Over the last several weeks and days, we have seen the COVID-19 situation unfold rapidly.
Consumers are panicking, supermarket shelves are being emptied, and social distancing measures are being implemented. So, how does coronavirus impact brick-and-mortar businesses?
It means that right now, it is more important than ever to strengthen relationships with your customers.
Luckily, in our digital world, there are plenty of innovative ways to stay connected to your customers throughout this difficult time. If you’re willing to adapt your usual business processes, you can continue to cater for the adjusted needs of your customers.
Here are some steps that brick-and-mortar businesses can take in order to keep customers through the coronavirus outbreak:
1. Make it easier for customers to shop from home
As the uncertainty surrounding coronavirus grows, the daily habits of consumers are changing drastically. Brick-and-mortar businesses can expect foot-traffic to be down for a while, if it hasn’t dropped already.
This is why it’s up to businesses to adapt and shift their sales channel mix. If it’s possible, businesses must shift online.
This has already proven to be an effective action taken by Chinese cosmetics company Lin Qingxuan, who was forced to close 40% of its stores as a result of the outbreak in Wuhan, China.
Instead of accepting defeat, the company leveraged digital technology to virtually engage with customers and drive online sales. According to the Harvard Business Review, the company achieved a 200% increase in sales compared to the previous year!
Don’t even know where to start with going online? Ask us! We’re more than happy to help you enter the online space, and it’s a simpler process than you might think.
2. Communicate with your customers
Given that this is an unprecedented situation that is rapidly evolving on a day-to-day basis, communication is key – whether it’s governments communicating with their citizens, medical professionals with their patients, and brands with their customers.
Despite the panic, most consumers can empathise with business owners at a time like this, so long as you keep everyone in the loop. Give as much notice as possible when you make changes to your opening hours, store policies, health and safety measures and whether you are choosing to temporarily close your doors.
Use your website, social media pages and email newsletters to reach out to your customers and assure them that you are doing everything you can to maintain a safe, hygienic and functional business.
If online shopping is indeed a possibility, make sure customers are aware of this, and show them how to do it. Introducing a digital loyalty app is a convenient and innovative way to communicate with customers anywhere, anytime, and facilitate a home shopping experience.
3. Contribute to the positive content being shared online
While people are wanting to stay informed about what’s happening in the world, our news feeds are currently filled with a lot of doom and gloom and misinformation surrounding the virus.
Why not share some light-hearted content to take people’s mind off the panic for a moment, and entertain them while they’re laying low for a while?
This won’t be perceived as “taking the situation lightly”; especially if your business is taking proactive measures to prevent the spread. It’s important for people to stay upbeat at a time like this, and sharing some positive content will make you feel good too!
4. Offer gift vouchers
If you operate a service-based business like a restaurant or a salon, you may want to encourage customers to purchase a gift certificate, so that they can return to your business quicker to redeem their voucher when things return to normal.
As we mentioned earlier, consumers can empathise with business owners at a time like this. By offering gift vouchers, customers can still support your business without exposing themselves to the risk of infection.
5. Home delivery and/or pick-up services
Restaurants and cafes can also consider implementing home delivery or pick-up services to cater for customers who still wish to treat themselves, but can do so from the comfort of their own home.
It’s important to remember that this too shall pass! Sit tight, and you’ll have customers back through your doors soon.
While this is undoubtedly an unprecedented and difficult time for us all, it’s important not to panic and to be adaptable to changing consumer circumstances. By implementing some of the above strategies, you can keep customers through the coronavirus outbreak.
If you’re in need of any advice, please feel free to reach out to us. Take care!
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