The Covid-19 pandemic has affected people in numerous ways in 2020 and 2021. While the vaccination rate grows and social distance protocols are relaxed, retailers need to adjust to the new normal. For many shoppers, their behaviours have ultimately changed because of the pandemic. Small businesses need to refine their approach and processes to ensure that they deliver the best customer experience. Here is a short guide on how to implement some of the best business practices for the current shopper.
Optimise Your Online Store
During the height of the pandemic, we saw a significant increase in online shopping. For many brick and mortar retailers, this meant creating a website became a necessity. You should ensure that your website is equipped with clear information, an engaging story that customers and clients can easily access and a seamless way to click and shop. Consider adding the option for customers to click and collect their purchases or to choose same-day shipping. Ensuring that retailers can offer customers convenient shopping is key to maintaining success.
Implement New Safety Measures
As business owners, not only do we need to follow the health guidelines to ensure our health, but also that of our customers. It’s a good idea to establish protocols for social distancing that are clear and simple to communicate to customers and staff. Show your customers that whenever they step into the shop, they’re able to relax and shop safely. Consider having a clear tally of how many people can fit into the store and have dedicated hours within the day for elderly people to shop safely. Ensure that the best-selling items are front and centre for customers to easily find and check out.
Reduce Inventory Issues
One of the issues that popped up during the pandemic was supply chain disruption. The possibility of snap lockdowns mean small businesses need to plan ahead in case of shipping delays. Consider taking an analytical approach to your inventory system, understanding customer behaviour and trends and keeping up with the latest news. You may wish to employ AI software to manage your inventory and help you reduce shrinkage. With $46.8 billion worth of losses in shrinkage per year for retail, small upgrades can mean higher profitability and better customer satisfaction.
Convenience is Key
How much time does your average customer spend to complete a checkout? For local grocers and supermarkets, see if your employees need more training in produce identification or cash handling skills. If your business uses a self-checkout scanner, it may be time to upgrade your self-checkout to automatically identify items. Perhaps it’s time to reconfigure the layout of your shop to be more accessible for customers to find the best sellers. Think about all the ways you can improve your customers’ shopping experience.
Add a Personal touch
Now more than ever, influencers are dominating with their relatable marketing. Ask yourself, who are you targeting? Who uses your product? Set a friendly tone and approach for your business, and make your customer feel acknowledged when they enter your store. The best customer service practices involve a personal element. If you have a customer database, consider sending personalised emails or print materials. This will encourage your past customers to purchase again and build brand loyalty.
Answer Customers’ Questions
With so many options out there to choose from, it can be quite daunting for the average customer to choose a product. To deliver the best customer service, consider providing customers with reviews and tools on your website that can effectively pair customers with the right product. In addition, train your staff to handle customer questions and concerns in-store and online. This will offer your customers not only well-suited products based on what they need, but also provide them with a sense of empowerment.
Consider Ethical Products
Many consumers want to behave more sustainably, for both themselves and the planet. A recent Deloitte survey shows that nearly one in three consumers claimed to have stopped purchasing certain brands or products because they had ethical or sustainability-related concerns. Consider adopting sustainability measures and communicating them through social media with your customers. Connect with local organisations that reflect your business ethos, if possible.
Reflect and Realign
Many businesses have or will experience downtime due to the pandemic. Give yourself and your team time to reflect on their performance as well as their approach with clients. Don’t be afraid to change your strategy, take suggestions from your staff and listen to the data that customers provide you after their purchase. Feedback is key as it serves as an evidence-based way to improve customer service.
The silver lining to the pandemic for small business owners is that it has allowed businesses to take time to understand their customers again. Empower your team to understand and act on these points and continually adopt the best management practices for your business.
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