Thriving during COVID can seem a foreign phrase, but our industry has done just that. We have accepted the challenge of doing more, while doing it better in order to ensure that as many of our retailers survive while many other stores around us shutter.
What makes the adult biz so adept at surviving and thriving during these times?
We are a unified group, a solid moving unit, whether we want to accept it or not. Our work helps not only our own companies’ profit, but also improves the quality of life and sexual health of our customers. Essentially when we help ourselves, we tend to help each other as well. As companies, we prioritize our customers’ needs over our own wants. For example, as a manufacturer, we may not have a product you are looking for but can probably help you find that item by sending you to a friendly competitor. We can help and build each other’s businesses up instead of tearing each other down, and work as a cohesive unit to help a customer. Stay involved in our industry news via Facebook Groups P3, SPAM and the XBIZ Retail Community Group to make sure you are fluid not only in your own business, but also to stay on top of the industry’s hot topics to keep engaged and involved. This is what allows us to survive — immersion in all things industry-related.
Store, office and warehouse morale can be challenging to support and manage on a regular basis, let alone when you throw a global pandemic on top of it. Look at your traditional morale activities and see how you can modify them to be more impactful to your staff and team. People’s physical needs have changed but so have their emotional needs. Half of us are operating on fight-or-flight mode; take a minute to make sure your teams are grounded. Stability and support are important, but they need to feel genuine and effective. Manufacturers are readily available to help you with this issue. Let us do trainings, send prizes, do contests, run more spiffs, host virtual game nights, etc. If you do not have any fresh ideas or want to try something different, ask your distributors and manufacturers for help or inspiration. We learn and grow together in times like this. That is what makes us different.
Store inventory can be tricky during these times. Most stores are reporting significant increases in business and are having a hard time keeping up with inventory. Flex your buying power so your on-hand inventory can keep up with your extra traffic and shopping. With so many products out of stock, take this time to test and try new inventory. There may be several items that surprise you, and potentially outperform what you thought were top sellers. If you have concerns about trying something new, verbalize them to your distributors or manufacturers. My guess is most of them will work with you if something does not perform in your store that you were counting on. Dealing with back-order issues? Keep a log of top sellers in the store that are out, along with a customer list of who came in looking. Most people may not even realize it is an option to get called when their item of choice is back in stock. The extra effort for customer satisfaction is what makes us different.
Virtual trade shows seem too overwhelming to do online? Ask your distributor or manufacturer for a private online training customized to your store’s needs. If you don’t have the ability to gather everyone online, ask for printouts of product education sheets to build a binder of info. As manufacturers we are so happy to help with this and provide this type of retail service. Plus, hosting trainings are usually a great way for your team to get free product. All you need to do is ask! That is why we are different; we stay connected through thick and thin.
So, as we have this time of uncertainty during COVID-19, know this: We are different because we care far beyond what our jobs require, and that is what will ensure that we continue to thrive.