Pyrotec, May 2020: An extensive report published in partnership by Deloitte Africa and BrandsEye reveals the insights into the impact of COVID-19 on consumer sentiment in South Africa’s grocery retail sector. The report, HOW COVID-19 HAS AFFECTED SOUTH AFRICAN GROCERY RETAIL CONSUMER SENTIMENT, analyses social media posts and other online engagements in the run-up to, as well as during, the initial 21-day phase and two-week lockdown extension.
Between March 9 and April 30, 2020, BrandsEye collected social media mentions relating to COVID-19 and retail giants, Checkers, Pick n Pay, Shoprite, Spar, and Woolworths.
The report highlights some of the pre-lockdown wins and losses for these retailers. Wins include praise for delivery and online shopping services. The retailers who made their staff-related initiatives, such as bonuses, the public were also perceived in a positive light.
Where retailers missed the mark were operational issues relating to staff, HR, general facilities, including the provision of PPE, staff treatment, execution of COVID-19 initiatives (such as different hours for the elderly), delivery service failures, and queuing, as well as pricing issues.
Some of the initial 21-day lockdown wins and losses included retailers receiving complaints relating to pricing (changes and taking advantage of scarcity) and how they treated their staff, including the provision of PPE. This generally impacted the customer experience negatively. On the other hand, wins included successful delivery and online services in the initial lockdown. A significant spike in positive sentiment came from initiatives where retailers announced executive pay cuts to subsidise workers and other charitable causes.
Business Implications for Retailers
What the report also reveals is that COVID-19 has fast-tracked the need for digital transformation in retail, highlighting the necessity to operate and serve customers differently. Retailers need to adjust how they approach customer experience, employees, supply chain, and category management, as well as hygiene.
Technologies are part of everyday life and consumers find it necessary, convenient, and safe to use these for many activities, including shopping. Digital transformation has changed customer expectations, choices, demands, and rates of change. Retailers can adapt to many of their business functions to make an impact.
Impact on the front end: Customer experience, merchandising and promotions, loyalty programs, pricing, and point of sale.
Impact on the back end: supply chain, logistics and warehousing, finance, procurement, product planning, and people.
COVID-19 has and will continue to demand adjustments from retailers, with changes in customer experience, product and retail environment, hygiene, and employee engagement all requiring review.
The Pyrotec brands are perfectly placed and have more than 50 years’ experience in assisting retailers and brand owners to recalibrate customer experiences and the evolution of supply chain management. The report highlights that customers are increasingly sensitive to pricing, stock levels, product choices, and where their products and produce comes from, and they also demand convenience, such as delivery services. Retailers can leverage these demands to differentiate themselves.
To learn how Pyrotec’s brands can assist retailers and brand owners to adapt to the changing retail environment created by the COVID-19 pandemic, visit www.pyrotec.co.za