Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation. -Zig Ziglar
We are all in this together like no other event in recent history; the current crisis has the attention of the entire world. For those in the business sector, the atmosphere is tense and unsettling. Yet, crisis breeds opportunity for those who are ready to grasp it. There is hope. You can not only survive; you can thrive.
Three-fourths of shoppers polled by Coresight Research indicated that they are currently practicing social distancing. Billions of dollars are now being used to purchase items online, maybe never to return to the mainstream of brick and mortar stores.
Many stores where consumers would have shopped are experiencing an increase in online sales. This shift could become permanent. Online operations require only a fraction of the crew of a brick and mortar store. “Value retailers,” such as TJ Maxx and Kohl’s may move to the forefront, while luxury brands scramble to be seen. We are at the beginning of a new era.
By only looking at past retail trends and the current state of the world’s crisis, the picture looks quite bleak. We are all in this together and where others see walls of insurmountable problems, informed entrepreneurs see stepping stones of opportunity. No one can predict the future, but we can prepare for it.
Now is the time to reevaluate and recreate your business and step ahead of the changing business climate by considering the following practical steps:
1. Know the Trends
Social scientists tell us that people will continue to stay at home more often even after the crisis ends. Consumers are hesitant to return to large crowds and exposure to many around them. They also report that they have found new connections and established new habits that will keep them closer to home. They have become more self-sufficient, and are enjoying doing so.
History tells us that consumer behaviors always shift during times of disaster.
Many people who would have never considered online shopping before are experiencing the benefits of online shopping today. Look at the grocery store chains, for example. This is an industry that is being revolutionized. March 2020 grocers saw an increase of 167 percent in online shopping over last year. Every major grocery retailer is seeking ways to accommodate the needs of its customers, from online coupons to free delivery service.
Know what is happening around you.
2. Embrace the Change
It is hard to see the former way of running your business fade away. During this time of transition, consider what makes your business tick. What are its strengths? What values do you hold? How can you carry this ahead to this new era of e-commerce? Are there some things that have been holding you back? Now is the time to reevaluate and recreate.
Having a strong online presence is required for a business to flourish in the new normal.
3. Go with the Flow
Knowing that online shopping is the new normal and no longer the wave of the future, how can your business adapt? Do you want to go completely online, or could you meet your customers’ needs with a mix of avenues? Consider your options and be willing to try new options. Brainstorm offers to test for a specified period and be okay with adjustments if something doesn’t work. Give your customers calm assurances that you are adapting and invite them to join you.
Ask for the email address and send quality offers to your customers to shop your online store.
4. Reach Out
As your business is reshaped, make a special effort to communicate effectively and provide a way to listen to your clients and staff. Create a survey that encourages their participation and input. Find out what your customers and employees are experiencing, and what is important to them. Reread all of your communications and make sure that they do not come across stiff and stilted. Your customers’ and employees’ opinions can make or break your business.
Insights can move your business forward!
5. Increase Empathy
Take time to connect with the feedback that you receive. Numbers and charts will only take you so far. What are the stories of those with whom you deal? What are their challenges? How has this experience shaped them? How can you help?
Let your customers know that you understand the changing climate and that you care.
6. Invest in Visibility
Keep your brand and images of your storefront, products, and employees in front of your customers and potential clients. Make sure that your online presence and communications are warm and inviting. Comfort is a huge commodity at this time. Use warm, soothing tones and inspirational quotes and words of encouragement. Incorporate videos that allow them to still see you and other staff members. Offer online chats and opportunities for connection and conversation within your online site.
You should be marketing your online store to ensure a steady flow of customers.
7. Take Nothing for Granted
Customer loyalty may be less secure as online shopping becomes an option. Make sure that as you offer your products online, the experience is quick, positive, and productive. Realize that your customers may be enticed away unless you remain relevant to them. Build a new network of potential customers. Put a focused amount of time and effort into generating new leads while keeping contact with your seasoned customer base.
Marketing segmentation creates a better overall experience for your old and new customers while increasing your store’s ROI.
8. Accept that You Can’t Do This Alone
Your products are top-notch and you are great at what you do. That doesn’t mean that you are expected to be a natural at building an online store. Be willing to learn from others, hire e-commerce, web development and digital marketing experts as needed. Visit a variety of sites that can serve as inspiration for your own, and communicate these to your consultants.
Using e-commerce experts vastly increases the likelihood of your store’s success.
9. Take inventory
After each new venture, take time to evaluate what is working and what is not. Offer short-term incentives and see if those resonate with your customers. Drop what doesn’t work and focus on what captures their attention. Realize that your online store is fluid and easy to adapt.
Let the advantages of an online store work for you.
10. Stay Positive
Do not abandon your dreams and plans for your business. Instead, customize them. Try steps that are easy to redirect. Plan for the future with a holistic mindset. Speaking of what lies ahead in hopeful tones will stand out in stark contrast to much that your clients are hearing from other brands. This will create a sense of confidence in your brand and staying power.
Don’t let go of inventory or future plans too quickly learn to pivot and adapt.
You are conducting business in a historically shifting and significant time. By learning and keeping informed of present trends will help you build your brand on your a strong foundation.
We are all in this together and one lesson that has been learned during the COVID-19 crisis is that we can’t become complacent. Storms often clear the path for future growth. By following the steps listed above, you will be able to evaluate the strengths and needs of your business and emerge stronger than ever before.