Insights and Studies, Team Management for Services, Thought-Leadership

Navigating Uncertainty: The Key to Success in Today's Retail Landscape

Navigating Uncertainty: The Key to Success in Today's Retail Landscape

I’ve been working with retailers and brands since the late 1980s, and have seen at least 4 periods of “extended economic disturbance”. The story has been the same every time, and it holds true in the current climate as well: no one can accurately predict how long or deep it will run, and ‘uncertainty’ is the norm. I’ve also seen the rebounds and am very optimistic about the growth that lies ahead!  Those who embrace the challenge, and leverage the opportunity that we have right now will be the clear winners when stability returns.

It was no surprise to me that Repsly’s 2023 Retail Execution outlook reflects the sentiment of the broader economy. What is also clear is that there is an opportunity for CPGs to take action and position themselves to emerge as winners as the economy settles again. 

The state of retail has whiplashed since the start of the pandemic, taking a serious hit when no one wanted to venture into the stores, and saw an incredible comeback when people were finally able to be comfortable in public again. During that time we saw the hyper-growth of eCommerce, followed by a massive return to retail. We saw suppliers and retailers struggle through supply chain and labor issues that made it difficult to satisfy consumer demand at the shelf, and we have experienced an acceleration of the drive to provide ‘incredible shopper experiences’. 

All of this while inflation was running rampant. It’s no wonder so many brands are frozen in their tracks when trying to plan what to do in retail!

The insights that are revealed in this year’s Retail Outlook Report can lead CPGs to claim success as 2023 carries us through these confusing and uncertain times [dare I include ‘exciting’?]; here’s what I see: 

  • Top-level priorities have not changed: Grow Sales, and Strengthen Relationships with Retailers

  • Traditional “Top Problems” are amplified: Hiring & Managing Field Teams and On-Shelf Availability

  • “Analysis Paralysis” exists when it comes to Tech Investment priorities: eCommerce? Retail Execution? Supply Chain Optimization? Tech Stack Consolidation?

  • There is a clear shift in how field teams are resourced: Move towards ‘Hybrid Teams’

  • Consumers are equally unsettled and are rebalancing what and how they buy things

All of this leads to a few simple strategies to follow in order to emerge from this tumultuous time as one of the winners:

  1. Doing nothing = moving backward when things are rapidly changing! During these times, some will lean in and make opportunities to pass their competitors, while others will stand still and be passed.

  2. Things don’t work the way they used to: THIS is the time to drive change!  A bright example in the Retail Execution space is the concept of applying bodies to a coverage model. The economics of this approach don't work anymore! It’s time to find ways to be smarter about how and where expensive resources are deployed!

  3. Flexibility is more important than ever!  The pace of change has accelerated, and a trend like this rarely reverses. CPGs should expect that the retail environment, consumer behaviors, competition, and the number and scale of new issues will continue to rapidly evolve. Agility in this world is critical to survival, and essential to thriving!


Repsly is a leading player in the Retail Execution space, and as such we have visibility into several hundred examples of how CPGs are taking on the unique challenges that they are facing today. What we see is very clear: those who lean in and take action are the winners, and those who lean back and wait for things to get better fall to the back. 

My strong advice to those organizations that responded “Don’t Know” or “Not Sure” when we asked about their plans for investing in Retail Execution tech is: “Don’t wait!  Make a plan! Lean In! Take this opportunity to leverage uncertainty and be one of the winners!”

Download the Outlook Report

As the retail landscape continues to evolve, it’s more important than ever to stay on top of the latest trends and challenges.  Download our report today to see how more than 200+ CG executives and field leaders are strategizing for 2023.

Matthew Brogie

Mat Brogie is part of the founding team, and CEO of Repsly, the world's leading solution for high performance retail execution teams. Mat has spent the past 15 years of his career focused on bringing technology enabled business solutions to the consumer goods industry, having implemented solutions for tens of thousands of field reps at companies such as Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, Pepperidge Farm and hundreds of others.

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