It’s so wonderful to see many of our high street stores re-opening this week. 2020 has certainly kept us on our toes so far. No more so than our independent store owners. You’ve closed, furloughed, protected, planned, worried, strategised and shown a huge amount of determination and creativity. And for that, we applaud you. Our high streets would be nothing without independent stores bringing inspiration, individuality and originality.
So what now?
Re-opening your stores (if you are able) is a huge decision and one that you’ve likely been deliberating for a while now. So whether you’ve already opened your doors or are still considering your options we’ve got some top tips on how to engage with your customers, stay relevant and ultimately thrive.
1. Be safe (and tell your customers)
We know you’re doing everything you can behind the scenes to make your stores as safe as possible for you, your staff and your customers. Make sure you make these measures public to reassure your customers that you’re taking their safety seriously and this is your top priority. Pop the information onto your website, your social media channels and maybe even a summary in your store window for passing trade. Although many shops have had the green light to re-open there are a lot of nervous customers out there who will need some encouragement, so knowing that their safety is of paramount importance to you can help provide the reassurance they need.
2. be flexible
While many customers are happy to come into your store there will be some who are understandably still quite nervous or unable to visit. Think about how you can still sell to these customers and minimise their time in store. Can you offer click and collect or direct orders through social media? Consider offering collection times when the store is closed so they don’t have to come into contact with other customers. Being flexible and understanding your customers’ needs can ensure you’re still engaging with them and offering a service they may feel more confident purchasing from you.
3. be creative
Many of you will have taken some time to reflect on your business over the last few months and be brimming with new ideas. There’s never been a better time to create new products, services, purchasing options, a website, window displays, the list goes on. Customers are ready and waiting to be impressed. Think about what you can do differently and what will get you noticed.
4. be wise
If you haven’t already then take the time to review your product range and critique it for today’s customer. The world has changed a lot over the last few months and our customers’ buying habits are evolving too. Do your current products work for today’s customers? Can you shop them easily? Do you need to rationalise your range? Which products make you the most profit – are they the ones your customers will see first?
5. be passionate
Lastly, but certainly not least, show your passion for your store and what you do to your customers. If you’re excited about re-opening and you share that with your customers then they will be too. It’s contagious. Customers love to know the face behind the store so get on social media and have a chat with them. Invite questions, ask for feedback, tell them a little bit about you (a video is always a good option), show them some behind the scenes pictures or videos. All this will convey your passion for your store and they will instantly engage with you.
Importantly there is no right or wrong at this time. Don’t be swayed by what competitors are doing or feel any pressure from others. Do what feels right for you and your business. Take your time and follow your gut.