*** This is indeed what businesses did very quickly during the first days of the Covid-19 crisis by participating in various social movements.
The first weeks were an opportunity to refocus our teams’ skills and means of production and design toward creating protective products. In the Lille region, this mobilized a lot of people and we contributed to an admirable collective effort. The Hauts-de-France region is a symbol of solidarity during the crisis
Nicolas Pelletier emphasizes
Business commitment to supporting society was demonstrated, for example, by Roquette manufacturing hydroalcoholic solutions, by Lemahieu bringing an entire community together to manufacture masks, by OVH providing free cloud storage to help guarantee continuity of service, and by the public steps taken by Decathlon to make the company’s 3D snorkeling mask plans available in open source format so they could be adapted for ventilators. These actions will not only be isolated measures. Rather, they have given companies and their employees a sense of purpose and such action will surely become one of the pillars of corporate social responsibility on which the future of retail will be built.
*** Study Insitut Viavoice