Published on 21 Apr 2020

Business Strategies for Retailers During COVID-19 and Beyond

With the retail sector in Singapore severely impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, a panel of marketing professors from Nanyang Business School shared their perspectives on consumer behaviour and retailing strategies in a webinar organised by the Singapore Retailers Association (SRA) on 17 April 2020. 

A time to reboot, reimagine and respond to customer's changing needs was the key message from Dr Lynda Wee, Adjunct Associate Professor. She noted that retailers' digital transformation plans have accelerated by circumstance, not by choice, and this is the time to be intentional about digital transformation. Dr Wee suggested the 3Ds for retailers to stay relevant in this time of change - "put in place your digital transformation plan, be a design thinker and because shopping is no longer location-based but people-based, focus on developing your staff."

Describing the new normal post COVID-19, Associate Professor Lewis Lim shared three possible patterns of business recovery - the V-shaped, U-shaped and L-shaped patterns. "Businesses need to be able to predict their recovery pattern and adapt their recovery strategy accordingly."

Digital was the main theme throughout the webinar moderated by Ms Rose Tong, Executive Director of SRA.

"Make sure your digital strategy breaks through the clutter, user experience is fantastic, and it has to be sustainable in the long run," shared Assistant Professor Charlene Chen. Associate Professor Elison Lim also advised retailers to consider senior consumers who are taking to digital more these days, and to make content user-friendly for this segment.

According to Associate Professor Lewis, going digital is not simply a matter of adding an e-commerce platform or a Facebook page. The business needs to constantly communicate genuine messages around how they can help customers solve their problems. Associate Professor Elison added, "Digital as a solution cannot supersede the message that you are trying to bring across to your audience. Empathy is important and being able to communicate that you understand the customer's needs will help you stand out.

Attended by almost 90 participants in the retail industry, a key takeaway from the webinar was to be relentlessly relevant and to keep the consumer at the heart of their business strategy.