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Pandemic… Such a scary thing to think about, but so real at the same time. COVID -19 came into our life unexpectedly, although it left strong consequences that we are still dealing with, four years later. From people being stuck at home for 2 months to having to adjust too working from home and then to come back to the office after already being accustomed to being around their families 24/7.

Retail is one of the sectors that has been impacted the most by the COVID-19 pandemic. The multi-million-dollar company like Ralph Lauren and Apple had to adjust their distribution channels in order to stay competitive on the market while dealing with the consequences of a pandemic. The article “The Pandemic Takes the Toll on Polo Ralph Lauren” states: “In connection with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Company has experienced varying degrees of business disruptions and periods of closure of its stores, distribution centers, and corporate facilities, as have the Company’s wholesale customers, licensing partners, suppliers, and vendors. During the first quarter of Fiscal 2021, the majority of 

the Company’s stores in key markets were closed for an average of 8 to 10 weeks, resulting in significant adverse impacts to its operating results. Although nearly all of the Company’s stores were reopened by the end of the first quarter of Fiscal 2021, the majority are operating at limited hours and customer capacity levels in accordance with local health guidelines, with traffic remaining challenged”. Visit https://www.calcbench.com/blog/post/625531486245961728/pandemic-takes-a-toll-on-ralph-polo-lauren to find out more about the state of the company in 2020.

Although Ralph Lauren was put in a very unexpected and hard to deal with situation, the company did not give up. They put the well-being of their customers and employees as their #1 priority and even allocated $10 million for an emergency relief to help their employees with any expenses. 

When it comes to adjusting the distribution channels the company took the following steps: 

  1. Shift to e-commerce: with the stores being closed for an extensive period of time, the company had to quickly adjust to online shopping in order to stay successful. According to Lara Ramos, Ralph Lauren has gained 4 millions of new customers during the lockdown back in 2020 according to the article at https://www.yourdigitalresource.com/post/how-ralph-lauren-was-able-to-gain-4-million-new-customers-during-the-pandemic. Also, do not forget to visit Mrs. Lara’s LinkedIn page and read more interesting facts about marketing in the recent past. https://www.linkedin.com/in/laraslramos/?originalSubdomain=ca
  2. Store closure and reduced foot traffic: all of the Ralph Lauren stores were closed for 3 months, and even after reopening the stores had limited hours of operation which led to less foot traffic in the store. Although, that did not stop Ralph Lauren. The company rolled out a More Ways to Shop program which allowed customers to shop from the convenience of their own home utilizing Zoom for interaction with the store associate. Ralph Lauren also started offering concierge service which allowed guests to have one on one interaction with the associate, avoid the crowds, and not have to worry about having to find a parking space during business hours. 
  3. International Distribution Disruption: The pandemic disrupted global supply chains and logistics, leading to challenges in distributing Ralph Lauren products internationally. Restrictions on international travel and trade made these challenges even harder to overcome.  The demand was also unpredictable, during the pandemic which meant that Ralph Lauren had to adjust its production and distribution processes to match fluctuating consumer demand and avoid overstocking or stockouts.

Overall, “Ralph Lauren’s distribution channels weave a seamless tapestry, connecting global elegance with local charm, ensuring our iconic designs reach every corner of the world with unparalleled grace and distinction.” Life is a mixture of good and bad and you can never predict what the future holds, although, our main job as marketers is to act proactive, never give up, and be able to navigate through the storm without losing the traction. Ralph Lauren is a great example on how to survive the pandemic and still stay in the top 10 most profitable brands on the market. But what lessons have you learned from Ralph Lauren?

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