THE TALK: Re-starting from the Customer

Mario Chimento, CEO of Chimento, comments on the transit that the entire supply chain is experiencing and the ongoing changes within the company. Between safety management and customer care

What problems has the supply chain come up against during these months? 
Up until 15th February, our in-store sales were continuing on their normal course but March saw the first signs of the crisis that we have all become familiar with and the consequent lack of liquidity, starting from the distribution chain. Chimento has the privilege of working on 25 different markets and this is perhaps one of the first times, in more than 50 years of business, that we have had to face such a generalized situation due to the global lockdown. 
As for production, we have always chosen to produce in Italy, more specifically in the Vicenza district. Behavioral habits, even in the working environment, have been turned upside down: during these weeks, we have been tasked with implementing safety procedures, first and foremost, to safeguard the health of our employees and external collaborators, and it is only now that we can start to think about jewelry production. 

Have these weeks led to permanent changes?
I think the biggest change has been within ourselves as we have realized how fragile and vulnerable the system we live in really is. The experience that this situation has given us, must, undoubtedly, have repercussions within a company, both in terms of work organization, which has to be redesigned to respect the safety restrictions, and on a financial level where we are tackling an enforced stop that is putting the entire economic system under pressure. 
Now we are waiting for the stores to re-open, aware that a return to normality will need time. However, we are certain that returning to habits that have been lost for too long, will lead to an enthusiasm that will eventually overcome this moment. 

What are you focusing on?
Customer awareness is a company’s real asset, a process that is nurtured every day, both directly and through our distribution network. If a person has already placed his or her trust in us, why not involve them in new initiatives? Searching for new customers and markets can often be given too much attention, forgetting that it is easier (and less costly) to build on the loyalty of existing customers. Therefore, during these weeks, we have optimized our CRM’s data collection and processing system, not with the intention of changing our traditional business model, nor for the purpose of expanding onto on-line sales channels, which are not among our priorities at the moment. Instead, what we want to do, is to use this information to propose new buying experiences, to meet the demands of our customers and, perhaps, to be able to foresee their desires. This is a job that storekeepers are often tasked with but which, in normal times, cannot be done with the right individual care.

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