For consumer and retail leaders, the shift from brick and mortar to digital strategies was already top of mind – as we highlighted in the Consumer and Retail trend within our Eight Executive Trends for 2020.

The COVID 19 pandemic rapidly accelerated this trend around the globe. In Latin America, it’s been a giant leap for businesses of all shapes, sizes and sectors, and in many cases, going digital is a question of survival.

In our region, more than six months after lockdown was first declared, many countries are yet to emerge from the cocoon: consumers and companies still face confinement, curfews and containment at airports, businesses and social venues remain firmly closed. So how can business leaders in Latin America bridge the digital gap and raise team and client morale?

STRENGTHENING THE SUPPLY CHAIN

From major chains to SMEs, companies across the region have seen the lion’s share of their business shift to e-commerce. Even heavyweight players who attributed 15-20% of their business to online sales pre-pandemic now register figures of 60-70%. This has naturally placed a strain on supply chains since March. Many firms in the region don’t do delivery and ongoing curfews have led to store closures, queues and backlogs.

Companies with solid digital platforms and communications strategies have fared best, notably in the food and beverage sector, where customers can, for example, bypass the distributor and Whatsapp their order to the factory to collect.

READING THE REALITY CHECK

Moving from onsite to remote work has also made team management complex, and many Lat-Am companies had neither the resources nor the infrastructures to support restructuring and retraining. In Peru, many employees simply don’t have a computer at home. Some companies have taken the initiative to provide employees with IT equipment, while others have kept in touch via phone. Beyond a doubt, HR teams in the region are working harder than ever to boost morale, optimize engagement and soothe uncertainty among their employees.

New hires are finding digital skills, soft skills and flexibility are highly sought after. Candidates and companies are having to be as flexible as they can and consider roles that they might previously have not.

THE DAVIDS AND THE GOLIATHS

With tourism, leisure and fashion taking the hardest knocks in the region, major players - from department stores to home appliance firms are closing their doors. But every cloud has a silver lining: some smaller restaurant and convenience stores are flourishing by offering take out services and essential goods like rice, drinks and cleaning products. Delivery may still be off the cards, but tenacity is firmly on the menu.

As we slowly recover and recalibrate, I’m convinced that our courage collaboration and creativity will see us through.

If you’d like to chat about consumer and retail trends in Latin America, feel free to drop me a line.

Rodreigo Escudero

Rodrigo Escudero
Partner, Peru
[email protected]

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