Consumer Discretionary

Retailing In An Unpredictable World

<p>Thinking about the enormity of the healthcare crisis and its impact on every country on the planet, it can hardly be surprising that we are now experiencing a whole series of unforeseen consequences of differing severity. From the global supply chain problems to labour shortages, rising inflation and energy problems, retailing yet again finds itself battling with problems in all directions.&nbsp;</p><p>In our latest report published this week in our&nbsp;Retail World&nbsp;series that continues to track the impact of Covid-19 on retailing around the world, the scale of these challenges is clear.</p><p>There was never going to be a single announcement that the pandemic was over. We have come to accept that instead, we will have to learn to live with Covid-19 just so long as the vaccine programmes continue to be rolled out rapidly and fairly around the world. India, as mentioned in this report, has just achieved an incredible milestone of administering a billion vaccine doses.&nbsp;</p><p>But the after-effects for retailing along with many business sectors are manifested in the problems caused by disruption to factories, supplies and distribution. Initial consumer euphoria at the easing of lockdowns is being replaced by a return to uncertainty in many countries as higher prices and lack of goods on physical and virtual shelves becomes more evident.&nbsp;</p><p>Retail leadership teams that have been forged into leaner, faster moving, risk-taking units through these last 19 months find themselves having to operate at this continued pace in order to combat these new challenges. As more than one CEO has told me, it is the sheer unpredictability of these issues and what might loom up next that is the hardest thing of all. All of this is happening whilst retailers are still adjusting to the massive acceleration of change that has created the true omnichannel world we now live in.&nbsp;</p><p>we asked all of our retail commentators to highlight the most important issues facing their businesses or retail in their region. There are many consistent issues around the world, with the supply chain being the most critical one, but also the economic fall-out from the pandemic with rising inflation and costs as well as the growing number of job vacancies are mentioned by many.&nbsp;</p><p>Across all the issues raised though is the most important person - the customer. No matter what the challenges are - getting the goods on the shelf or trying to keep down price rises - the customer&rsquo;s expectations from an omnichannel retailer continue to be set high and getting higher. It is an extremely tough and unforgiving environment in which to operate. But as this latest report also highlights, it is pushing the very best retailers to accelerate their transformation strategies and to develop innovative ways of meeting those customer needs.</p><p>&nbsp;World Retail Congress report:</p><p>&nbsp;</p>
KR Expert - Ian Mcgarrigle

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