Adapting to change: how do you reach your customers now?

Promotional Business Feature: Pictured - Ryan Hancock, Hazlewoods
Ryan Hancock Hazlewoods

Adapting to change: how do you reach your customers now?

The arrival of COVID-19 and subsequent closure or slowdown of many businesses has provided a new landscape for business strategy, with many now having to reassess their routes to market.

To continue providing businesses with advice that will support a #BusinessForTomorrow, Hazlewoods business advisers consider that now should be the time to reflect whether the traditional routes to market are still viable or whether changes need to be made.

Auditing existing routes

A focused audit of the existing routes to market will highlight which are no longer suitable in the current climate or even into the future, which continue to be viable or can be adapted to become so, and help to identify gaps where a totally new route to traditional or different markets can be devised.

Opening new channels may seem a daunting prospect, but by avoiding putting all your eggs in one basket, this will help to mitigate against risk and protect your business for the future.

International trade

It is possible that now more than ever is a great time to look at international trade as a possible new source market for business. With the different social distancing and lockdown rules in almost every country, there will be opportunities available that have not previously been considered.

Gloucestershire-based manufacturer, Stewart Golf, is a great example of this. Many golf courses in the United States have remained open throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, but social distancing guidelines have meant that the use of rented buggies is either not allowed or restricted, so walking has been the only option left to those who wanted to continue playing. This has resulted in a surge in demand for golf trolleys across the USA; Stewart Golf USA website sales for the months of April and May 2020 were up by an astonishing 886% to a level of sales that was more than double that of the entirety of 2019.

Although Stewart Golf already had a well-established distribution network in the United States, this remains a noteworthy example of how the differing international restrictions may be providing a surge in your sector in a different country.

As an independent member of HLB International, Hazlewoods has links with professional business advisers in over 150 countries worldwide and would be happy to discuss potential new markets with you and your business.

Traditional versus digital

Despite the closure of physical shops and the surge in online trading, which has been rapid and feels like it may be an irreversible change, the reality is, consumer habits are constantly evolving, online shopping has been on the increase for years and it has been well publicised that shops and stores have been struggling to cover rent and other overhead costs associated with the properties from which they operate.

During lockdown consumers have become more comfortable with shopping online which, we could presume, will only accelerate the trend away from physical locations and toward the virtual. In particular, consumers are becoming more comfortable with buying big-ticket products such as cars, kitchens and bathrooms online, which makes a dramatic difference to how these businesses reach their customers. Retail businesses will likely need to reassess whether having a physical presence on the high street will continue to be a viable option in the future.

Furthermore, with bars, restaurants and cafes having their capacities reduced to an estimated 70% as the 1-metre distancing rule is adopted, this not only affects the businesses themselves, but all of the businesses in that supply chain.

The traditional ways of operating for many businesses will go on in some form, and the Government released guidelines for businesses from a variety of sectors on how to do this safely, which can be found in our previous article, here.

What is becoming clear is that traditional routes to market are no longer the only or necessarily the most secure routes, and all businesses need to take what has been learnt during lockdown and apply that to their future business strategies and direction. Some of the routes taken during lockdown will stick, others will likely evolve further but, certainly, standing still is not an option.

If you would like to discuss your options for your routes to market, please get in touch with Ryan Hancock at ryan.hancock@hazlewoods.co.uk or call 01242 237661.

If you would like to discuss any of our other #BusinessForTomorrow content or have suggestions for content you would like to read that could help you and your business now and in the future, please let us know: www.hazlewoods.co.uk/contact-us

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