Every state seems to be in a different phase of reopening and everyone is watching tenuously as positive test numbers in some states have begun to rise. Manufactures are in a particularly difficult predicament as they search for new customers while ramping up productions and instituting safety guidelines that constrain that production. The only constant is change and these hard times will change too, but each business must be an agent of that change. By looking at the recent past of 2008 we see that the economy can improve, but we also see evidence that attempting to ride out the storm is a mistake. Manufactures need to make changes now with the belief that COVID-19 is here to stay.

When COVID-19 hit, retailers that had to shut down pulled most of their shipment orders and were left with only the inventory that they had on hand. Those same stores have now reopened, but not all of those supply lines have been reestablished. Shoppers that returned to their favorite stores found that shelfs were somewhat bare as retailers were scrambling to get new shipments and some are still facing complications today. Grocery stores and those deemed essential retailers also faced empty shelves, but their plight was due to strained supply lines that could not keep up with new demand. Empty shelves are always a bad thing and send a troubling signal to the consumer. This creates opportunities for manufactures that may have had difficulty getting premium shelf space now have some leverage as stores desperately want to keep up appearances. By getting these products in front of consumers, a brand loyalty could be formed that will continue beyond the pandemic. Other openings have also been created by large manufactures who pivoted their business models to make items like hand sanitizers and masks. It will take some time for these companies to resume normal operations, but retailers need supplies now.

As manufactures pursue these new shelves opening it is important to note that they should diversify their portfolio. Just as doing nothing would be a mistake, so too would be placing all of their orders in one or two chains. New companies are announcing closures every day, both due to COVID-19 and traditional financial troubles, and it would be wise to spread products out to as many retailers as possible. The best stores to target will be those who are committed to online formats and are open to getting products to customers in new ways. Safety is the most important thing to consumers during this pandemic and success will be found in partners who take new safety precautions seriously to foster consumer confidence.

CSG has seen everything from The Great Depression, multiple recessions, and industry transformations over our nearly 88 year history. It is that long history that we can draw upon to assist manufactures as they navigate these troubled waters. Our historical data details how the top retailers survived the last recession and CSG’s Top Online Retailers Insight (TORI) database highlights stores with a strong digital presence.