The economic impact of COVID-19 has hit the retail sector hard. In the past month alone, several large retailers have filed for bankruptcy. Here is an abbreviated list.
State Stores (Goody's Palais Royal, Bealls, Peebles, and Gordmans)
That is an astounding list, as well as a significant amount of soon to become available commercial real estate.
Since credit unions are also retailers, what should they be thinking about as they re-open to maximize success?
1. The retail world will never be the same.
Accept it, pivot into, and embrace it.
2. Become masters at mastering change.
Change will keep on coming and coming fast. As Mara Mara Devitt, senior partner at retail design firm McMillan Doolittle said in a recent National Retail Federation article
"The rules will change again, and expectations will change — which has always been the case in retail.”
Flexible design means that instead of making permanent bricks-and-mortar changes, things like store layout can be easily modified when consumer demand takes a different turn.
3. Embrace your online channel.
This does not mean merely sending emails. Look for new ways to engage this channel. Is this the time to launch a savings or financial management gaming app? Build trust and education and dialogue with those who have just embraced the most agile of channels.
4. Communicate safety efforts.
In these uncertain times, it is vital to communicate what members can expect when they engage with you in all your channels, but especially the physical one.
5. Become a place of purpose
This one feels most aligned to credit union missions. How can credit unions use their retail space to become a place of purpose? One idea is to help be a donation center for charities that are over-whelmed by recent donations. This is where partnering with the community is mission-critical, what does your community need right now, and how can you take what you have and use in a new way?
6. Evaluate the need for physical branches
Does your credit union need to re-open all its branches? Now is a great time to analyze
the importance of the physical channel and if the expenses are worth the ROI.
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