Thoughts from Industry Leaders on Opportunities and Failures with COVID-19

As LPM gathers information from retail leadership on the impact and response to the current pandemic, individuals are offering their insights into the opportunities, challenges, and failures of organizations related to loss prevention, supply chain, crisis management, and other areas. Send your observations and comments to jackt (at) lpportal.com.

“There has never been a greater opportunity of this magnitude for AP teams to project a sense of calm and reason both to the C-suite and to their store teams. Communication should be clear, concise and above all practical. AP leadership must stay connected to their stores, even if only by phone, so they can hear firsthand the concerns of the front-line team members and then utilize that feedback to adopt or modify policy that supports store operations in a way that reinforces that their safety and that of their customers is priority one. After this crisis passes, employees will not only remember the crisis but how the company responded positively—or not so positively—to their best interests.” – Former VP LP, grocery

“Business continuity and AP teams have failed to invest in the resources needed to execute a true safety plan for this type of event due to costs and expiration dates on things like hand sanitizers. Retailers have not moved past requiring customers to touch screens with credit card payments or sign with a digital pen that every customer has to touch. Smart retailers that offer non-essential goods that have closed should be appreciated and potentially subsidized for their care of employees and customers. Education of employees taking proper distance and being educated on CDC recommendations is a must have. Retail employees should especially be aware of the incubation time and be mindful of those with compromised immunity or elderly contact if they are still engaged with the public. The younger generations are not taking this seriously and need to hear the risks they pose from more than just their parents. Schools are closing and college-age students are put out of their normal routine and are not taking heed of the situation and will likely be a point of spread of the virus while only experiencing mild symptoms for themselves putting others at risk.” – VP LP, big-box retailer

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“The tariffs created an overbought situation here with shippers as they wanted to get ahead of major potential taxing. The corporate tax changes made the corporation balance sheets look far more favorable regardless of the large inventories they were now carrying. The virus has created a massive buying situation from the consumer, deeply cutting the over supplied domestic manufacturers/retailers here in the US.

“The interesting piece to watch is how quickly we need our suppliers to be back up based on how quickly the consumers buy through our inventories. I read that the Chinese factories are slowly getting back into the swing of things with voluntary return to work and more are coming. Apparently the dray men and truck drivers are making their way back on the roads as well in China. I focus on China as that is our largest importer for most of our commoditized goods.

“The pause may turn out to be favorable and may allow for recalibration of supply and demand so that we will see a re-boot of true just-in-time methodologies sooner rather than later versus the inventory positions. As fear settles and we go back to a rhythmic buying patterns as opposed to the run on toilet paper, we will see the trend lines settle.

“This is similar to the unplanned ebb and flow of Y2K panic and the impact to the port strike some years back. A major spike in demand and then a smoothing out of the demand line over a short to medium window of time.” – Supply chain executive

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