Alon Ghelber
Alon Ghelber

The pandemic forced retail to go online. Now what?

Collage by Alon Ghelber with photos from Pexels and Freepik. License: No attribution needed; free to use.
Collage by Alon Ghelber.

Many retail companies in Israel have had to move their sales operations online, with many challenges and new opportunities.

Every time I drive from Yuvalim, the tiny Northern Israeli village I live in, to the nearby commercial area, I pass by the headquarters of Delta Galil. I drive by almost every day; not only when I need to shop for groceries, but also when I want to visit my favorite hummus place, which, to be honest, happens quite frequently.

Delta Galil is a major manufacturer of underwear and activewear that serves dozens of notable international brands. Headquartered in Israel, it operates all over the world, employing over 20,000 people.

When I drive by, I sometimes happen to think about how the past year was transformative for clothing retailers.

In 2020, due to pandemic lockdowns and store closures, all retail companies were forced to move at least part of their operations online. Companies that were previously selling most of their products in retail stores suddenly had to change strategy and dive into the complex eCommerce market. That is no small feat.

eCommerce comes with a series of challenges that cannot be solved overnight: Is the website operational and easy to navigate? How is the online checkout process? Are we able to handle shipping and delivery? Is there a good online customer support in place? These are just some of the questions retail companies have had to answer over the last year.

I think that the COVID-19 pandemic, in many ways, catalyzed a process that was meant to happen anyway. The world is increasingly becoming more digital, and major parts of our lives (our jobs, our finances, our shopping…) now take place online. What the pandemic did was to force this process to take place much faster and with no previous notice.

Last week, my company Revuze hosted Dominque Seau, the CEO of Eminence, on an episode of our podcast. Eminence is a European underwear brand that is part of the Delta Galil group. Seau talked about how COVID-19 affected the shopping experience and how today companies can use new tools to analyze the market and make business decisions.

“We used to anticipate trends using the rear-view mirror,” Seau said, referring to the pre-COVID market. “We would look at market research, although there was always a long delay between the time the study was done and the moment we could analyze the results.”

Today, he explained, everything is changing. Amazon is like the window of a store that changes by the minute, adjusting prices and product offerings in real-time.

“It’s important that brands stop relying only in the rear-view mirror, but also invest in early-warning systems,” Seau concluded. We need to rely on radars that help us identify growing trends and understand what customers seek.

It has not been easy. In 2020, many people lost their jobs and many businesses suffered large losses. However, we need to keep looking ahead, seizing every opportunity we see, and relying on brand new technologies to get back on our feet and run even faster than before.

At the end of the day, aren’t we the start-up nation?

About the Author
Alon Ghelber is the Chief Marketing Officer at Revuze. He also works as a marketing consultant for VC sand is a member of the Forbes Business Council. He is also the founder and manager of the LinkedIn groups “Start Up Jobs in Israel” and “High Tech Café.”
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