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Adapting to the new normal

10 Jun 8:00 by Foo Kin Liew
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With the government’s plan to exit the “circuit breaker” in phases, most retail stores will still have to wait a little bit longer before returning to business.

While most, if not all, luxury brands have stayed relatively intact throughout the crisis, department stores and fast fashion brands have implemented further cost reduction measures across many levels. Nonetheless, the Singapore government’s aid has provided a cushioned landing for all.

 

The new norm of Clienteling and Operations

With the recent lockdown and social distancing restrictions, companies must be inventive when it comes to store operations, client engagement and clienteling to stay afloat. Luxury brands for one have introduced a myriad of innovative and creative solutions like virtual boutiques and taken a social (applications, gamification) and lifestyle (culinary, gifting) approach. However, remote and social selling have not quite taken off yet as compared to the North Asia counterparts, as it continues to be dominated by the “See Now, Buy Now” consumer culture here.

There are discussions within the Luxury sector in implementing stricter measures on physical products when it comes to client engagements – touched items may have to be set aside for over twenty-four hours in the holding area before being physically presented to the next client. Previously during the pre-Circuit-Breaker period, the Beauty sector has already designed and implemented a ‘No-Touch’ policy on the display and tester products.

Fast fashion retailers are reducing their physical display fixtures to allow enough safe distancing between customers. At the same time, display SKUs are also reduced alongside restricted use of fitting rooms. In exchange, some will provide longer time frame for returns and exchanges.

A list of store operations items would also remain on the new norm checklist: temperature screening, contact tracing, safe distancing between clients, limiting maximum shoppers, foot flow direction, sanitising routines and resources, as well as personal protective equipment. And above all, meticulous training to help the retail teams adapt to this new norm.

 

e-Commerce Capabilities and Talent

The challenging climate has revealed a varied degree of e-Commerce and digital competencies amongst individual fashion retailers. This provided an opportunity to focus on the omni-channel agenda – some are setting up their first e-Commerce capabilities now while others are going in deeper to optimise online operations and supply chain management.

If you are also looking to ramp up your e-Commerce capabilities and are on the look for qualified talent in this field, just let me know and I’ll be happy to share some profiles with you.

A silver lining learnt from markets which have resumed: foot traffic recovers faster than expected.

(As a shopper myself, I am yearning for sensory experiences of products; there are just things which technology cannot replace.)

 

If you have any current or upcoming recruitment needs or are curious to learn more market insights, I’d love to meet you virtually, for now. 

I’m just a phone call or WhatsApp message away: +65 9663 1274.