How retailers can return to profitability post-pandemic

Viewpoint September 2020
How retailers can return to profitability post-pandemic

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How retailers can return to profitability post-pandemic


Well before COVID-19 hit during Q1 2020, bricks-and-mortar retailers already faced a broad array of challenges that together posed slow-burn but existential threats. Footfall has been steadily declining, as consumers continue to embrace eCommerce.

Online retail has made “going shopping” less enjoyable, more burdensome, and more expensive. It has also made prices – as well as margin and mark-ups – more transparent to consumers. The growing number of ghost malls in North America and struggling U.K. high streets are both bellwethers of where consumer purchasing behaviour is headed.

We have produced this paper to give retailers a four-point plan of how they can best return to profitability after coronavirus. Retail is the lifeblood of consumer economies, and we have already helped several retailers embrace one or more of these approaches.


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Ebiquity Analytics

This paper was developed by a cross-functional group from Ebiquity’s Advanced Analytics and Data Science teams. It is their work on behalf of retail clients that features in this paper. In alphabetical order by surname, the team is: Shane Alexander, Business Director; Lois Ashe, Senior Consultant; Stephen Gausden, Principal Consultant; Nic Pietersma, Business Director; Nick Rhodes, Senior Data Scientist; and, Tom Skinner, Principal Consultant. We would also like to thank Sam Gaunt, Head of Media at Lidl from 2015-2020, for his guidance and involvement in this project.

What it covers

A four-point action plan of how retailers can best return to profitability after coronavirus:

  1. Break down silos between different functions, integrating data and analytics
  2. Identify the critical success factors underpinning business performance
  3. Get the balance right between short-term and long-term priorities
  4. Create a smarter strategy for opening and closing stores
Retailers need to follow a programme of continuous improvement, one that involves measurement, analysis, execution, and review to determine what works best for them.