Gertjan and his team have been busy. Never have they had to be as agile. When the pandemic hit, Gertjan said the biggest thing that affected the change in Worldpack’s product offerings to its customers was driven by the company’s Service with Guts mission. He says: “No-one knew what the impact was going to be and we made a point of quickly speaking to customers to find out exactly what they needed. We care about our customers – that’s the essence of the Service with Guts mission. When the requests came in for hand sanitiser and face masks – and lots of it, our priorities switched too. Having never supplied this as ‘normal’ stock, we had to source large volumes of stock and make it available quickly.
“That is where being part of the Bunzl Group really helped. We have major purchasing power and direct and indirect connections with suppliers that we could access quickly, to ensure we could source these products. Then it was a case of updating the internal systems so customers could access these new ‘Covid’ products through their web portals. We also made a huge effort to communicate to customers about what our plans were and what we had sourced on their behalf following those initial conversations. Within 2-3 weeks, we had reacted to extreme demand and made massive changes within the supply chain.”
Getting ready for the new normal in 2021
As we move towards the new year, Gertjan points out that our new way of living – “with a mask in every pocket and hand sanitiser everywhere you look” – is going to be here for a while. Masks, gloves, Perspex screens and hand sanitiser are now normal, standard products, along with 2 meter spacing floor stickers, but what does he see changing for retailers in 2021?
He says: “We are really proud of the way we can adapt to changing circumstances. What we have witnessed over the past few months and I believe it is a trend that is set to continue, is retailers being smarter with stock management. Retailers who have combined their offline offering with their e-commerce offering and have embraced the ‘Buy Online, Ship From Store’ mindset have jumped ahead with stock management. Instead of having lots of stock in stores that are currently shut and low volumes of stock in the e-commerce warehouses, some retailers have been extremely efficient in getting staff to prepare and fulfil e-commerce orders in stores when they aren’t busy and there is little footfall.”
Customers get the same, all important omnichannel offering but in the back end, there is scope to ease stock management. With the uncertainty of how long the pandemic measures will be in place, more stores are switching to this new way of fulfilling orders. Worldpack has always delivered sales packaging to individual stores but now, as well as bags, it is also shipping tape, boxes, wrapping paper and more traditional packaging resources in addition to sending this to centralised e-commerce warehouses.
Gertjan also believes that the trend for more eco packaging will continue to grow. He has witnessed the increase in sustainability in his 12-year Worldpack career, particularly after the change in the EU legislation four years ago. He comments: “The interest in sustainability is a constant with customers. What has changed is the focus brands are putting on greener alternatives and how they stack up with availability and price. It has been great to see that this focus hasn’t dropped off the agenda with everything else that has happened this year.”
Consumer Buying Boom
Plans for 2021 include preparing for when and if we get a vaccine that works. Gertjan remains upbeat among the talk of a wider economic recession. Worldpack is shipping smaller quantities to clients, such as fewer shopping bags. With stores not open, there is less demand and he believes that this is lost revenue that won’t catch up. However, he thinks part of Worldpack’s role is to listen to customers and be ready to move quickly again for the consumer shopping boom, that will happen when everyone feels safe to be out shopping en masse again.
He adds: “Retailers are going through a really tough time at the moment but there will be a huge explosion in consumer retail when life returns to normal. After being cooped up for several months, there will be a huge interest in everyone shopping for new outfits and getting their glad rags on to catch up with family and friends, that they haven’t seen in person because of the lockdowns. Our job will be to pay attention and react just like we did earlier this year – offering the same exceptional service and supporting customers in better times.”
Worldpack is trusted by some of the world’s biggest brands help with proactive stock management and detailed insights and in the current challenging circumstances, we are pushing the boat out to help retailers be as efficient and streamlined as possible. As part of our Service with Guts mission, we want to make your life easier, so give us a ring on +31 (0) 88 494 20 80 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org