Roadmap to Retail Survival: Part 4
Customer Loyalty Accelerator (CLA) is here to help our Shopify and Clover merchant clients during this challenging period. You can learn more how the CLA app can help promote customer loyalty and speed your business recovery on the Shopify and Clover App Stores.
While we are weeks, if not months, before a true “coming out” period begins, making preparations now will help jump-start getting your business back up and running when the time comes. Different kinds of businesses will face different kinds of challenges to generate new consumer demand. Retail stores need shoppers willing to return in person or online; restaurants need sit-down customers in a new era of greatly reduced seating capacity.
At Customer Loyalty Accelerator, we want to help Shopify and Clover merchants survive in the short term and discover new ways to prosper in the “new normal” that is coming. So we’ve complied this list of 12 great ideas for retailers of all stripes to navigate and emerge from Covid-19 intact, and perhaps even stronger.
- Restaurant Seating: Coming out, restaurants are almost certain to face reduced seating restrictions. With nice weather upon us, consider getting the needed local approvals to expand seating into excess parking areas no longer needed and sidewalk patios. If you can, try adding some entertainment to make the parking/outdoor seating more inviting.
- Peak=Hour Pricing: Ideas for restaurant peak hour pricing have been around for a while, but never seemed to take hold. With restricted seating capacity, now may be the time to implement a variable pricing plan (edicts for disposable menus makes variable pricing even more practical). Consider offering super attractive specials and lower pricing to encourage traffic during slower periods, and higher pricing during peak hours. Communicate honestly and clearly with your customers about your peak hour pricing policies. They’ll understand, and you may be able to spread some traffic to offset the seating reductions.
- Gift cards: Gift cards provide retailers with an immediate infusion of cash and ensure that a customer will return to their business in the future. Gift cards can help you stay afloat until the crisis passes. To further incentivize customers, you can discount gift cards, or even collaborate with complementary local businesses to create co-marketing opportunities that can help you acquire new customers. Finally, to reduce the risk of human contact, you should consider a digital gift card program to include in your social media and email marketing campaigns.
- Build a “Pre-Order” Strategy: Customers understand that it’s an especially challenging time for local retailers. Community-based initiatives have taken off to support local small businesses and help them lock down cash. One approach has been to outright ask customers to pre-order popular products—either by paying a deposit or the full amount.
- Discount Under-Performing Stock: Non-essential retail will likely see a decline in demand, so businesses in this category are vulnerable to oversupply. Retailers’ main goal in the short term (4-6 weeks) is to make sure they aren’t sitting on cash held up in inventory or deadstock. Even well-run companies can have 20-30% of inventory as deadstock, so now is the time to address it.
- Pause Standing Orders with Suppliers: Retailers may want to avoid being stuck with inventory they can’t move. Rethink standing orders for raw materials with suppliers, and press pause on any auto-replenishing algorithms until you know more. The sooner you can cancel or defer the order, the better for your supplier relationship.
- Cut Shipping Costs: Shipping costs can eat away at your margins, so if you’re looking to cut back, we recommend the following:
• Manually fulfill orders where possible.
• Skip the fancy packaging. You can get free packaging from all major couriers in the United States (USPS, DHL Express, and UPS) and Canada (Canada Post).
• Shopify merchants can use Shopify Shipping, if you are a Shopify merchant. They’ve negotiated competitive rates with major carriers. Plus, you can print your own labels at home or at your store, and schedule pickups with UPS and DHL Express from the admin or directly with USPS and Canada Post.
- Apply for Government Relief: Sounds like a no-brainer, but many small businesses are uncertain about the resources available to them. Here’s a link to resources that might be available to your business: Government Relief Programs for Small Businesses Affected by COVID-19
- Reach out to your high-value customers: Since roughly 20% of your customers contribute 80% of your revenue, consider prioritizing your high-value customers to ensure their lifetime loyalty. Shopify and Clover Apps like Customer Loyalty Accelerator (CLA) can maintain strong relations with customers now and bring them back later. Keep your staff productive while working remotely, and stay in touch with your customers via text message and email. You can send personalized loyalty incentives to customers offering instantly-redeemable rewards to encourage spending online, or via your POS.
- Boost online sales: As consumers are social distancing and working from home, they’re spending even more time online than ever before. Focus on what you can do with your online store and digital marketing to compensate for reduced foot traffic.
TIP: If you’ve temporarily closed your brick-mortar shop, change your Yelp listings and Google Places info to direct customers to your online store.
- Create “social experiences” on social media: Customers who are in self-isolation are increasingly looking to social media for content and connection. Retailers should get creative about how they leverage their social media presence. From virtual showrooms to live-streamed yoga classes, stores are getting creative with their social media channels and tapping into their already-loyal audiences.
- Extend your return and exchange policy: Empathizing with customers’ uncertainty can go a long way. In light of store closures, returns and exchanges become more challenging and could prohibit online purchases. Simply put, people don’t want to be stuck with a product they don’t like. Extending your return and exchange policy in acknowledgment of the current climate could alleviate buyer doubt and incentivize online sales.
Roadmap to Retail Survival 4- Part Series
Part 4: Retail Demand Generation in the “New Normal” and Other Ways to Adapt
Customer Loyalty Accelerator is available to both Shopify and Clover POS merchants via their App Stores.
We offer a Three (3) Month FREE Trial so you can see the dramatic results for yourself at absolutely no risk.