The global fight to contain the spread of COVID-19 has caused many businesses to close their doors or alter their operations for quite a period of time. Now, as governments across the country continue to ease social distancing and trading restrictions, it’s time to start optimising for the new normal when it comes to getting back to business.
Due to the complex nature of what we’re facing, there are still many restrictions that may apply to your business, and customers, for the foreseeable future. That’s why it’s important that you adopt an operating model that complies with these measures but also enables you open your doors and start getting back in the black quickly. Here are some tips that may help boost your retail business right now:
Communicate with your customers
Keeping your customers informed is critical to the health of your business now and in the future as more restrictions are lifted. Let your customers know where they can find you, how they can support your business and what your new operating hours are.
Ensure that you use all the communication channels at your disposal, including your website and social media profiles, and email your base with business reopening updates.
Add appointment shopping
With the return of in-person shopping has come a range of rules that brick-and-mortar stores must follow to ensure the health and safety of customers. Having to restrict the number of customers in your store at any given time will be challenging, so why not give customers the option to book a shopping appointment with you.
There are many free and low-cost options for setting up an easy online booking page that integrates with your website. You can then take your customers details ahead of time and communicate with them through text and email reminders.
Try contactless selling
With social distancing guidelines remaining in place for the foreseeable future, many businesses are turning to contactless selling to limit in-person interactions. If you’re not already, now is the time to start selling online. Having an online directory of your products not only enables you to showcase all you have to offer, but you can also highlight best-selling items or seasonally relevant products too. Online checkouts also provide a fast, secure and simple way for customers to pay.
Outside of websites, social media channels have become a popular avenue for selling over the last couple of months. Many platforms, like Facebook and Instagram, are enabling retailers to integrate product links to their profiles and posts. For example, Square recently released an online checkout feature that enables retailers to add a unique checkout link to social media posts, so customers can simply click on the product they like in your feed and pay instantly.
Don’t forget, there are also a number of alternative payment options that don’t require online promotion or in-person contact with your customers, like taking orders over the phone and keying in card payment details, or sending e-invoices.
Diversify your product offering
Although restrictions are starting to lift, you may still have some limitations to what you can offer your customers, whether it’s due to shipping and logistics, available inventory or a change in customer behaviour. Don’t be afraid to get creative with new ways to add extra revenue.
Electronic gift cards are a great way to increase cash flow and ask your customers to provide some additional support while you are working to get back to business as usual. There are many platforms now that make it easy to set up selling gift cards online, you can then promote them to your customers via social media.
Restrictions are changing the way that people live and what they buy, so delving into the latest trends or surveying your customer base to determine what their needs are right now is also a great idea. It could be as simple as adding extra in-demand items, such as decorative face masks and gloves, promoting locally-sourced products, or changing to local suppliers to get your goods quickly.
Chris Rich is customer success lead at Square Australia.