Don’t shut down in lockdown

14th April 2020

Take your proposition online… And fast.

The world may be on lockdown, but some businesses are still thriving, including many surprise contenders. Consumers are consuming, but now finding different ways to shop. Businesses are fast realising that standing still isn’t an option. It may be a step into the unknown, but everyone else is taking that same step and the learning curve has never been more level. Isn’t it time you rethink how you engage with your customers and get back on track? Many ‘traditional’ methods may currently be obsolete, but limitation lends itself to innovation, and the options are many and varied. Some may be temporary during lockdown, but others may revolutionise the way you do business for ever.

Even before the world was pandemic-struck, social media was fast becoming the biggest global retail platform, through both paid and organic promotion, far out-performing most individual small-business website sales. Now, with almost everyone at home, and social connections a high priority, social media web traffic is soaring and business could potentially be booming.

Furthermore, with practically every person of purchase-power age accessing online content via mobile, targeting your market is more focussed.

So your physical doors are closed? That doesn’t necessarily mean your business has to be. Think online, think social and think mobile-first.

Your website

Ensure your visitors have a place to be taken to once they’ve seen your social promotion. Update your website, refresh images, rewrite content and be sympathetic to the current climate, and make it known that you have done so. If your site is unchanged, the impression may be that you’ve left the office in dust. Remind people you’re still open for business, albeit online. You’ll also prevent a stream of calls and emails checking if you see if you’re open if you do.

Your response

Consider how you’ll manage enquiries – as they may come thick and fast and from all over the world. Over the phone may be overwhelming, so investigate your website platform as many have existing shop templates that can be created in a day. Even an online form may help stem the flow and make orders more manageable. It’s incredibly easy to set up a digital shop, and you can always tweak any imperfections as you go. Right now, time is of the essence.

Your support

Things may be a little more complicated than straightforward orders, and you may need to offer additional customer support. Aside from employing people to work from home, manning calls, supporting through live chat and answering emails (do employ if you can!), consider chatbots and autoresponders to deal with the bulk of enquiries. As they can be used 24/7, they can also handle anything out-of-hours or from different time zones.

Your self-promotion

Be seen! Every day your customers shop elsewhere, new habits are being made. Dust off your old newsletter and get in touch. Embrace local targeted Facebook advertising. The Facebook Ad Manager is exceptionally easy to use and can help you get advertising up and running quickly to help you start generating sales. Take advantage of big-business distribution flow interruption and encourage customers to “shop local” with you. Word of mouth is also huge right now – retarget your existing customers, support them, and they’ll support you – and probably with reinforcements.

Agile communication

Everything has changed overnight. It’s time to adapt and evolve to this new world and understand what it means to your brand. Fortunately, it’s new for almost everyone, so learn from others’ successes and mistakes. Whatever you do, however, keep communicating. Consider context and opportunities – they may arise in places you’ve never previously even thought of. Consider your audience now, and how they’ve had to adapt and change, and be sympathetic to their new world too. Keep things relevant. Be human, be helpful. Remember, now is not the time for a hard sell.

Your social media

You might not be in a position to answer the phone or handle an inbox full of emails, but communication is critical. Inform people through your social channels – let your community know and they’ll understand. Your social channels are perfect for product launches and updates, reaching a far wider audience instantly and at low cost. Again, stay human, stay real, stay relevant and be considerate.

Be Opening Day ready

One day, restrictions will end and you will be able to reopen your physical doors. But business will probably never go back to the way it was before. With online purchasing as the new standard, you may never experience the same level of footfall again, and the brand intimacy you’ve developed with your customers is now likely to pay dividends. How you change the way you do business today will have far-reaching implications on how you will continue to run your business in the future. The retail arena has completely changed, for businesses and consumers alike.

The way in which you support your customers now will determine their loyalty and impact your growth. Embrace what will be the biggest driver of digital transformation that the world has ever seen and use it to your, and your customers’ advantage.

And if you want to talk further about your digital transformation, we’re here to help.