8 key tips for retail companies amid COVID-19 crisis

Brand advisor Joe Jackman has helped many big businesses reinvent themselves over the years.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused most businesses around the world to close their doors, and the ones that are still trying to sell products and services have to adapt their strategies to the current climate.

Consumer brand advisor Joe Jackman, who has helped many companies – such as Dave & Buster’s, Duane Reade and Old Navy – reinvent their businesses throughout his career, has advice for retailers during this trying time. The founder of Jackman Reinvents, a firm that transforms businesses into culturally relevant, high growth companies, works directly with CEOs and private equity partners to drive change. The firm works with the likes of JCPenney, Staples, Signet Jewelers and Flow Water, among other clients.

Check out Jackman’s tips for retail companies amid the COVID-19 crisis.


1. Time to be bold.
Extraordinary times create extraordinary opportunities. If you have the wherewithal and stomach for big bold moves – like launching a killer value proposition, or changing the game competitively – make them now.

2. Have empathy for customers, not competitors.
In times of crisis, market share will be shaken loose. Focus on what you need to do to win share now.

3. Time to buy more customers.
Customer acquisition costs are decreasing (media, search), creating a rare and affordable opportunity to double down.

4. Rethink your employee value proposition.
This is a time of change and great talent will be in play. Now is the moment to sharpen your employee proposition, inclusive of purpose and brand, to ensure you are attracting and retaining the talent you need to win. Within this, rethink your expectations around office space and work-from-away flexibility. The grand experiment we are living through is demonstrating we don’t need physical space as much as we thought we did, or at least not as much of it, and the perceived value of flexibility will skyrocket. 

5. Embrace digital.
If you have been hedging on making further investments into digital experience and commerce platforms, get over it and move fast. We have officially crossed the Rubicon on the digital/direct economy.

6. Get scrappy and let customers guide you.
Evolve your proposition and customer experience in real time, rapidly deploying new ideas and workarounds when the ‘old ways’ are no longer possible or ideal. Engage your customers directly through social channels and heed the feedback, and don’t worry about things being perfect. Balance getting it right with getting on with it.

7. Stand for something.
The shift from a ‘value economy’ to a ‘values economy’ was already underway.  As we become more aware of our own personal and collective social responsibilities our expectations of others is rising, and the same will hold true for brands. The values bar will be much higher coming out of this, therefore brands that stand for more than just the functional selling of goods and/or services will stand out and resonate more deeply.

8. Put a team on it.
Pull together your best and biggest thinkers from across the organization and workshop what comes next: how can you come out of this stronger? Slay the sacred cows. Have them look at everything, from new offerings and acquisitions to reinventing the entire go-to-market. Use the analysis, ideas and scenarios they generate to refresh your strategy and activation plan, and do it fast while your competitors are recovering.

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