Updated: Sep 22, 2020
Many retail locations, both local and national, are working hard to open and stay open while customers are dealing with the new 'normal' that COVID-19 has brought about. How and when customers shop depends on health authority regulations and their own comfort level.
As retailers look to build back their revenue and attract customers to their businesses, they are finding that customer behavior can be very mixed. They may be:
Adhering to all appropriate safety precautions while still maintaining their previous shopping habits.
Avoiding retail locations, for now, due to COVID-19 transmission fears.
So, the question for retailers is:
How to adapt and deliver products and services to all consumers, regardless of their new buying and shopping behaviors.
Armed with current information on consumer buying trends, leading retailers are adjusting their communications and operating approach to appeal to ever-changing consumer behavior in a variety of ways:
Addressing Safety Concerns
Retailers are taking the time to carefully and meticulously adjust operations to align with safety protocols and create a safe place for customers. They are communicating frequently and clearly, online and in-store, to all customers to ensure they are aware of the changes, thus building trust that a safe return is possible.
Communicating Ongoing Hygiene Protocols
Making a safe and clean shopping environment a priority. Retailers who communicate their hygiene protocols, clearly and openly, build confidence and trust in the consumers' minds.
Adjusting Operating Hours to Meet Consumers' Needs
Retailers are adjusting their operating hours and staffing based on customers' behaviors (seniors' hours, later openings, earlier closing, etc.). Clearly posting adjusted hours online and through social media keep customers updated and indicates the desire and commitment to address the consumers' needs.
Online Consumer Targeting
With an increased focus on digital mediums, retailers are connecting with consumers in real time. They are using technology and digital platforms to boost sales and increase engagement. Announcing new products or services, promoting a special price, sharing expertise – are a few ways retailers are keeping their brands 'top of mind' with consumers online. Clearly outlining how consumers can purchase in the new environment and keeping the content up to date is also proving successful.
Expanding Their Digital Shelf
Businesses are taking advantage of the many software solutions available to small and medium size retailers that can be implemented quickly, allowing them to sell online through their website and social media channels. Reviewing inventory and changing how products are delivered to customers has changed so much - from click and collect, to delivery, to new online shopping opportunities, retailers are finding creative ways to connect with customers and drive revenue.
Incenting Consumers To Purchase
The economists are right when they say people respond to financial incentives. Successful retailers are offering an incentive to customers to shop at a store, use a service or dine in a restaurant. Some revenue generating options include:
Bundle services together for a discount of 15% or more
Dine in on Mondays, Tuesdays or Wednesdays and get 25% off food orders
20% discount on click and collect items
Free delivery for online orders over a certain amount
Added gift certificate on a purchase over a certain amount for future purchase
Front of the line privileges for reservations
Discounted Gift certificates
Keeping the incentives simple and easy to track will be important as many retailers are working with reduced workforce.
Times are a changing. The old adage 'sink or swim' has never been more true. Keeping a business 'top of mind' with their customers' during these unparalleled times is a sure way to stay viable and move toward recovery, capture market share and grow.