Doubling Down on Efficiency and eCommerce During a Crisis
May 03, 2020
An Unexpected Change Happens...What's Your Next Move?
Like most businesses with e-commerce platforms, the Calendar Club of Canada is experiencing an explosion of interest.
Calendar Club supplies the much sought-after calendars, games, toys, and puzzles that we all enjoy purchasing at the end of the year for ourselves, or our loved ones.
They’re the “fun store” that pops up in malls and shopping centres just before the Christmas shopping season and then disappear a few weeks into the new year.
Just like other seasonal businesses, one of the benefits of being a fourth-quarter company is that they are one of the few organizations designed for change in the economy; like the COVID-19 shutdown.
Stuart Quinn, CHRP, is the Leasing Manager for the Calendar Club of Canada and it’s his job to work closely with malls and shopping centres to organize, negotiate and arrange the popping up and popping down of each location every year.
The business sees 90% of sales between October and the end of February and their natural revenue cycles sustain them through the ‘off-season’.
This means that Calendar Club was in the process of dialling down its physical operations just as government mandated closures were starting to ramp up.
That said, while there has always been a small e-commerce offering for Calendar Club, this shut down has provided them with a view into the future and refocused their efforts on the online portfolio they have developed.
If, for example, the shutdown extends well into next year (thus preventing their physical stores from opening up as planned in October) they will have had the entire off-season to focus on their online store and work to ensure that any losses are mitigated.
Refocusing The Business
In the initial weeks of stay at home mandates, Calendar Club was forced to lay off a portion of its staff until more information was available to make decisions.
Thankfully, they have been able to bring back warehouse and support staff, and have made the necessary changes to process and safety measures so that team members could work together safely.
The quarantine has created a surge in demand for the puzzles and games that Calendar Club sells, which means an increase in need for shipping and warehouse staff - which is a good thing!
However this pressure on existing systems and processes has brought to light a few areas that need to be improved upon and Quinn is using this time to focus on how they can streamline processes, improve technology and reduce redundancy and waste.
It’s also providing him with an opportunity to look very closely at historically underperforming locations and make decisions about which of the 14 locations he manages, may need to close.
This analysis of performance, cost and revenue will help him to determine where he can reduce current investments so that they can be redeployed in other areas of the business.
From human resources to distribution, this off-season for Quinn is a chance to reflect on where the business has an opportunity to go, and grow, so that as they strengthen the e-commerce side of the business, he can ensure that any physical locations are located and operated with intention as opposed to having ‘always been in that location’.
Successful Digital Leadership
Like many organizations, Quinn’s team is working together digitally which means that his leadership style has had to adapt to the circumstances as well.
Instead of allowing the temptation to micromanage to take hold, Quinn is focused on leading his team to focus on improvements, areas for innovation, and general health and wellbeing during this drastic moment of change.
He points out that situations like COVID-19 and the sudden work from home mandate can highlight deficiencies in communication, information transfer and legacy technology, so it’s imperative that he and his team take this time to address it.
All team members are encouraged to talk about improving areas of the business that they see opportunities in, as well as to celebrate every step towards success.
While it can be tempting to get serious about tackling these challenges, it’s still important to recognize and remember that we are all dealing with this change together, so a focus on mental health and a sense of team unity is crucial.
Leaders have an opportunity to make a real difference for their teams as we all navigate through this situation so, regardless of what type of business you have, strong leadership and helping your team through this time will determine how you come out of it on the other side.