One year on – the lockdown legacy for FMCG

A year on from the first lockdown and businesses across all sectors, including FMCG, have experienced unprecedented changes that will impact the way they operate for years to come.

Here, the UK’s leading voice in incentives and rewards, Appreciate, the home of Love2shop, shares its ‘Business Lockdown Legacy’ list for FMCG organisations.

These are the key changes introduced in the last year that many businesses all over the UK have embraced in face of huge adversity.

All these adaptations are here to stay, says Frank Creighton, Director of Business Development at Appreciate Group, which works with thousands of FMCG brands by servicing their incentives programs. The FMCG Lockdown Legacy list will be developed even further as UK businesses gradually emerge out restrictions, he says.

Appreciate has collated the top steps taken in the last year that have brought about positive change and will continue to do so.

Speaking on the UK’s business ‘Lockdown Legacy’, Frank Creighton, Director of Business Development at Appreciate Group, said: “Despite many challenges, the last year has cultivated a fresh, progressive and resilient culture of change for FMCG and throughout the country, which we can all take forward and grow.”

The FMCG Lockdown Legacy list – from Appreciate, the home of Love2shop:

1. How digital tech saved FMCG and its customers

The FMCG business world found itself in a suddenly digital-first world of engagement last March, with an unprecedented rise in online ordering and delivery services. In tackling the new obstacles that presented themselves, leaders, staff and customers took initiative like never before and showed themselves to be impressively flexible and creative problem solvers.

Going forward? Online orders and deliveries will become mainstream and even more sophisticated as the use of shopping apps grows. Instore digital scanning shopping is destined to expand as busy shoppers opt for sovereignty over their purchase experience.

2. Supermarkets as FMCG role models

There was a commendable display of proactivity among all the big supermarkets as the March 2020 lockdown kicked in. Logistics teams stepped up to a challenge never seen before. From rapid recruitment of extra in-store and online staff, to clever and regular marketing communications, they set the bar high..

Going forward? Smaller retailers across the UK will look to this model and as many have already, introduced their own micro online ordering services, click and collect and extra flexible shopping hours. Rewarding staff and customers has been key too in helping transition these programs of change, with Appreciate, home of Love2shop seeing a rise in employee and customer rewards and recognition programmes. Making this even easier than ever is the Love2shop Contactless card – a personalised, digital gift card that can be sent through email and SMS to staff and customers all over the UK.

3. Where possible, working from home is here to stay

UK employees showed that despite years of scepticism that WFH (working from home) would be impossible on a large or long term scale; within a month of lockdown one, UK business had embraced it. Not only did we adapt swiftly, many recognised the huge benefits of a home-based workplace for those unable to work onsite, productivity was boosted by cutting out the old culture of commutes, time-consuming office-based meetings with the convenience of building a workflow around life at home.

Going forward? WFH is here to stay with business leaders now aiming to introduce a hybrid of both on-site and home-based working. Many businesses plan to go even further and ditch the expense of office space over the coming years and have a WFH-only admin workforce – something inconceivable before Covid.

4. Super flexitime – goodbye 9-to-5

After a year spent working under unprecedented challenges, FMCG businesses have embraced flexible working like never before. Employees have cultivated new skills in balancing time schedules and standard working hours have been adjusted to fit in with both customers’ and staff’s needs.

Going forward? If the last 12 months has taught the UK anything, it is that health and time with loved ones is crucial to a work-life balance. This means the extension of school-friendly working hours, flexible clock-ins for those with vulnerable, sick or elderly relatives and overnight shifts for those with daytime commitments. If the job gets done and done well, there is no reason why 9-to-5 becomes a thing of the past.

5. Zoom is here to stay but it’s not all bad

While many organisation will gradually return back to a full IRL (in real life) workforce, the use of video calling tech such as Zoom and MS Teams is here to stay. These handy tools have demonstrated that practically any meeting can take place online – any time. Yes, we have Zoom fatigue but no one can deny that the likes of Zoom have possibly saved many a business or at least sustained it during the last year, with Zoom seeing a 2000% increase in account registrations.

Going forward? The introduction of online video call support policies across the FMCG industry. From Zoom technician support, improved home router kits and camera phone cradles, to Zoom protocols that include a minimum number of hours blue light time to avoid fatigue and more privacy.

6. A focus on mental health

Key to getting through the last year has been the resilience shown across the UK. However, recognition of the impact of isolation, overwhelm and stress is an essential factor that all businesses must accept as a lockdown legacy. Even the most mentally robust will have endured excessive stress and even burn-out. In response, many top FMCG businesses introduced 24-hour counselling services for staff and upped their occupational health provision.

Going forward? Much more mental health support in the workplace, with awareness days and training for staff at all levels to recognise signs of stress and depression. Self-care days will soon be standard in many larger workplaces with wellness provisions such as online and in real life yoga, mindfulness classes and free access to counselling services becoming priority staff perks.

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