Over 30 owners and directors of multi-channel retail brands came together in different Tapestry briefings during April and May on Zoom to share experiences and ideas on how to trade and market in our changed world.

David Lockwood, Tapestry Director Analytics gives a round-up of what we learnt by saying:

Most in the direct to consumer space seem to be trading well through the last few weeks of lockdown. Some fashion brands (especially footwear) are still having a difficult time, but even here the level of decline has diminished. Those who have seen triple digit growth have mostly adjusted (or are adjusting) to absorb the demand and those with wide product ranges have adjusted their messaging to be more category appropriate.

So our minds turned towards the future, and these were among the questions we are being asked: 

  • When would we be able to re-open physical retail?
  • How will we cope with seasonal spikes if social distancing is still limiting warehousing?
  • When will our staff come back into the office?
  • How will that work?
  • What will Covid mean for Autumn/Winter demand?
  • How do I run a socially distanced photo shoot?

While the answers to these questions varied widely between those we are talking to, the overwhelming feedback was that while “nobody knows” and “you can’t be sure of anything”, you must keep your options open for as long as you possibly can. Businesses that are used to planning months in advance are now trying to be significantly more agile. They are pushing their suppliers to be part of the solution with smaller and more frequent stock orders, later media deadlines and more flexible warehousing. It feels to me like it will be difficult to walk away from the freedom this new flexibility is giving to many companies.

In general, delivery of goods has been easier than many feared and the majority of services holding up well. However many have experienced issues with Royal Mail services, with companies sending perishables through them most impacted. The latest reports are that things are improving here too.

Most are reporting that almost all media is responding as well or better than before, with some of the more measurable channels showing significantly increased interactions and dwell time. There also seems to be a shortening of the demand curve on some channels. Perhaps this is because purchase decisions aren’t be side-tracked by the daily commute/going out? The great news for those trading well and wanting to generate additional demand is that there are some incredible media deals around. From influencers and display through to TV and inserts, for many there has never been a better time for testing new channels. 

Businesses with hundreds (or thousands) of additional new customers are forming distinct marketing plans for these to ensure appropriate messaging. Those that have struggled to maintain service levels under unprecedented demand levels are working out how best to communicate a message of apology.

Using your network of friends and business contacts has been vital for many in helping shape their response to this crisis, sometimes the best ideas are borrowed!