Couple takes a walk at Eton Chagrin Boulevard, an indoor mall filled with retail shops and speciality stores, now closed due to the coronavirus epidemic, in Woodmere Village, Ohio. Job cuts have escalated across the U.S. economy in recent days that remains all but shut down due measures taken to halt the spread of the virusVirus Outbreak Ohio Economy, Woodmere Village, United States - 30 Apr 2020

As retailers ready to reopen stores following the lifting of “stay at home” restrictions, Deloitte is offering a “Reopening Playbook” aimed at helping companies better understand the perspectives of consumers and sales associates as well as glean insights about the operational hurdles ahead.

“While it is critical to work through operational and tactical needs to reopen stores, this is an opportunity to reexamine who you are, considering the customer, brand, product and store,” authors of the report noted. “A store reopening will be fundamentally different in every way. Be prepared to pivot and react while also considering a change to your business model.”

Deloitte noted that the values and behaviors of consumers have changed and evolved over the course of the coronavirus pandemic, “and stores will likely play a different role in the customer journey.”

New data sets, as well as market insights, should be “relied upon to assess market conditions and develop financial and operational plans,” Deloitte said, adding that retailers and brands should also consider the ways they will “prepare and support” employees “to adhere to new safety and sanitation guidelines” while also navigating “changes to their work and workplace.”

The playbook suggests pre-opening plans include a clear roadmap, mobilization of teams and alignment of leadership as well as being prepared to “challenge orthodoxies.” The first step also requires fully understanding how customers have changed from the point of view of their frame of mind, demographics, financial position and core values.

“Understand how your customers have changed to model your store demand,” Deloitte stated. “Consider using a totally new set of data and assumptions, given historical data may not work.”

Key questions to ask, include: “What are customers’ new needs, priorities, and behaviors? How have market conditions and government regulations affected demand? What data sources can I use in place of historical demand?”; and, “What is my financial and operational plan post–COVID-19?”

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