Why data insights can help retail manage the impact of COVID-19

Johannesburg, 01 Mar 2020
Read time 3min 00sec

There are numerous complexities facing the retail market right now. COVID-19 is affecting more than just customer footfall in the stores, it’s also affecting the supply chain and brand reputations as they battle to manage their roles in the outbreak. Retail organisations are under pressure to provide stock to customers while juggling slowdowns on supply and the ethics of social distancing. In the midst of this information overload, it’s those organisations that step up and deliver exemplary solutions that will survive in the coming months. With the right data and insights, they can manage buying patterns, prepare for shortages and manage item rationing with clarity and integrity.

On top of the tangible and very real challenges that are facing retail right now, there’s also a growing wave of customer awareness around how retail should be managing panic buying at the frontline. Already, customers are complaining about the shortages in essential items such as toilet paper and frozen foods and, as the crisis deepens, this will only get worse. Retail has a responsibility to step in on the front line and manage customer purchases to prevent panic buying to ensure that everyone is cared for during the COVID-19 shutdown. If they don’t, the risk to reputation will likely be severe.

Managing customer expectations and demand can be deftly done through the use of data and insights. Business intelligence (BI) and artificial intelligence (AI) offer richly detailed analyses of customer and retail data to provide relevant information to decision-makers sitting on the frontline. They allow for decisions to be made in real time which allows for far more seamless management of stock, customer and situation. It’s also an essential advantage for the industry right now.

The news of COVID-19 and the impact it is having on South Africa is changing daily. In Italy, police checkpoints and a countrywide lockdown has seen that only essential supply shops remain open. This may yet happen in South Africa, which makes it critical for retail organisations to prepare a strategy going forward, and data is a critical component in making this strategy sustainable.

Data can support retail in assessing buying patterns when people buy in fear or when a pandemic hits. They can use this information to manage stock handling, rationing of items, and positioning of items on shelves. It can be used to determine whether or not stores should change opening hours, adjust opening times to suit specific high-risk groups, or invest into an online delivery solution that will cater for those going into quarantine or self-isolation. Insights and analytics can help organisations also reframe different stock elements that were previously not often purchased by customers in light of new needs and requirements during the shutdown.

This data can also track customer demand and leverage this to ensure stock purchases and supply chain complexities are resolved now to cope with the demand later. It’s also a valuable tool for managing spend, customer engagement and evolving marketing strategies to align with COVID-19’s impact. Speak with IntelliNexus to find out more about how we can work with you to leverage your data so your organisation can build sustainable foundations that are capable of weathering the coronavirus in South Africa.

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