Timing: No one can be certain how much notice we will get for when the lockdown will end. How clear are you on what your lead time is to get up and running? What is a minimum viable service that you could provide at 24-48 hours’ notice? What do you need to have in place to make this work?
Communicating with suppliers: Ensure there is full supply chain transparency by communicating with suppliers what it is you will require when we return to “normal”, e.g. Restaurants having a start-up order based on a post-crisis menu. This will ensure you are at the front of the queue when the demand returns
Demand won’t be the same as ‘before-COVID’: Think what stock-keeping-units (SKUs) and ranges will be in demand; lower-priced essentials for those on reduced incomes? Increased demand for higher-priced reward purchases by those whose incomes haven’t been affected, but have pent up demand?
Limiting ranges? Tell people why: If you are limiting your product range, and not supplying certain SKUs or ranges, explain why not. Think about how you’ll communicate to customers and suppliers alike. Tell them how long you expect the reduced range to be in place before you move back to “normal”, and your plan to ensure that suppliers are aware of this.
Understanding changing customer behaviour: What data is to monitor changes in demand during this period and how quickly can you react? Understanding how different customer segments and regions are behaving in the first few weeks will be key to maximising sales. Consider using manual feedback from stores if data isn’t readily available.
Share your data: Work with your suppliers collaboratively throughout this period by sharing data so they can also understand the demand profile on a timely basis and react accordingly – this will help to lighten your load.
Remobilising your teams: What is the communication plan for furloughed staff? Are you keeping them up to date with developments in a structured way, or do you expect them all to be ready and waiting at the drop of a hat? Communicate early and clearly how you plan to mobilise the team, when they will be expected to return to work after the government announcement, where they will be needed, for how long, etc. And ask for their feedback to ensure engagement and demonstrate your preparedness.
Some new customer behaviour will stick: Will home delivery demand remain high, revert to pre-crisis levels or be somewhere in-between? In our view it’s likely to be the latter, so what are your plans to service this, particularly if home delivery was only introduced as an interim measure? If this is the new normal will your pricing have to change to reflect this, e.g. charging for premium delivery slots now that more people understand the value of the service? If the initial demand for discretionary/luxury products is high, what needs to be done to enhance the delivery experience to reflect this?
Your go-live team: Who is in the dedicated go-live team that will manage and coordinate the return to work process? Similar to peak operations, these teams should have the right mix of senior stakeholders and qualified operators. Communication channels should be clear, and ways of working agreed and shared with all teams.