The world of retail has been flipped on its head with the onslaught of COVID-19. When it wasn’t hard enough for retailers, it just got that bit harder; forced closure with no potential end in sight and even when shops do start to re-open, who knows how long it will take to get back on their feet and for customers to commit to buying?
So the question is: what can you do now in order to take some actions so that you are not panicking and hoping on a wing and a prayer? There are things that can be done to keep our businesses alive, so the first step is to not lose hope. Your customers are still wanting to hear from you, want to be inspired and are quite happy for their minds to be taken into fantasy retail therapy land, even if it is short-lived.
Alexandra Wood runs a menswear tailoring company in Savile Row who were also forced to close. A heartbreak as she mentions, Alexandra went through three stages of emotion: panic, sadness and then despair as she wondered if all of her years of hard work would be over.
Never the less, just as leaders do, Alexandra dusted herself off, remembered that she is an industry disruptor and hatched a plan to continue trading, albeit differently, and you can too. Here are 3 strategies retail companies need to integrate to combat COVID-19.
First things first, make sure any touchpoints you have with customers i.e website and shop/s have signs or banners up stating that you’re still operating. Subconsciously your customers may be thinking that you may be wiped out by this. Show them you’re on top of things and are still ‘business as usual.’
Operate where you can online. We are in a one-to-one consultation industry, so have had to move all our personal appointments online. Now is the time for Zoom to be your best friend. You can sign up for free, this will allow you a maximum of a 30-minute meeting.
Any more and you’ll have to pay a monthly fee which will still be well worth it. You can also use the time to do more video, or even send a personal video to your clients directly and even record the consultation for your client to refer back to.
Stay in touch
Stay in touch with as many of your customers as possible but never be too salesy. Everyone is a little sensitive right now and depending on what line of business you’re in, you may want to tread more lightly in some areas than with others.
What can you do to show you care? Do you write blogs for your website? You could write something inspirational or motivational that ties in with your product. Find a postcard that you think your customer would like and write them a personalised note to say ‘Hi, I’m thinking of you’. Don’t be afraid to sell. Not everyone can create face masks for the NHS sadly, but there are also people still wanting to purchase things to make them feel better. Blend sales with helpful information.
Up your marketing
Up your marketing. Some retailers have paused all efforts but all current and potential customers will think is that you’ve given up. Now’s the time to show what you’re made of and keep your message clear and concise and most importantly of all – get it out there. Add humour, information, education, polls, Q&As and utilise all the things you can do to show you really care about your customer, so they feel seen.