Taylist Media managing editor Andrew Davies on where we are so far….
This time last week I quickly rattled out a piece that took a snapshot of the industry as I saw it there and then. I wrote it, as I often do, on my phone sitting on a tube train heading for the office.
Seven days later and I’m at home, in my loft, writing on a laptop perched on a ‘desk’ made from a worktop offcut and a Black & Decker Workmate.
We are through the looking glass.
But, just like last week, here’s where I think we are right now:
- All retailers have shut their showrooms as per government instructions;
- The majority had already done it a few days earlier anyway;
- Most had seen the shutdown coming and were racing to finish outstanding jobs in full;
- Now outstanding jobs are being finished to keep essential services in people’s homes – cooking, washing, WC. For most, aesthetics can wait;
- Many retailers are having to take crash courses in technology to remotely keep in touch with clients and staff;
- Many retailers are calling on their kids to explain social media to them in ways they understand;
- Most suppliers have done, and are doing, everything they can to assist with that;
- However, most suppliers are now either shut completely or running skeleton staff to deal with emergencies. Small majority (but represent big volumes in market terms) are saying they’re running production as normal;
- My understanding is that most factory shutdowns are more to do with plummet in demand than inability to carry on under strict health and safety guidelines;
- Suppliers are bracing themselves for many, many conversations with customers about extending credit terms;
- A consistent message across the board has been ‘don’t stop marketing, you need to stay visible and keep communicating’;
- No one really knows how to get hold of that government money any time soon;
- Many see this period as the calm before the commercial storm but everyone’s genuine priority is to keep themselves, their employees and their customers safe and well.
So time is the big unknown and the biggest enemy. There will be a lot of people in this sector – and every other – hunched over spreadsheets trying to work out just how long they can hold out for.
But there are glimpses of hope. Firstly, the fact that this is an invisible common enemy has brought out a sense of community spirit that I’ve never witnessed before.
Secondly, we are in a sector where conversations with customers can continue despite a lockdown. This is your chance to find new ways to talk to them.
And thirdly, there is an end to all this. We don’t know how long it is, but it is a finite period. If you can just get that far, there’s a market waiting for you.
We’ve launched our new podcast looking at how retailers and suppliers are dealing with this situation and it’s great to hear such positivity in such difficult times.
So keep going, you’re all being astonishing.
To listen to the new kbbreview podcast, search ‘kbbreview’ in your podcast app or go to kbbrpod.kbbreview.com