The Big Pivot: The Larger Implications of Adapting to Market Shifts

May 14, 2020

Some of the retail industry’s most popular brands have joined in the global effort to produce supplies in high demand, particularly in support of healthcare workers during the current global crisis. This pivot could not have been easy, but it highlights the innovation and resiliency that successful brands and retailers possess and will continue to exercise in the future. The fast-changing nature of consumer demand forces brands to constantly reinvent themselves.  

As many retailers face their own challenges, several have taken a look at how they can leverage their existing supply chains to create new products for which there is significant demand. And in the current climate, these successful new product introductions, prompted by shared altruistic ideals, have been compelling to see.

  • New Balance: The footwear brand reconfigured its manufacturing facilities in less than two weeks to make 100,000 masks using materials meant for shoes and laces.
  • Carhartt: Best known for its rugged work clothing and gloves, this brand successfully changed gears at two of its largest manufacturing facilities in Kentucky and Tennessee to make surgical gowns and masks.
  • Dior: As an example of a luxury brand adapting to the circumstances, Dior switched up its European designer perfume production facility to manufacture hand sanitizer.
  • Woodard Furniture and Schumacher: Schumacher has risen to the occasion and donated hundreds of yards of fabric to the design team at Woodard Furniture of Michigan to manufacture masks.
  • Obagi: The high-end skincare brand is producing hand sanitizer for its employees and also for healthcare workers.

The brands mentioned above, and many many others, are donating these new products to organizations that need them most during these uncertain times. And given the severity of the current circumstances, this display of generosity has been incredibly moving. We’re proud that many of our customers have also been giving back to their communities.

There are several lessons to be learned here. This global event is revealing the need for retailers (such as the brands mentioned above) to make rapid changes and adjustments across their business operations. As we’ve seen, there are many retailers that are able to mobilize their supply chains and quickly rework their processes to manufacture new goods in response to new spikes in demand. This speedy response on the part of retailers will become the norm in order for businesses to survive. And as the demand for different products increases worldwide, successful retailers will become more nimble in adapting to these changes, not only in domestic markets but international ones as well.

Adapting your online business cannot only be a domestic market initiative. International e-commerce is a crucial business driver and growth strategy for online businesses, especially now. Geographic diversification for selling goods is coming to the forefront as a key strategy for reducing a brand’s dependence on domestic markets and enabling business expansion. It is a way to mitigate losses in markets with declining sales by shifting the focus to selling more products into other markets where sales are strong. Cross-border e-commerce brands need to craft thoughtful strategies for new market entry to support their growth to make sure they enter the right markets at the right time. However, consumer behaviors in each market and region are different, which will continue to be the case in the future. Once a business is committed to entering multiple global  markets, then it must move quickly to localize the online experiences for shoppers in each locale in order to boost conversion rates and increase sales. Ultimately, a successful cross-border strategy reveals a brand’s ability to respond and adapt to global market disruptions to achieve profitable outcomes.

In sum, online retail won’t be the same in the future, nor should it. E-commerce brands will shed the cumbersome, antiquated business processes of the past across manufacturing, production, marketing and sales channels, and everything in between, in order to keep pace with changing customer needs and behaviors. New and nimble business models with cross-border commerce at its’ core will emerge in the future, and we will explore these themes further in the months to come.

To learn how Flow can help your business flourish in international markets during global market disruptions, get in touch today and request a demo.

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