Global Supply Chain Forum

Retailers share: Lessons learned from a pandemic 

Thu January 21, 2021 02:50 AM



Have you wondered how other top retailers are managing through the pandemic? Do you wish you knew what was keeping your peers up at night right now? Well, IBM had the opportunity to do just that.

IBM recently joined several large retailers across fashion, beauty, jewelry and more, for a virtual roundtable hosted by Cathy Hotka. During the 60-minute conversation, retail leaders compared notes on how the pandemic has provided opportunities to enhance the retail customer experience and embrace process and technology improvements. Several topics stood out to me that I felt compelled to share.

Celebrate the wins

Going into 2020, businesses were bright-eyed and ready for new opportunities. Retailers never imagined that by late March their doors would be forced closed and, in some cases, never reopen. They quickly rose to address many challenges necessary to adapt and continue to serve their customers. One thing resonated throughout the discussion – resilience. In listening to these retail leaders, there was a major sense that last year was hard, it was unpleasant, but collectively, we have learned, grown and prevailed.

Meet demand

Big projects take time. That’s no secret. But when stores are shut down and consumers are shifting to eCommerce to make vital purchases to provide for their families, it’s on retailers to pivot quickly to meet those new demands. Online sales are no longer a “nice to have,” but a necessity for most brick-and-mortar businesses. Standing up an online presence, under normal circumstances, takes months. The pandemic proved though, that when it’s a matter of survival for your business, that work becomes your priority.


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