COVID-19 Retail Slowdown: What Retailers and Brands Can Do to Keep Business Moving

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The outbreak of a global pandemic has led to fear, uncertainty, and doubt across the entire globe and the economy. The U.S. and other countries are now attempting to “flatten the curve” of the rising coronavirus infections by limiting gathering sizes and closing public spaces including malls, restaurants, and businesses deemed non-essential. Retailers and brands are left wondering what could happen next as global health experts suggest the worst is yet to come.

Meanwhile, business must go on, including in the inherently challenging and competitive retail industry. Fortunately, First Insight can help businesses make product decisions quickly and accurately and allow supply chains to keep moving despite the global health crisis.

Here’s How:

Digital Product Testing:

Physical samples are harder to come by now that most of the global manufacturing workforce faces health challenges. Manufacturing and shipping have slowed dramatically and store traffic has fallen significantly, thus making in-store product testing nearly impossible.

First Insight’s predictive analytics and artificial intelligence platform enables retailers and brands to keep moving despite the trying times. Our customers can sustainably test all forms of product images including 2D and 3D CADs on our platform—receiving accurate and predictive results in 24 to 48 hours. The test results predict which products will perform the best, give recommendations on setting initial price points and buy quantities, and provide qualitative feedback from respondents for both context and design improvements.

Product Prioritization:

 For the first time in modern history, retail is experiencing a supply shortage with massive delays in production. It’s more important than ever to make fast and accurate product design, selection, and pricing decisions. Retailers and brands must prioritize products that move forward into production because as factory output remains constrained. It is critical to pick the right products because assortments will include less SKUs.

In addition to providing scores that predict product success, our platform features Interaction Analysis which enables merchants to optimize assortments by considering the cross-item effects of item pairs. This means that given comparable items that score similarly, we can indicate which pairs of items will work best together and complement one another, driving incremental sales and avoiding cannibalization. Especially in times like these, retailers and brands need products that will work together to optimize revenue and margin.


Coronavirus is slowing all aspects of the supply chain, but with our integration options, we can help make up for lost time. Seamless connections between software solutions help move products from design to production to retail as fast as possible.

If you are a retailer or brand that works with Li & Fung, you already have an advantage. WWD recently hosted a webinar featuring First Insight and L&F highlighting the supply chain of the future—which is fast, responsive, and sustainable. First Insight powers the customer-driven digital testing function for items moving through L&F’s supply chain. Learn more about our integration with Li & Fung here.

We also have integrations with 2D and 3D software companies such as Browzwear and Optitex to seamlessly upload designs into our platform. This enables retailers and brands to design and test products quickly, make decisions, and then book factories fast. Many of our wholesale customers will pitch products to retailers based on CAD test results, a sustainably efficient and cost-effective approach to business.

Our other integrations include top PLM and planning solution providers. For more information on our partners please contact our VP of Alliances, Tim Andreae.

Global Planning:

Travel has essentially ceased between countries, and therefore global companies need effective ways to keep their business abroad strong. First Insight’s predictive analytics software for retail enables product testing in over 30 language/currency combinations. This means that a merchandising team in New York City can know which products will be most successful by country and by region in 24 to48 hours and formulate winning assortments abroad without leaving the office.

At FDRA’s Footwear CEO Summit last year, Global President of Hush Puppies, Greg Tunney, shared how his company leverages first Insight to succeed globally. Check out the video below.

COVID-19 has disrupted our lives and economies in historic ways. However, now is not the time to panic. First Insight’s solution can help your business move at the speed of retail even during a pandemic. Contact us using the form below for more details or schedule a demo on how First Insight can support your company during this challenging time.

More on COVID-19 and Retail:

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