The impact of coronavirus can be seen throughout the different areas of our economy: airlines are struggling, restaurants are closing, and even the stock market has suffered. However, most economic losses in the United States are due to store closures. About 72% of retailers are already closing stores and reducing working hours. Thus, making brick-and-mortar retailers one of the most vulnerable sectors to this crisis.
Over 1 million workers are being furloughed across all retail companies. Big names like Macy’s and The Gap, were forced to lay-off 125,000 and 80,000 employees, respectively, and more than 200,000 stores in America have temporarily closed, including J.C. Penney, Neuman Marcus, Kohl’s Corp., Ross Stores, and Victoria’s Secret, to name a few.
Due to these alarming statistics, retailers need to adapt to survive in this fighting times more than ever.
Therefore, I would like to share with you a couple of tips that will help your business survive this critical time.
Amidst the Coronavirus Chaos
Maybe you already have a presence online or maybe you don’t. Still, there are a few things you should be making sure you are doing to ride this wave a little better.
- Keep calm and keep prospecting
Yes, times are tough, but the sky’s not falling.
Keep your sales up and keep the leads coming. If the deal doesn’t happen now, it will in the future. As soon as the first sign that the crisis is ending, you can start making your move.
- Review Terms and Conditions
Adapt to the new normal.
That includes your policies. It may be a good idea to get rid of shipping guarantees and maybe include a clause that mentions “Acts of God” exceptions. Ask for advice to your legal advisor.
- Help your customers out
Like I said, focus on your customers’ needs. Perhaps you can offer financing or other methods to ease the burden. They will definitely appreciate it and it will improve your long-term relationship.
- Make adjustments!
This is the perfect time to try new things with clients. Your customers are now more open-minded to try new things. Lasting innovations can rise from critical moments. For example, there was no digital banking before 9-11. Banks would just send checks by plane. That of course, had a lasting effect.
Staying Afloat: What to Keep Doing and How
Okay, so you’re not making new business, but make sure you don’t lose any, either. There are some things you can do as a retailer to diminish the economic impact.
- Like I said, this is the time to implement change. Re-evaluate your operations, platforms and processes and do some long-term strategic planning.
- Shipment return times may take longer, or shipping overall, depending on your trade. You may also want to consider waiving shipments minimums.
- Check your inventory and communicate with both clients and providers. There may be a couple of things out of stock or shortages. Keep communication clear for waiting times and deliveries.
- Forecast different scenarios that can help you anticipate cash flow needs and demands
It is paramount that you let your production know what to expect in coronavirus times.
Adapting Your Store for E-commerce: A Simple Guide
Now, let’s get to the good part.
Turning to ecommerce is not as easy as it sounds, but taking the right steps can go a long way, and even if this is your first time online, you can dive in without a glitch.
Your website and online presence
There are so many technological advances that can help you translate your brand’s essence to the web. Your site or online shop should evoke the feeling customers get at your store. Turn everything virtual, with an emphasis on video.
Take clear and appealing photos or videos of your product and take the time to have a proper description with all necessary information to keep customers engaged. Keep things as transparent as possible.
Invest in UX
Besides keeping the essence of your brand, you want to give your customers the best experience.
Make your site or online store user friendly, easy to navigate and quick to load. Don’t forget to include more than one payment option, as well. Make online shopping as easy and seamlessly as possible.
Give your retail business and added value
Create digital content directed to your customers either for free or at a very low cost. This can range from education activities for kids or adults, or even lighthearted entertainment like a trivia or an informative capsule.
This is an alternative a lot of people will appreciate. Part of your customers’ needs is going through these stressful times.
Your customers are changing and so should you
A couple of ecommerce sellers are now adding hygiene or self-care related products, products like soaps. Others are adding the option of curbside pickup, or they’re even making digital versions of their products.
Another good idea is to launch collections or new products that are relevant to people’s everyday life during these times.
Communication is key
All businesses are facing changes. Most of them are letting their customers know via email, so you are right to think people are blasted with a million of these and they delete them.
As an alternative, you can create a FAQ section on your site, or you can use social media channels.
If you want your customers to feel like they can approach you more directly online, you can use Chabot or messenger options. They are a trending topic in marketing thanks to their success in sending quotes and answering questions.
Ok, so you’re online. Now what?
You most definitely will need a marketing campaign to promote your retail business online. There are many great ways to reach your target audience, and one of those is PPC advertising.
This is worth considering, especially if your products are relevant due to coronavirus.
However, this will not work with every business and you should think of a strategy that suits you.
You can also start promoting online shopping by offering exclusive online sales, discounts or products.
Times and things will be tough for a while, but not forever.
Now more than ever, brick-and-mortar retailers need to stay resilient to pull through. Focus on restructuring your business the same way we all have adapted as a society.
New needs will arise and if you know how to use them to create an efficient strategy that can help you move on to ecommerce. Soon enough, you’ll find it’s easy to catch the drift that will bring you and your business to calmer waters.
Michael, this is a great article! Due to these unprecedented times brick and mortar shops will need to turn to online retail to stay afloat. I currently live in Reno and there is a website being made that will allow for those shops to sell online through their software. A great tool to help those brick and mortar shops that do not have the ability to create their own platform to do that!