Bear with us.
The phrase has become common in recent times in retailer communications with customers during the COVID-19 crisis. Fashion and footwear companies face unprecedented inventory and fulfillment issues, and the delays couldn’t come at a worse time, experts said. With the closing of physical stores around the world, online sales have become a vital source of income for businesses. This is why retailers are changing the way they do business, perhaps in the long term.
Retailers large and small have been affected by the changing sales landscape.
“The unique part of this disruption is that no category is affected the most. Everyone is feeling the impact. From independent retailers to global brands, every retailer is in a situation they’ve never experienced before, ”said Jeff Ball, vice president of strategic business development at Manhattan Associates, a supply chain solutions company. .
However, he noted that fashion and shoe brands are particularly in contention due to the fact that their inventory is so segmented, by size, color and style.
A number of issues contributed to the delays for the com-dots. The first problem is simply accessing inventory, following plant closures in Asia earlier this year that disrupted the global supply chain.
The second concerns the new security requirements in distribution centers. “For retailers who handle non-essential products, they are limited on the number of employees they can have in the distribution center to ensure their health and safety,” Ball said. “It can significantly slow down or even stop the fulfillment of online orders. “
Strict security measures have led some companies to temporarily or even permanently suspend shipments. Net-a-porter, for example, accepts orders online, but told customers it won’t ship until distribution centers reopen in the “near future.”
Brands that operated in the markets also had problems, according to Ted Rogers, vice president of strategic marketing at Digital River, which provides back-end technology to e-commerce brands. As Amazon shifted its operations to prioritize the flow of essential items to healthcare companies and consumers (and managed its own warehouse closures), “many brands encountered significant issues. customer satisfaction due to the redefinition of process priorities, ”he said.
The immediate impact of these issues is lost revenue, although Rogers said it was difficult to measure the exact drop amid the larger drop in retail sales due to widespread store closings.
However, he added, “What is clear is that traditional retail has been hit hard by this pandemic, and the gap continues to widen between those who had an established online presence and those who didn’t. The brands that are doing the best right now are those that have a direct-to-consumer sales channel. “
Ball also stressed the need for retailers to be very fluid in the way they process online orders. “Due to the multiple increase in online orders, retailers are making more of their inventory online for purchase,” he said. “This is why true omnichannel systems are so important, as they give retailers the flexibility to quickly adapt and scale their systems in response to environmental and consumer factors. “
He added, “We expect this to be a major time for in-store fulfillment as retailers need to complement the dot-com business and find the value of a more dispersed fulfillment network. “
In the meantime, it’s critical that retailers are transparent about any shipping issues, advised Jessica Ramirez, retail research analyst at Jane Hali & Associates. “Most retailers currently have a disclaimer at the top of their websites stating that there are delivery delays. It was a precaution on the part of the retailer, ”she said.
Experts said most consumers understand today’s challenges in retailing, so by clearly managing expectations, businesses can maintain good customer relationships and protect brand loyalty, which will be so important to as the economy reopens in the coming months.