For some of us, “Never have I ever..” has suddenly become “Well I never thought I would… but now I always will”

In the last few months, I have purchased a range of items on-line that I would have preferred to buy in a real shop where I can compare real items whilst talking to real people. I needed some chairs in the house, or bar stools to be specific, and never have I ever bought a chair without sitting in it to know it feels right.

But now I have. And it’s thanks to being in lock-down. And I probably won’t be the same again.

As I sit here on my very comfortable bar stool, I can feel that a switch has been flicked. Last night’s dinner was cooked in a slow cooker that was delivered last week. This morning I dressed my toddler in clothes that got delivered yesterday. Going to a store very suddenly feels like a thing of the past.

In the grocery / FMCG sector, manufacturers and retailers have been planning for growth in online sales for a long, long time. Many would have plans in place that project a steady growth in online shopping over the next five years. But how many of them can take that five-year plan and squash it into 5 months and deliver to a shopping population whose habits have been suddenly forced to change.

Sadly, a number of businesses have already declared that this necessary but devastating disruption has been too great and they won’t be opening their doors again. When the lockdown is lifted, it will be critical for the surviving businesses to understand which shoppers return to old habits and which ones change to a new way of behaving.

I can see retailers slicing their data to track any shifts in behaviour, thus allowing them to quickly attract shoppers and deliver products.

I can see manufacturers using their data assets to strengthen relationships with consumers in a digital environment so they can further influence the purchasing decisions.

I can see market measurement and data analytics companies wanting to access these same data sets across retailers and manufacturers so they can help steer the industry into the future. Tracking solutions that are derived from both shopper and consumer panels, including loyalty card datasets, are likely to receive a lot more attention.

Who has the best chance of success when the starter gun goes off at the end of lockdown? Those companies that have:

  1. Data. Those who have the data set that measures what matters will have visibility of what is really happening, rather than what everyone thinks is happening.
  2. Systems. Dynamic and data-led decisions happen when fast and smart systems deliver recommendations to decision-makers in real-time. How quickly and intelligently can data be captured, stored, cleaned, processed, analysed, and delivered?
  3. People. Of course its people, but it needs to be people who can create what’s next, and build a collective mindset across the business to deliver.

These are interesting times to live through and I’m excited to see how businesses and communities continue to evolve into the future.

If you find this topic interesting feel free to reach out and we can have a chat.