Like many other retailers, Bi-Rite was preparing for significant sales declines when the COVID-19 pandemic hit but with sales soaring over the last couple of months, forecasting and stock shortages have become the biggest challenges, Bi-Rite’s Hamza Hussein told Appliance Retailer in a recent video interview.
“When we originally started talking about COVID-19, there were discussions around doom and gloom. We were talking up to 30% declines in business and I think the one uniform consensus was that everyone was going to see a decline,” he said.
“As a result, forecasting for all categories was respective of that decline. I don’t think anybody realised that we would go the complete opposite way so forecasts and stock shortages are the biggest hurdle that we are facing right now. We talk about the shift from panic buying to comfort buying and as a result, sales are across all categories so continuity of stock is our biggest challenge at the moment.
“Some of the challenges will end up as changes within our business and the way we do business. For example, contactless trade – it’s not only contactless delivery but we have seen an uplift in online sales, phone sales, email sales and online chat due to people spending more time at home and more time on their desktops.”
Hussein said as we create different habits, the challenges we face can now be seen as opportunities.
“It would be hard to find a business that hasn’t taken these opportunities and invested more in their online business.
“Our industry is very relationship-driven with a lot of people flying between states visiting back and forth which has all been put to a stop, so training and communication has been another challenge. I think video calls will become more prevalent and travel may be minimised and video calls will become the norm.
“I am sure in a couple of months we will have totally different challenges that we didn’t see coming. It’s been an interesting few months and I think we have some interesting months ahead.”