Retail After Pandemic: Stephen Gendron, Co-founder, ENDVR

COVID-19 is ravaging retail. To help retailers survive and thrive on the other side of the pandemic, we released our Crisis Manifesto: How retail will change post-Coronavirus report and featured startups like BRIKAFoko Retail, and Ampli by RBC Ventures, as well as Business Council of Canada‘s perspective on the future of retail. Today, we talk with Stephen Gendron, Co-founder of ENDVR.

Can you share a little about ENDVR? Why did you start the company? What does it do? And given the circumstances today, what are you doing to keep moving forward?  What are you hearing from your customers and partners (since you work with retailers, brands, associates — basically everyone!)?

ENDVR is a sales boosting app that makes it easy for brands & retailers to give front line employees the tools they need to excel at their job, and incentives they want to help drive sales on the store floor. Having owned a retail store for years, and the past 15+ years working with brands like TOMS Shoes, Havaianas and many more in the sporting goods space, we built ENDVR to make it easy for brands to reward their employees and sales associates with cash & prizes for helping drive sales, and get on-demand insights into the state of their business.

Our business model at ENDVR is all about bringing brands, retailers and front-line employees together…so when retail grinds to a halt, so does our business.  That said, everyone we talk to, whether that is a brand or a retailer, knows that ‘this too shall pass’, and they’re busy building their strategy to recover and grow when they do.       

Crisis Manifesto: How retail will change post-Coronavirus — a report by Highline Beta

Retail is now staring at industry-wide disruption. How can companies stay competitive in this changing landscape? Highline Beta has put together a report on retail innovation trends to help retailers thrive on the other side of the pandemic.

Once we emerge from the crisis, how are you thinking about the future of ENDVR; will you be changing your approach, roadmap, etc.?  Strategically, how does the situation affect your long-term plans for retail after pandemic, if at all?

You should never waste a crisis. That’s how we’ve always looked at every challenge we face. While this will be tough in the short term, we are 100% focused on how we can emerge on the other side of this even stronger.  Our go to market strategy has been to work exclusively in the sporting goods / lifestyle industry, with leading brands like Burton Snowboards, CCM Hockey, SPY Optics, Bolle and more as clients.  That said, we are now looking at opportunities to also open up other areas of retail like grocery, pharmacy, etc. and we’re exploring the best way to do it. The goal would be to emerge from this with a wider, more diverse client base.

How do you think consumer behaviour will change going forward? Do you think there will be permanent changes to how people buy / shop? Will more of it move and stay online via e-commerce? 

Such a good question, and obviously so hard to predict. There is no doubt that this will accelerate changes in certain areas of retail. We’ve been hearing for years that everything is slowly moving on-line.  What’s really interesting about this crisis however is how quickly it forced all of us into a completely digital world – I mean completely! 

After spending all of our time here over the last few weeks, most people are now craving physical experiences & human connection more than ever!  So while I’m sure we’ll see wider adoption of things like online ordering of groceries, etc., the average consumer like me can’t wait to get back in the mall, or their favourite shop. They want to talk to someone, they want to try something on, chat with their friendly shop owner…they just want to be able to look someone in the eye and say, thanks!

What’s your perspective on local retailers — the small businesses that are completely shut down. I’m seeing groups of people encouraging people to still buy local, possibly via gift cards, support local restaurants — do you think this momentum and encouragement continues? Do you think this will actually save local retail after pandemic? Can local businesses innovate their way out of this situation?

Having owned a small retail store for years, and spending the last 17 years working alongside them, I can say without equivocation that these stores are so important to the vitality of their community.  Whether you’re walking into your local bike shop, running store or coffee shop, you will find some of the most passionate individuals you can meet, ready to help you. So we’re now working on solutions with our brand partners to help these stores get through this crisis and bounce back as quickly as possible. These major brands understand that recovering from this crisis will take a collective effort from all stakeholders, and ensuring independent retail continues to thrive is key to their success.

Coming out of COVID-19, where do you think retailers should invest in order to survive and thrive? Where do you see the innovation taking place that can truly help them differentiate and grow their businesses?

Short-term it’s going to hurt. We all know that. But long term, the industry will survive this. Great retailers will thrive on the other side by ensuring that they’re delivering a great customer experience by having great people on the store floor who know their stuff who can help every customer walking in the door. How quickly it bounces back is left to be seen, but we know that when all the stakeholders put their collective effort behind the recovery, good things can happen. 

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