It wasn’t expected, it certainly couldn’t be planned for, but now retailers are being forced to not just think outside the box, but totally build a new one in the wake of the economic fallout from COVID-19.
So, what are the top tips when it comes to rethinking your bricks and mortar business model as social distancing sees traditional retail grind to a near complete standstill?
Here’s a quick guide to strategies available for retailers to pivot in the time of COVID-19.
A diversified offering
What are the key things people are seeking right now? In most cases it’s essential items. That’s seeing some businesses up the ante and switch up their product lines.
For example, florists are now delivering packages of essential food and household items, while alcohol distillers are making hand sanitizer. Some clothing brands have also turned their attention to making and retailing face masks.
They’re diversifying their offering to cater to what’s in demand.
Online is critical
Prior to COVID-19, online were certainly important to have. Now they’re absolutely critical.
With more people spending time indoors, this is particularly the case for retailers who offer products like homewares, and DIY items.
People are looking to occupy their time and items like these along with games, puzzles, kids’ educational tools, and tech hardware help keep them busy.
Meanwhile, essential items are also sought online. This includes online ordering of medications and food.
Whether it’s on social media, your website or via your email marketing, be open and transparent about what you’re doing as a retailer.
This includes strategies you are embracing to protect staff health and employment, initiatives that have been put in place to better service your consumer, and how your business is being impacted.
When people understand what you’re doing they’re more than likely to support you and assist.
People currently have a lot of time on their hands, and some welcome a distraction. This is the time to help out with how-tos and guides.
For fashion retailers this is especially pertinent. Guides on getting the look, what’s in, work from home wardrobes and more, could be topics of interest.
Communicate, communicate, communicate
It’s not business as usual by any means, but it is important to communicate that retail is still indeed in business. The offering might be different, the delivery might be altered, but communication is key to ensuring your customers know where you’re at.
Reach out to your community
Help your community and they will help you. This may not be the time to spruik the latest online sale, but it is the moment to reach out and assist those in need.
When a brand shows its altruistic side, it’s far more likely to reap results in terms of loyal and raving fans. Long after this immediate crisis is over, these are the people who will have your back.
Set up for the comeback
Although there’s no doubting things in retail are tough, one unique benefit that is coming out of the current situation is that all industries are being forced to rethink their strategies, embrace technology and look at the systems and procedures within their business.
This hiatus offers an opportunity to look at retail business efficiency and spend time setting up for the comeback.
When COVID-19 ends, and it will, there will be a palpable sense of relief driving consumerism in the immediate aftermath.
That will bring its own opportunity. In the interim, the aim of the game is to remain relevant, cater to consumer’s current needs and be flexible and transparent where required.
If you’re looking for further resources about retail at this time, including Government relief and industry guidance, the National Retail Federation has a dedicated page of COVID-19 resources.