The retail industry has had to adapt once again. Many businesses were looking at March 30, 2020 as a reopen date to resume traditional services. Unfortunately, the number of COVID-19 cases is increasing and many leaders are looking at the first week of May as a reopen period. Of course, this date is likely to move back even further in the coming weeks and the retail industry can no longer wait in limbo. The latest coping strategies are to furlough employees and have executives take pay cuts. This is disappointing for all that are to be affected, but it does give us the indication that retail companies are planning a full reopen as soon as the COVID-19 outbreak passes.

Gap Inc. and Macy’s Inc. are two of the largest companies to announce the extension of store closure dates and the furloughing of employees. Both companies have cited that saving costs is their top priority as they hope to minimize the impact of closures. Columbia Sportswear Company has taken things a step further as their CEO has taken a heavy pay cut to his base salary during the outbreak. The new date to reopen could be sometime in May, but we all must remember that the timetable is not concrete as the situation continues to develop.  These companies are hoping for the best, but are prepared for prolonged store closures.

Retail is not shutting down; it is simply pivoting to a new platform. Online retail has been growing steadily over the past few years and now it will be the lifeline for these companies. Walmart Stores Inc. and Target Corporation have been some of the industry leaders in the Omni channel experience, but these companies have the added boon of being considered essential business during the outbreak. Other retailers such as Macy’s and Barnes & Noble Inc. have not been so fortunate. While it may not be safe for their business to physically operate, this doesn’t mean that their business should shut down. People will still need to buy clothes for virtual meetings and reading will likely be an essential way to pass time as we all stay home.

Companies have two meaningful choices to make during the shutdown. They could try to just ride out the storm and hope they come out on the other side or they can leverage their digital power to reduce losses now and improve profits in the future. There will be growing pains, but the rewards for pushing an ecommerce strategy could be extraordinary. Eventually retail stores will reopen, but that does not mean online retail will cease. Those who bolster their digital infrastructure now could reduce current losses, create a better Omni channel experience, and will be future proofing themselves for the digital wave. Ecommerce also comes with an added benefit for suppliers as there is no shortage of virtual shelf space. Suppliers who found it difficult to break into the traditional brick-and-mortar store now have a chance to get their products in front of online shoppers who are looking for a little retail therapy.

Chain Store Guide provides suppliers looking to stock virtual shelves with essential contact information for 4,600 retailers that operate online stores in TORI, our Top Online Retailers Insight sales leads database. This resource includes purely online retailers such as Newegg as-well-as brick-and-mortar stores with online storefronts like Best Buy. Act now to reach the ecommerce retailers that need your products.