Socrates wisely said, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but building on the new.” Isn’t that exactly where we are in retail right now? After the world came to a screeching halt for months due to Covid-19, the old ways of conceptualizing, manufacturing and launching a new product were no longer feasible. Travel slowed, and most trade shows and major launch events had been cancelled.
With so much unpredictability in consumers’ habits and challenges with social distancing, many companies have held off on launching new products. But, even with all the uncertainty, retail must press forward and build on the new. Here’s how our company, T-ROC, successfully launched two new products/services to the market during the pandemic. One of them was actually spurred by the pandemic, and another was inspired by it.
It takes a quick entrepreneurial mindset to launch a product during a crisis. You’ll need to think opportunistically and act with integrity. We are always vigilant in studying the current situation and market trends, but during the pandemic, we also prioritized our customers. We asked them what they needed or what problems they were facing during the quarantine. It turns out, a pain point for one of our big-box retail customers was keeping up with the high demand of assembly during the shutdown. While stuck at home, people were spending more time in their backyards grilling and playing with their kids or enjoying outdoor activities like riding a bike. What presented itself was something totally new for our company: the assembly of bikes and eventually barbeques, toys and outdoor furniture. Since we had never done this before, we needed to make sure we were capable of properly providing the new service. We needed to do the job right and better than others. That meant identifying the proper resources and assembling an A-team that could make this service happen in a short time.
Once you’ve identified what the need is and if your company is capable of solving it, you must move quickly on developing the product or service. The urgency is today. If you don’t address it quickly, the chance will pass you by and someone else will seize the opportunity. Within 30 days, we set up a general assembly team in 60 locations in the Northeast, and it’s now a permanent business. We were able to show a lot of value to our customers by moving nimbly, and ultimately built a stronger, trusting relationship.
During these unprecedented times, you want to be sensitive to the needs of your customers when launching a product. Many are suffering financially, and can’t or won’t splurge on extra luxuries. Before launching, ask yourself, “Is this product priced right for this market?” You don’t want customers to feel that you’re tone-deaf and don’t understand the current financial climate. See what the competition is doing and how they’re priced and look at your costs. You want to make a profit, but don’t gouge. We’ve all seen the price gouging during the pandemic, some of which was due to supply and demand. Customers are watching and will remember what you do. Adjusting during these times will go a long way in future sales.
How to safely debut a new product is probably the biggest problem facing retailers right now. No one can fathom holding in-store pop-ups with crowds of people touching products. We’ve been forced to think outside traditional launches and store parties. The second product our company was able to launch during the pandemic addresses that fear of person-to-person contact. We created a virtual interactive brand ambassador or VIBA. It’s basically a standing TV display that connects with a virtual associate for a “Facetime-like” experience where customers can ask questions or view a product demonstration. It was our way of respecting social distancing, while still being able to launch and sell retail products. Since people are now on their phones and computers more than ever, many retailers will need to pivot to Zoom, Instagram or Facebook Live to launch new products. Another solution is hosting social-distanced events with a few key media or influencers in attendance to garner excitement, which will get your products in front of their followers. It’s all about reimagining launch strategies and connecting with customers in a new way.
You want to be there for your customers and solving a pain point will bring loyalty in the future. Ready to launch? Go for it.
To learn more about Brett Beveridge, his company, T-ROC Global, his awards, speaking opportunities and upcoming ForbesBooks launch, visit www.brettbeveridge.com.
The Revenue Optimization Companies (T-ROC Global) is home to four sales solutions companies that enable clients to fulfill all of their sales performance needs. The companies are: The Retail Outsource (TRO), Mobile Insight (MI), The Consumer Insight (TCI), and SYMBITS.
Brett Beveridge is the founder and chief executive officer for The Revenue Optimization Companies (T-ROC Global). Beveridge is a serial entrepreneur who builds businesses from the ground up. Since founding T-ROC Global, the company has evolved to become a leader in the wireless, electronics, software and retail industries.