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05/18/2021

Editor’s Note: Take 2

DSN editor in chief Seth Mendelson discusses how emerging from the pandemic gives all the industry a chance to reimagine the future and develop programs that will keep retail on the cutting edge.

An interesting thing happened to me on the way to the bank earlier this month.

A friend walked up to me as I was waiting to make a deposit and asked, “What do you think about the glamorous and Michelin-starred restaurant Eleven Madison Park changing its menu to one that features no meat or seafood when it reopens from the pandemic-forced shutdown?”

It seems that the people who run this restaurant, known, according to a May 3 article in The New York Times, for its highbrow lobster and duck, among many other expensive items, realize that they have to be different in the post-COVID era. “It was clear that after everything we all experienced this past year, we couldn’t open the same restaurant,” the owner and top chef told the Times.

I have absolutely no doubt that this is the start of a new age in this country and the world. America is not only reopening and returning to some sense of normalcy, but we also are entering a time where new innovations will become the norm and new attitudes will become necessary.

It did not hit me right away, but eventually I realized that what was good for the goose is also good for the gander. In other words, if executives at top restaurants realize that times are changing, there is every reason to believe they are going to change elsewhere, including at your local drug store or supermarket.

Let’s be clear here. I have absolutely no doubt that this is the start of a new age in this country and the world. America is not only reopening and returning to some sense of normalcy, but we also are entering a time where new innovations will become the norm and new attitudes will become necessary. Taking calculated and educated risks will become part of that change.

Mass retail has an advantage over many other categories. At this point, consumers are still willing and eager to enter our stores to purchase the food, health and beauty care, and general merchandise products they need. But, with the digital shopping growing and consumer demands evolving, retailers must take the appropriate steps to stay ahead of the curve.

What are those steps? Frankly, besides offering more convenience and digital options, I am not sure. What I am certain about is that we all have to keep our eyes and ears open to make sure that we remain ahead of the times and stay on par with consumer needs and technological advances.

When historians look back on the second half of 2021 and, perhaps, the next few years, they will say that this was when society took a break from the routine and reinvented itself. Mass retail, including the pharmacy, needs to be on the cutting edge of this change.

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