As we enter into the ‘golden quarter’ things are looking less shiny than usual, and retailers are bracing for another difficult period ahead. However, both businesses and consumers are better prepared to navigate shopping during a pandemic this time around. Retailers who have well maintained online channels or integrated ecommerce and pos are at an advantage. Here are a few fresh ideas I hope can bring you and your customers some joy.

1. Foster personal connection

Creating a great, personalised experience for a customer is even more difficult if the customer can’t browse freely in-store and interact with your sales associates. Some retailers are using digital channels such as social media to connect with their customers and emulate an in-store experience.

The great news is that retailers can do this even if they don’t have an ecommerce website! Show customers around the shop via live streams, and encourage customers to ring up to purchase for collection or home delivery. Engage with influencers on social media to help promote what you’re doing.

Dunelm have trialled a virtual shopper experience, where customers are encouraged to book a time slot and a store operator will walk the customer around the store with a video-enabled device. After the experience, the operator can help the customer order for click and collect, and/or the shopping basket is emailed over to the customer for purchase later. This could translate nicely into a ‘personal shopper’ service that retailer or charity retailers could find fruitful. In addition, it’s great for those customers who may not be able to make it into store, or who may be shielding and uncomfortable with buying online.

2. Make the collection process amazing

According to Retail Gazette, as of 2020, at least 80 per cent of retail shops offered click-and-collect, increasing by 32 per cent since 2019. Retailers offering a click and collect service have an opportunity to use that service to upsell. Creating a dedicated collection point will help combat queues, and it also presents an upsell opportunity. Making it just a bit too easy to pick up some other “no brainer” right at the collection point can help boost that average transaction value. You could even offer a collection point in your unique way – offer a curbside pick up point if you can, a drive through window, or a window to the sidewalk customers can collect from.

Some improvements can be made to the online process too. Use the confirmation page and email as an opportunity to up-sell. If the customer is going to be going into the shop anyway, it’s a natural opportunity to add on some best-selling or related items to their baskets. Marketing automation software can help small businesses make bigger impacts. Make sure to write clear directions on your confirmation emails with how and where to collect goods, if there is a specific time slot, and what to do in the case that items aren’t collected. Be clear about the timing for collection and the channels the customer will be notified on.

Make sure you have dedicated staff to process your web and collection orders, especially if you’re picking stock from the shop floor. Ensuring stock for online orders is picked and packed quickly will reduce the risk that an item could be oversold.

3. Communicate with purpose

The small details make all the difference. Ensure that product information and product imagery on your website is up-to-date and appeals to the senses. Your customers won’t be able to have the tactile experience they may have had before, so ensuring the language is emotive and photos are detailed and representative is going to help conversion.

Make it easy for customers to interact with you by making it clear which channels you prefer to be contacted on. Not every retailer has the luxury of a 50-person strong social media team. Sometimes, it’s just a few staff who manage an entire retail operation. It’s ok not to be present on every social media channel. But make sure that one’s you’re on are fully manned, active, and even a bit fun.

Ensure that you’re constantly communicating ongoing health and safety measures to staff and customers. This can be via your social media channels, posters in-store, and even by sending messages to staff. Cybertill’s point of sale and ERP software for retailers has a cool messaging feature where you can instantly send messages to all tillpoints, something that can help retailers communicate during this time of near constant change.

Retailers who use these uncertain times as an opportunity to take some small risks by trying new things could be the ones that come through stronger. If you want to have a chat about any of the retail or business issues you’re experiencing during covid, please give us a call or schedule a consultation demo.

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