The Government has announced that non-essential shops can now open from next Monday (15th June) but shop owners need to have taken the necessary action to make the environment safe and “Covid Secure”.
The full government guidance on what preparatory steps needs to be taken before opening out your space to the public can be found using the following link:
The economic environment is expected to be tough in the retail market as we open the economy because consumers are still uncertain about their own financial position and about the virus in general that is still out there. Businesses are faced not only with new regulations that will change the look and feel of their space but will also need to deal with their customers who will now have a different mindset post Covid19.
Steps to Re-invent and Thrive
Business owners will need to change the way they operate in the immediate period from next week but also going forward in the long run because it is expected that the way we buy will change.
Innovation will need to be at the heart of the retail arena if we are still to keep the customer enticed into coming back for more. Long queues, face masks and hand-sanitisers does not actually leave a pleasant experience sparking joy as the best-selling author Marie Kondo would say.
The adoption of technology is going to offer the way forward for customer facing businesses as it has done for hundreds and thousands of office workers over the past twelve weeks.
So, what are the key steps you should be thinking about now to ensure your business not just survives but thrives going forward. Here are some suggestions:
Make it Personal
The lockdown has shown that those essential retailers that remained open have been servicing the local communities. Retailers therefore need to remind their customers why their business is such an important part of the community. You can add personal touches to the shopping experience such as a thank you note or a surprise small gift. Show your customers the human touch.
I will give you a small example, since the lock down I have been using the local farm for our regular fruit and vegetables via call and collect (see below) and a few weeks ago they sent me some new potatoes with a hand written note saying we have had a new crop and thought you would like to try some. This made me smile no end.
Click & Collect
Before the lock down the high street was already into trouble as more of us were buying on-line so obviously where possible this should be a way forward. Not all clients have a website ready for e-commerce and if not, it should probably part of your goal setting going forward. However, that does not mean you cannot offer this service now.
You can introduce a call and collect service whereby the customer calls in with the order, you take a payment via a credit card over the phone and give them a collection number and time to collect. In fact, one of our clients who is a hardware and building supplies store has been doing just that and very successfully.
Social Media has many negative connotations attached to it if you listen to the main news channels. However, it is a fantastic tool to showcase all you have to offer via your business. It is a great place to build your brand. If you are not fully au-fait with it then there are various on-line courses available at very reasonable prices (as little as £25.99 on offer) to get you started.
You can convert your Instagram and Facebook followers to long-term loyal paying customers who love your business.
Give them a reason to visit you
As we said that those customers visiting your shop are now going to have a different experience. So, make it a joyful one. If they need to queue, make it a bit more pleasant. May be they can browse products whilst in a queue or offer cool drinks on a hot day or may be some branded small umbrella’s they can use on a rainy day as we are sure to have a few of those!
You may even adopt queuing technology like you get in some busy London restaurants whereby they alert you when your number comes up.
Whatever you do and however you do it, now is the time to think about your customer’s experience when they shop with you.
It is good news that we are allowed to open more businesses to get our economy going but there is a possibility that there might be a second wave of the virus in which case those that have made the extra effort when getting back will have a higher chance of survival and better customer loyalty.
As accountants we have been working with businesses of all shapes and sizes and have a vast amount of experience and stories to share. No doubt sometimes it is a lonely experience being a business owner and that is when clients call us just to have a chat or discuss their business. We are experts at discussing your business and personal goals and working with you to achieve these.
We would love to hear from you as to what you are planning and how it all goes after Monday so get in touch. We want to help you to thrive in your business so call your contact at Myers Clark or if you are not a client and would like to talk, call me on 01923 224411 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I would be delighted to hear from you.