As the world continues to grapple with multiple impacts of the COVID_19 pandemic, the dramatic change in spending habits and furloughing of the retail trade have witnessed an unprecedented disruption of commerce. As states in the US gradually lift the stay-at-home ban, most retail store owners are slowly reopening or hopeful of opening and luring digitally-adapted customers back into stores.
However, it is evident that we will emerge in a much different world from the one we left before the start of the pandemic. Although online stores have had sales increase as buyers have turned to them, there are still a few experiences online stores can’t deliver.
Baring these changes in mind, here are a few tips on how to get customers into your store as the stay-at-home ban is lifted.
#1. Ensure Physical distancing and Hygiene Measures
Retailers must apply measures that make shoppers feel safe before getting old and new customers back into the stores. Retailers will need to prioritize physical distancing and hygiene measures in stores, following social distancing guidelines from the CDC and different states across the US.
Most states have a stage by stage plan of reopening business places, so you would also want to factor this in as you plan to open. For example, in May, Governor of California Gavin Newsom stated the health guidelines that retailers, manufacturers, and warehouses must adhere to for curbside pick-up.
Retailers are also expected to begin delivery of items to shoppers’ cars while wearing their gloves, face masks and using hands-free payment devices. Manufacturers and warehouses must also carry sanitizing materials during all deliveries.
It is evident that retailers will have to provide shoppers with more reasons than ever to visit shops. Thus, crucially in the immediate term, retailers will have to give both shoppers and staff the confidence to be in stores by prioritizing hygiene and social safety.
#2. Buy Online and Pick Up In-Store
Not a lot of customers are kin on paying for shipping or have the patience to go through the trouble of returning an item purchased online. Furthermore, a study recently carried out by job site Retail Choice found that 20% of shoppers have been frustrated by online customer service tools, like Chabot, that cannot answer their inquiries.
So if your retail store can provide online sales and then pick up from the store, it alleviates that tension and helps your store compete with other eCommerce shops that don’t have a physical store.
Another benefit that can come out of this is that the customers might get to your stores and see something else they like. Since they can physically see and touch the product, unlike in an eCommerce store, they are more likely to buy on impulse.
Additionally, beyond the online buying and in-store pick-up, you can add incentives such as a 10% discount if they select the in-store pick-up option. They will appreciate the savings, and as you get them to your store, you get a chance to make personal connections, which could lead to repeat customers.
#3. Create a loyalty program
A study carried out by Customer Insight Group, Inc., shows that loyal customers make up 55-70% of sales for a business. Thus, customer loyalty programs are an excellent way to retain your customers, you don’t want to go through the whole process of customer acquisition only to lose them in the end.
Additionally, a recent survey of over 3,000 participants showed that 80% of consumers are more likely to shop at stores that offered a loyalty program. Although this strategy takes careful planning, the results can pay off big time.
To have a successful loyalty program, it needs to go beyond just punch cards and 5-10% discount offers. Undoubtedly your brand should be structured to do much more than the essential marketing campaigns that lure customers to impulse buying via discount coupons.
Moreover, a customer could decide to spend their money elsewhere, but they’ve chosen your brand. So give them more reasons to want to come to your store.
#4. Promote corporate social responsibility (CSR)
There is no gainsaying that people are prone to respond to good deeds. Customers are always more inclined to shop at stores that are associated with a good cause. So as the world battles this deadly virus, remember that your CSR practices don’t just help the world; it can also bring in customers and sales.
Some CRS practices you can take up include:
- Donate care packages and PPEs to those in need from a portion of your sales
- being more ethical with how you source or manufacture products
- let customers know a part of each purchase goes towards fighting COVID-19
- Invest in your workforce
We must all bear in mind that retail isn’t dying out as a result of the pandemic; instead, it’s changing. Thus retailers need to adapt to these changes that can help them grow their customer base and keep shop doors swinging from sales.