Wilcon Depot is not surprised to realize that since the reopening of its stores in May, customers’ demand has shifted away from its traditional, core offerings. The home improvement and construction supply retailer said most of the consumers flocking to its stores these days are buying non-core or ‘soft’ items like appliances, light bulbs, consumer electronics, and kitchen items.
“It seems that most of our customers are sprucing up their residences to cope with prolonged work-from-home arrangements,” said Wilcon Depot SEVP-COO Rosemarie Ong during a virtual press conference after the retailer’s annual shareholders’ meeting (virtual) on September 21, 2020. The company expects demand for its core products (including tiles and flooring) to rebound when private construction activities resume.
Retailing in the new normal
As required by the government, all Wilcon Depot stores abide by health and safety protocols—wherein all staff and customers are required to undergo body temperature checks, to accomplish contact tracing form, and to apply hand sanitizers before allowed to enter store premises. These entail additional costs, but the company said it is prioritizing everyone’s overall wellbeing.
The company is also adopting a change in consumers’ shopping habits, which pave the way for the rise of online transactions. Fortunately, the company has already been undergoing a ‘Smart Transformation’ long before the pandemic emerged. According to Wilcon Depot President and Chief Executive Officer Lorraine Belo-Cincochan, the retailer has been enhancing its current e-commerce platform to make its online shopping system much smoother within this year.
Wilcon Depot temporarily shut down most of its 58 stores when the community quarantine was first implemented in mid-March. The stores were re-opened in mid-May or two months after. It has since opened three new stores since then, bringing its current store number to 61 nationwide. It aims to open nine new stores in 2021.
While most other retailers are downsizing operations, Ong said Wilcon Depot is not cutting back on its labor force. Instead, the company has been optimizing the current positions according to workloads and functions to accommodate the shift in business demand. “Some jobs are being reassessed but are assigned to other related functions to further improve synergy within the organization,” she said.