Anti-equilibrium Archive

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Reimagining stores for retail’s next normal

As the COVID-19 pandemic erupted, hundreds of thousands of stores across the United States shut their doors, unsure as to when they would reopen. Retail workers have been furloughed or laid off en masse, causing widespread economic pain and deepening the devastation of an unprecedented public-health crisis.

At some point, stores will reopen and people will return to work, as evidenced in countries like China where the pandemic has passed its peak. The timing is uncertain and will differ across US markets, but what’s certain is that stores can’t simply pick up where they left off. COVID-19 has changed consumer behavior, perhaps permanently, and retail stores will need to take these new behaviors into account.

To maximize their potential when they emerge from the crisis, retailers must factor in the realities of the post-coronavirus world. In this article, we share a perspective on the trends that will affect US apparel and specialty retail stores postcrisis and the strategic imperatives that will enable them to thrive in the “next normal.”

How the crisis has changed consumer behavior

Consumers have altered their shopping and buying behavior during the pandemic. For one, loss of income and declining consumer confidence have driven decreases in discretionary spending. In an April 6–12 survey of US consumers, 67 percent of respondents said they expect to spend less on apparel in the near future than they typically do.

A potentially longer-lasting behavioral change is the accelerated adoption of e-commerce. Even before the pandemic, consumers were increasingly browsing and buying online. In the recovery period, retailers could see spikes in online shopping even in categories that in the past were primarily store-based (such as makeup). It’s also possible that e-commerce will attract consumer segments that previously preferred to shop offline, such as baby boomers and Gen Zers. Post-pandemic, apparel executives expect up to a 13 percent increase in online penetration, according to a survey we conducted in early April. Indeed, retailers in Asia—where precrisis online penetration was much higher than in the United States—are expecting a “sticky” increase in online penetration of three to six percentage points as they reopen stores.

These trends will shape the industry’s next normal and could have profound implications on a retailer’s P&L. Store sales could plummet, fiercer competition and increased operational complexity due to workforce disruptions could contribute to margin compression, and the migration of sales from stores to e-commerce (typically a lower-margin channel for retailers) could further hurt profitability. To illustrate: if online penetration increases by ten percentage points and gross margin falls by one percentage point, driven by increased pricing pressure, retailers could expect store profitability to decline by up to five percentage points (exhibit). A hit to profitability of this magnitude could push a significant number of brick-and-mortar stores into loss-making territory.

About the authors: Praveen Adhi and Andrew Davis are both partners in McKinsey’s Chicago office, where Jai Jayakumar is a consultant; Sarah Touse is an associate partner in the Atlanta office. The authors wish to thank Colleen Baum and Althea Peng for their contributions to this article.

More: https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/retail/

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ANTI-COVID-19 – Cluster anti-crisis shield

The Baltic Sea and Space Cluster has launched the BSSC ANTI-COVID-19 anti-crisis shield. This is a special website on the Cluster’s website www.bssc.pl, where members of the Cluster inform about their activity during the pandemic and offer for other maritime business participants. The portal is also available to other companies and institutions related to maritime economy, education and research of the sea.

Many institutions and enterprises operating in the maritime economy have not slowed their activity despite the pandemic. It changed the forms of operation, implemented security procedures, switched to remote work or activities in smaller teams. Ports and shipyards are still active on the international market. Additional requirements arise, as the clients of these enterprises are often people from outside Poland. The initiative works under the slogan: BSSC Anti-crisis Shield.

The main mission of the BSSC Cluster is to integrate maritime business, science, administration and the community. Cluster BSSC promotes cooperation, commercialization and positioning of our members on international markets. Therefore, the information is in both Polish and English. Members operate under the slogan: We help people and Maritime Business. Photo: Marek Grzybowski

More info: https://glosgdyni.eu/klaster-na-pandemie-anty-covid-19-klastrowa-tarcza-antykryzysowa/

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COVID-19: Win the Fight, Win the Future

The unfolding, global COVID-19 pandemic is a human crisis of historic scale and complexity. It is straining health care systems, government fiscal capacity, and the ability of many organizations to cope with the changes wrought by the virus and the response to it. The level of uncertainty for most leaders is unprecedented, and most of our frameworks for planning and problem solving are unable to manage the geographic variability, uncertainty, and the exponential change brought by the COVID-19 crisis.

In our work to confront this challenge with public and private sector clients worldwide, we have found that many leaders are asking the same set of questions: How should I forecast my revenues? How should I adjust my budget? When will this be over, and when will we return to “normal”? These are good questions, but the reality is, we shouldn’t be asking them at this point. In the wake of so much uncertainty, we should instead focus on framing potential scenarios and use them to develop a robust plan of action.

Three months into the COVID-19 crisis, we are starting to see patterns in its impact on countries and cities, as well as in these areas’ responses. We see three distinct phases. First, there is the “Flatten” phase, in which countries or cities lock down to flatten the virus’s exponential growth curve. Second comes the “Fight” phase, during which a geography “Restarts” its economy while maintaining a low rate of infection, while still running the risk of having to implement further lockdowns. Finally, we are anticipating a “Future” phase, which begins only after a vaccine or highly effective treatment has been developed and deployed.

We have applied this framework on a localized and sector basis and have created different scenarios for each phase to account for the shifting dynamics and complex elements that are part of the COVID-19 landscape.

Three critical insights have emerged from our scenario work:

  • Get ready to Restart. The transition from Flatten to Fight, or what we refer to as a “Restart,” is an intentional policy decision that is made when a set of necessary pre-conditions are met in a given geography. Business leaders cannot control that decision or timing, but they can make sure they are ready to Restart.
  • The Fight will be protracted. The Fight phase is going to be longer than most leaders we have talked to anticipate. We expect that it will be between 12 to 36 months before a vaccine or highly effective treatment can be developed and deployed.
  • The Fight will be expensive. The Fight phase will be more economically challenging than most leaders seem to expect. Because the situation is volatile, consumer and worker confidence has been shaken, and because of the risk of further outbreaks and localized lockdowns, or perhaps even national ones, we envision an ongoing impact to the global economy. Our US-focused scenarios show a potential range of a relatively severe 5% to 20% impact on microeconomic outcomes such as revenues or employment, before accounting for policy interventions and responses, which will strongly influence the end result. 

Part of the strategic challenge is that the effects of COVID-19 will vary significantly by geography and sector. Individual companies will see even greater variation amongst their outcomes during each of the Flatten, Fight, and Future phases. Such variation has been observed in every prior economic crisis, and the uncertainty and multi-phase nature of this crisis may lead to greater disparity than usual, creating even more winners and losers than is typical. Accordingly, we think it is imperative for business leaders to use scenarios with a range of outcomes to develop a plan for their companies to: a) Be ready to Restart; b) Win the Fight; and c) Win the Future. Particularly, we think that winning the Fight phase is crucial because it creates the opportunity to win the Future.

To help companies and societies respond to COVID-19, and recover from it, we offer an approach for framing and developing scenarios, and suggest what they can expect in trying to accomplish these goals.

The Complexity of COVID-19 Demands Systematic Scenario Planning

We cannot predict the future. But we can seek to understand what the future might hold, and what that means for nations, industry sectors, and individual companies. We need scenarios to bound the uncertainty, to help us understand the underlying drivers of outcomes, and for some understanding of how we can shape those outcomes.

The data clearly suggests that very different COVID-19 trajectories have played out around the world. (See Exhibit 1.)

AUTHORS: Marin Gjaja , Lars Fæste , Gerry Hansell , and Doug Hohner

MORE: https://www.bcg.com/en-us/publications/2020

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3 things chief legal officers can do now to become more cyber-savvy

Action #1 Understand the cyber threat environment
The National Council of Information Sharing and Analysis Centers
(ISACs) helps organizations in various industries share information
that can protect their facilities, personnel, and customers from
cyber and physical security threats and other hazards. Members
have access to information and tools to help them mitigate risks
and enhance their cyber resilience.

Action #2 Look into the existing cybersecurity program

Most organizations today have some form of cybersecurity strategy.
While knowing the technical details may be of some value, it can be
more useful for legal executives to understand its scope and, at a high
level, how effectively it addresses cyber risks the organization faces.
In particular, you should be familiar with four areas of the cybersecurity
strategy and the program in which that strategy is executed.
Cyber risk profile
Understand the processes by which cyber risks have been identified
and prioritized for your organization. How often is the profile updated?
How does it account for a quickly evolving threat environment?

Program governance
Assess who across the enterprise is involved in cybersecurity program
oversight. Who sets policies and procedures? What internal controls
are there for compliance? What resources and programs are in place to
predict, detect, and respond to cyber incidents, and how much does
the organization spend on cybersecurity annually? Are the programs
insourced or outsourced? How are employees and business partners
educated and trained about cybersecurity, and how is the effectiveness
of that monitored over time?
Cybersecurity safeguards
Determine what resources, both human and digital, are in place to
defend the organization. How is the cyber perimeter defined? What
security measures protect each type of device and the networks to
which they have access?
Cyber incident response and remediation
Identify existing disaster recovery plans for responding to data
breaches and other cyber incidents and determine if they meet any
applicable industry standards and regulations. If a breach occurs, what
public disclosures and other actions are required? How quickly can the
organization react to shut it down? Do existing plans go far enough not
only in meeting requirements, but also to remediate the issue in such
a way to build additional resilience so it’s not likely to happen again?

Action #3 Apply a legal point of view

With a clearer view of the cyber threat environment and the organization’s program for addressing it, legal executives can look upstream to determine where legal should be involved, both strategically and in discrete activities.
Strategically
Bring a legal perspective to the cyber risk assessment, prioritization, and mitigation process. Have an active voice in how the organization views cyber risk and how key elements of a cybersecurity program address
those risks. As the organization expands its cyber footprint into new geographic areas, stay on top of legal and regulatory implications.
Tactically
As new business initiatives are undertaken (for example, new product development, digital expansion into new markets, thirdparty relationships, and many others), take a seat at the planning table to represent the legal point of view. For example, if an organization allows employees to use company-owned or their own mobile devices for business purposes, review the approach and help establish related parameters for access and usage.
Operationally
Insert legal into the process of monitoring cybersecurity programs. Make sure legal has adequate representation early on in the event of a cyber breach or other incident. Play a more active role in remediation
efforts to help mitigate risk to the organization and prevent similar future
events. To enable more effective strategic, tactical, and operational engagement, consider deeper training in cyber issues for your legal
department or a subset of the department.

MORE: Deloitte Report: Tech Bytes Part 3: Cyber Three things chief legal officers can do now to become more cyber-savvy

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Reaction, Rebound, Recession, and Reimagination

There is opportunity in adversity in every business. It may seem callous to stress opportunity in the midst of a humanitarian crisis, but leaders have an obligation to look ahead, to anticipate and meet new customer needs, to evolve their strategies and organizations, and in so doing sustain the prosperity of their enterprises.

We should not expect that the resolution of the COVID-19 pandemic will be a return to a 2019 reality. For example, SARS is credited with being one of the accelerators for the adoption of e-commerce in China and the rise of Alibaba. Many organizations are understandably focused on reacting to and coping with the short-term challenges presented by the unfolding epidemic. (See Exhibit 1.) But in addition to reaction, they need to focus on three more important Rs: rebound, recession, and reimagination. Beyond individual companies, there is also an opportunity for society as a whole to reimagine norms, behaviors, and platforms for coordination and collaboration.

rebound of demand is inevitable, and using high-frequency data proxies for the movement of goods and people, production, and confidence, we can see that it is already beginning to happen in China. (See Exhibit 2.) Given the complexity of rebooting companies and supply chains at different speeds in different places, the time to begin preparing a rebound strategy is now. Over the past 100 years, epidemics have only temporarily deflected the economic cycle with short, sharp shocks. Of course, this time could be different. A bear market (technically, a 20% decline) does not guarantee a recession but indicates a high probability of one. The most recent expansionary cycle has been one of the longest in recent economic history, and signs of vulnerability were already showing in trade relations, political instability, corporate debt, and other areas. The shock to demand and confidence could easily tip the global economy into a recession.

Prudent companies will prepare for this possibility. Our analysis shows that 14% of companies across all sectors actually grow top and bottom lines during recessions and downturns. Those that flourish share the common traits of preparation, preemption, growth orientation, and long-term transformation. They take a long-term view and place growth bets when competitors are retrenching. And even after the epidemic recedes, and even in the case of recession, there will be opportunities and needs to reimagine business and operating models and also the portfolio of offerings. For the average company, the first casualty of a crisis is imagination. But those that shape and benefit from the future will be those that can imagine it.

More: https://www.bcg.com/pl-pl/

Authors:  Martin Reeves, Managing Director & Senior Partner, Chairman of the BCG Henderson Institute, San Francisco; Lars Fæste, Managing Director & Senior Partner, Hong Kong; Kevin Whitaker, Economist, New York;  Mark Abraham, Managing Director & Senior Partner, Seattle