Business Cents: thoughts on the post-pandemic action plan
BRIGHTON, Ontario – For the past seven weeks, the world has been focused on one thing: the COVID-19 pandemic. In a special edition of Business Cents, my conversation with Albert Marrache, president of Phoenix AMD International tackles the questions surrounding what Canadian furniture, mattress and appliances retailers should be doing right now to get ready for the new normal and how business has been changed forever.
The conversation was recorded last week via Zoom, the video conferencing service and I apologise in advance for after physically distancing for the past month and a half, I’m in desperate need of a haircut.
The conversation starts with an admission. Until mid-March, I was under the delusion I was a member of a rare and truly fortunate generation: one that had never known a world war or suffered through a global tragedy such as the Spanish Flu pandemic or the Great Depression of the 1930s. The past few weeks have been humbling indeed.
Albert argues strongly that the pandemic has changed the way consumers behave. This means retailers must adapt to a new reality. Retailers, particularly independent furniture, mattress and appliance retailers, must learn to become what he describes as hybrids. Their social media presence and their web site must function as an extension of their brick and mortar store.
More importantly, having that brick and mortar store will become a significant competitive advantage in an increasing internet dominated retail marketplace. He even suggests the possibility that e-commerce sites will eventually outnumber traditional brick and mortar stores.
He passionately believes retailers should be “doubling down” on their social media efforts. Furthermore, they need to train their salespeople to sell in ways other than face-to-face – on the telephone and by using technologies such as Zoom, which the pandemic has made considerably more popular in the past few weeks.
The tragedy of the past few weeks has also given rise to new opportunity. Albert believe during this lull, retailers should be focusing on training, on improving and commercialising their web presence, on adopting new technologies and on planning for new retail order.
And as always throughout the Business Cents series, retailers need to focus on profit, not on sales. Albert believes profit needs to be the driver in every decision a retailer makes.
Editor's Note: For the first time, the conversation can be viewed with French subtitles (by turning on Closed Captions, and selecting French from the Settings button).