Lockdown 2.0: Positive Steps to Sustain Your Business
If you’ve had to close your shop doors under more restrictions, no doubt that now oft-repeated phrase “non-essential retail” really stings, because the business you’ve built up from scratch using your savings and put blood, sweat and tears into, isn’t “non-essential” to you and those around you. Of course, we all recognise the importance of protecting public health, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t a really challenging time the retail sector and restrictions on retail across the various parts of the UK and more widely across Europe, undoubtedly have the potential to inflict further damage to the sector at the busiest time of the year for the industry.
So, what positive steps can you take to make sure that you sustain your business?
Make it easy for customers to buy from you
It sounds so simple, but a series of small actions can make such a difference. Do you publish your opening hours, share how to get in contact with you and have someone available to answer the phone, social media and email enquiries? Making sure your website is simple to navigate, quick to load and that all your products are uploaded for customers to buy. Offer different options for payment and delivery including (if you can) free local delivery and click and collect options to reduce the risk of courier services not being able to meet a big upsurge in requests for home delivery.
Make the most of local support.
According to recent research, customers see many benefits to shopping local, citing a desire to stay close to home and having trust in products’ origins. Naturally, many consumers also say that it’s important to them to support the local economy, the brands and the people they know [i] and to make the most of personal service and a friendly face. The Retail Gazette found that 20% of shoppers have become frustrated with online customers service failures such as chat bots not being able to answer enquiries and increasingly value in-store experiences and human interaction[ii]. Take time to understand the needs of your local shoppers and cater to them, to maximise their support and engagement.
And on the topic of maximising engagement, you won’t go far wrong by really ramping up your social media efforts and interacting with customers through those channels. Share all-important customers reviews in social media posts to encourage trust in, and engagement with, your business. According to Nielsen’s 2019 “Trust in Advertising” global survey, peer recommendation is trusted “completely” or “somewhat” by 9 out of 10 respondents.[iii]
Perhaps also consider running features such as “Product of the Day, engaging with influencers to promote your brand to a wider audience or a special offer promotion such as a limited-time discount code for social media subscribers.
Offering discounts and promotions has long been a way of enticing customers to part with their money. Retail giant Amazon is credited with first bringing Black Friday sales to the UK in 2010[iv] but department stores such as Debenhams have been running flash sale pre-Christmas events, offering customers up to 20% off for a limited period of a few days, since the early 2000s. On Black Friday 2019, Barclaycard recorded a new peak of 1,184 transactions per second between 1pm and 2pm, up by around nine per cent from the previous year and predict that customers keen to take part in promotions will spend £21 more than last year on average.[v]
There’s strength in community so consider collaborating with other businesses. Perhaps offer a joint promotion, share each other’s products in your social feeds or, produce a gift guide or a gift curation. You’re growing your base of potential customers at very little cost. If you’re currently selling D2C, you might also consider selling your products on other sites or in other stores in future. Product Guru can help you with this, with a free supplier account which makes your products visible to buyers from retailers across the UK and makes it simple, quick and seamless to get your products onto shelves.
Here’s to strong decision-making, staying positive and working together to overcome what’s ahead.
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