5 Creative Ideas for Retailers to Keep Sales up During the Pandemic

If someone asked you to list ways to boost your retail sales, what would you say? There are probably dozens of answers to this question, but most people would probably focus on building relationships with their customers.

Their answers would likely include spending more time talking with customers, getting to know them and their needs, and convincing them of the benefits of their product.

Naturally, they would wish for more prospects coming through the door, the kind they could get to know over time and build a relationship with.

Their ambition would be to be seen as the product expert within their communities.

Well, these suggestions have one thing in common: they require the store associate to interact with customers directly. 

Most retailers have made substantial investments to improve their brick and mortar stores and create a positive shopping environment in a bid to increase dwell time.

Sadly, COVID-19 has curtailed these efforts, making in-store customer engagement difficult. So, what other ways can you use to increase retail sales during the pandemic?

 

Rethink the Packaging of Your Products and Services

During the outbreak, everyone has to maintain a social distance and avoid crowded places. As a result, most restaurants are either empty or closed. 

However, creative restaurants are doing things differently to keep their staff employed, and their customers satisfied.

Let’s take the case of Guerrilla Tacos in Los Angeles, for example.

The restaurant makes emergency taco kits and delivers them to its customers. After placing an order online, customers have to wait for three hours for the kit containing 30 tacos to be ready, then pick it up from the restaurant’s pickup window. 

This initiative has kept 12 employees working, and the demand for the taco kits is high.

If you run a hair and beauty salon, you can create a customized kit for your clients to keep their hair beautiful. 

Many salons have made such hair kits to help clients color their hair from home. Such kits come with the hair color, gloves, and instructions on how to use it. 

You can include shipping fees within the cost, the way this New York-based salon does it.

If you own a food store, how about offering culinary video classes to your customers so they can learn great recipes and prepare meals from home rather than coming for a dine-in?

This strategy has allowed Fender to reach record sales in a year that appeared to be set for disaster once lockdowns started in March. 

Fender invested more in digital marketing and already had a webstore in place. However, they also made their guitar lessons free for three months. This resulted in a surge of sales among people eager to learn a new skill during the quarantine and made this year a most successful one for Fender.

Michaels has also recognized their customers’ need to stay creative in order to alleviate some of the stress and anxiety of the pandemic. So they introduced Boredom Busters, a resource page where they share videos and resources for kids crafts. 

In addition, they made it easy to shop for the necessary supplies on their website and offer curbside pickup for in-store orders. Michaels has seen a 350% engagement increase using this strategy.

In a nutshell, find a way to package your product or service, so it reaches customers with minimal personal interaction. Depending on the kind of service or product you offer, it may be online courses or pre-packaged kits. 

Not only will this bring in some much needed cash, but also ensure that your customers stay loyal even though they can’t visit you in stores.

Start Selling and/or Promote Gift Card Sales

Has your business been providing gift cards? If yes, it’s time to start promoting them to your customers. 

And if you haven’t been using them, offer them to customers so they can use them at a later date. You may promote gift cards via social media or email marketing to reach out to more customers.

You can opt for tradition cards that can be mailed to your customers, or start using eCards delivered through email.

Set up an Online Store

If your business has no online presence, then this is the perfect time to set up an eCommerce store. 

Rain has all the necessary features you need to set up a webstore that syncs with your POS and inventory. This makes running your business a breeze, as you can manage your store from one single platform. 

After setting up the store, you need to promote it through email marketing and social media to ensure your offers reach both potential and existing customers. 

Rain helps with that, too. You can easily collect customer emails at the time of the purchase or encourage them to opt in at any other point through targeted marketing messages.

Creating a website through Rain also ensures that your store is optimized for the search engines and mobile purchases, so you don’t lose customers over poor visibility in search engines or because of a cumbersome mobile experience. 

Show Interest in Both New and Existing Customers

When you find a new customer, never let the interaction end with a sale. Instead, shoot them an email, letting them know you truly appreciate their business. 

Let them know you’ll be there for them going forward, and try to address any problems they might have while making a purchase.

Seeking your prospects’ pain points and offering your service or product as a solution, also known as value selling, is one of the go-to ways for B2B retailers to close deals. As a B2C business owner, you can use the same approach to increase sales.

Similarly, don’t forget about your existing customers. Assure them that they are still on your mind even after they have bought from you. Reach out to them consistently but without nagging. 

By carefully scheduling promotions and emails to your previous customers, you can reap the benefits in the long run.

Turning one-off customers into repeat buyers can boost your ROI, and the same goes for turning repeat buyers into brand ambassadors. 

Chances are, these loyal customers will tell their family and friends about your fantastic service or product, which amounts to free promotion.

Make Sure Your Store Appears in Online Search Results

More than ever, people are using Google to find products and stores. You don’t want to be left out. That’s why you should ensure your store is showing up when consumers search for something related to your business.

If you sell LED bulbs, for instance, you want customers in your locale to find your store anytime they type something like “energy-saving bulbs near me.”

The best way to achieve this is to set up business listings on Facebook, Google, Yelp, and other platforms. 

When setting up a profile, be sure to include tons of details. The most essential are:

  • NAP (name, address, and business phone number). These details have to match with what’s on your site and other business listings.
  • Quantity and quality reviews which give you social proof
  • Accurate business hours. Never forget to update those.
  • Visual content, especially recent photos and your store’s virtual tour, if possible.

Adding user reviews to your profile or website is another powerful tool in your arsenal. 93% of users read online reviews before a purchase. Reading positive experiences of other customers might be the final nudge they need to do business with you. 

Even negative reviews can be useful, too. If you reply and show your willingness to rectify an issue, new users might be more forgiving than if you just ignored any negative feedback.

You’ll need to set aside extra time to tweak your business listings and make them more attractive, but the end result will be worth the effort: more traffic to your website and location.

 

Final Word

It remains unclear for how long the COVID-19 will continue challenging the world. Nevertheless, as a savvy business owner, you can implement a couple of creative strategies to ensure your business continues to thrive.

Notably, rethink the packaging of your offerings, consider selling gift cards to your customers, start an online store, improve follow-up conversations, and make efforts to improve your store’s visibility online. 

 

Heather Redding is a part-time assistant manager and writer based in Aurora, Illinois. She is also an avid reader and a tech enthusiast. When Heather is not working or writing, she enjoys her Kindle library with a hot cup of coffee. Reach out to her on Twitter

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