4 Tactics Your Midsized Retail Chain Can Use to Survive COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit retailers across the board. Now, midsized retail chains are affected as millions of people stay at home and practice social distancing. Brick-and-mortar shops selling essential supplies such as food, hardware and pet supplies are allowed to stay open, but other retailers are closed.
This move has led to consumers increasingly relying on Amazon and other online shops to meet their needs, but the website is feeling the crunch of the flood of COVID-19 orders. Common household goods are marked “out of stock” for days or even weeks. What was once reliable quick shipping has changed into week-long deliveries, or even in some cases, months. The website has been flooded with third-party sellers who have marked up goods and engaged in price gouging.
However, during this, there’s a takeaway for retailers. Even when COVID-19 is no longer a threat to our normal way of life, the changes we’re undergoing indicate that the retail world isn’t going to go back to normal any time soon. It’s up to retailers to pay attention now and learn how to respond, especially as consumer spending changes and will continue to change.
We’re here to share tactics midsized retail chains can use to survive COVID-19.
Offer New Order Fulfillment Options
While stores in your midsized retail chain may be closed to in-store shopping, customers can still make purchases. If you already have an online storefront, let your customers buy online and pick up in store (BOPIS). Just verify that your website has the right inventory counts, so customers aren’t frustrated with an “out of stock.”
Consider offering a contactless delivery service to your customers where you can bring the goods straight to their door after they pay for them online or over the phone. To reduce the impact on your staff, make delivery an option only for orders over a certain purchase amount. Curbside pickup is also an option, where customers can have an employee bring a purchase right to their car door or trunk. Canadian big-box stores like Best Buy, Michaels and PetSmart currently offer curbside pickup, and you can too, provided you comply with the retail regulations of your local province. Whether you offer BOPIS, delivery or curbside pickup, install signage at your store so customers are aware of these options.
Tip: Look ahead to the future. Google Shopping has recently announced product listings will be free in the U.S, and the offer will be expanded globally before the end of 2021, so start preparing to list goods in their Google Search Inventory.
Stay in Touch with Your Customers
Now more than ever, you need to connect with your customers. Your customers are likely at home, and just a click away from Facebook and other social media platforms. It’s time to reach out and continue to build relationships.
If you already have a website, social media accounts and email marketing, take stock of your web presence. Do you have up-to-date information regarding your operations during COVID-19? It’s not enough to have it on your website, make sure you push it to your customers via email and social media.
Leverage your existing email list to inform customers on timely topics like your stores’ new operating hours, regulations and order options. Don’t have an email list? Use your “downtime” to implement an email marketing campaign to target past and current customers. Try to brainstorm creative ways to showcase new merchandise through Instagram or Facebook Live video. The focus is to just let your customers know you’re here, you’re ready to get them what they need and that you’ll all get through this together.
Run Special Promotions
Don’t miss out on potential sales during COVID-19 – and get creative. Use all of that great social media and online presence you’ve established to advertise special promotions.
With so many kids and parents stuck at home, the need for activity kits, books, puzzles and other forms of entertainment is higher than ever. Look for ways to capitalize on their needs by creating special packages with toys, games and other things that can help beat boredom.
Does your store sell kitchenware? Create a home baking kit with the pans and ingredients families can use to bake a cake or a batch of cookies. Google Search Trends can reveal common coronavirus concerns and questions as well as offer a look at what consumers are searching for during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Catch Up on Admin Work and Training
The store isn’t bustling, but this is no time to rest. Use your new spare time to do your administrative tasks so your store runs smoother when the COVID-19 pandemic ends. You may want to:
- Deep-clean the store from top to bottom
- Rearrange your merchandising to showcase new items the upcoming season
- Clean and purge your files, or even digitize old paperwork
- Organize and clean your customer database
- Train on software like Magstar ERP or other systems
- Recycle any old signage, flyers and other materials
Looking to the Future After COVID-19
We don’t have all of the answers for the COVID-19 timeline and how the world will change, but one thing is clear. The time for midsized retail chains to pivot and adapt to meet new consumers’ needs is NOW. Failure to do so will leave you behind when the pandemic is over, and debts need to be repaid. Give yourself the best chance of survival by operating the best way you can today.
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