Optimize your Business During the COVID-19 Pandemic with Our Coronavirus Tips for Stores
Like many businesses, retail has been impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Whether you’re dealing with store curfews or have already shut your doors, we know this is a challenging time, and we are thinking about you. While there are plenty of uncertainties (including the limit of toilet paper), there are things you can do to plan for this unprecedented time. We hope these tips are helpful to you and your retail business. But first, please take care of yourself and your staff.
1) Shift to eCommerce sales
Focus on current sales: Shoppers may not be able to visit your physical store, but you can serve them if you have an eCommerce site and/or an online marketplace account (Amazon, Walmart). Let customers know you’re open for business by sending them an email/SMS message, and by adding a message box on your site so users know they can place orders. Essential items, promotions and delivery options should be ‘front and center’. Ask your vendors if they are still drop shipping merchandise, and if they can offer you discounts so you can lower prices or offer free delivery. You can even be creative, and still allow ‘Pick up in Store’ on your website and offer pre-paid, curb-side pick-up when your customers arrive at your store. A great way to enhance your ‘Pick up in Store’ sales is through our partner Locally. Locally works with hundreds of brands to bring their website visitors to your store for quick & easy pickup.
Update your eCommerce site: Using this downtime, you can keep your team busy by prepping a new eCommerce site, making changes to your existing site or setting up a marketplace account (or any other project you normally don’t have time for). Retail staff are typically too busy to work on more long-term projects; use this time wisely and utilize your team by focusing on these projects now. When we get past these challenging times, you’ll be ready to launch new initiatives. Reminder: Whitelist new IP’s so your team can easily make changes while working from home.
2) Focus on your inventory
Get rid of excess inventory: If you have excess inventory, and many retailers do, consider auction sites such as eBay; and Facebook Marketplace to sell items locally. Accounts can typically be setup quickly and can be integrated with your retail point of sale software. This can be a good way to liquidate your excess inventory.
Complete physical inventory: Use this time to complete cycle counts and/or a full physical inventory so you will be prepared when business picks up. If you have the time, improve your day-to-day process so it will be easier to maintain accurate inventory throughout the year.
3) Offer virtual classes and consultations
While people are stuck at home, consider offering online classes, as opposed to physical classes or courses in your store. That way your staff can conduct classes (and customers can participate) without leaving their homes. There are plenty of options out there, including virtual classroom software, webinar solutions, mobile apps (Skype, Facetime), and many others.
This past week, our company flipped its annual client conference, which was scheduled for April in San Antonio, into a virtual event, instead of canceling the event entirely. By being agile, you can do the same and keep your staff and customers engaged; virtually instead of in your store.
4) Ramp up email marketing
Increase email marketing: Email marketing will help bring business to your website now. By increasing your email marketing efforts and offering incentives for online purchases, you can increase online sales. Offer home delivery, in store pickup (if you can), and curbside pickup for local shoppers.
Enhance email campaigns: If you have the time, enhancing your current email marketing may be another project worth doing now. Feel free to download our Email Marketing eBook for a list of email campaigns for retailers.
5) Increase social media engagement
Stay connected via social: Currently, there is a big spike in social media interactions as so many people are home practicing ‘social distancing’. Use this as an opportunity to increase your social media advertising and social posts- to stay connected with your customers, and drive traffic to your site. As your customers are scrolling through their social feeds, your business will stay top of mind and can offer promotions and encourage traffic to your website.
6) Perform data cleanup
Now is a great time to knock some items off your to do list that you’ve been putting off, and keep your employees working and productive. We already mentioned that it’s a good time to complete a physical inventory, but while you’re taking that inventory count you may also want to consider printing/reprinting tags and labels, cleaning up product lists and making any bulk or taxonomy changes in your retail software. Aside from making sure that all the items in your store are in your retail software inventory, you can also inactivate any products that you are no longer carrying.
Another, often neglected, area of many businesses are customer lists & CRM systems. We’ve already discussed the importance of email marketing, but in order to get the most of email, or any direct marketing your customer lists need to be accurate and up to date. Take this time to go through and remove emails that have bounced, fix typos in customer records and remove any duplicate customer records. Taking the time to do this now will improve the effectiveness of all your marketing campaigns in the future.
7) Schedule software updates
Software companies, such as Celerant, are constantly developing new functions and features to enhance the customer experience and improve productivity. However, while keeping your software up to date sounds simple, business owners know that these software updates require testing and often training for employees who use the software in their day to day jobs. If you are currently experiencing slower than usual customer traffic it can be a great time to schedule an update with your retail software provider and perform the necessary testing so that when your customers return you are ready with the latest software to help serve them.
8) Offer gift card promotions
Lastly, while larger gatherings may be discouraged right now that dosen’t mean people aren’t still celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, and other special events. Offering gift cards can be a great way for your customers to send a gift without worrying about wrapping, shipping and exchanging large packages. You can even consider offering promotions on gift cards to help drive even more traffic to your store, or website, from your current customers.
We hope these Coronavirus tips for stores help our retail clients during this unprecedented and challenging time. We at Celerant are taking the necessary steps so that our team can continue to support our clients, without interruption. With our 4 offices spread across the country, all of which participate in customer support, and a ‘work from home’ plan already in place, we are prepared and equipped to support our customers.
If any Celerant clients have questions on how any of these tips can be achieved with your software, please reach out to your account representative or email firstname.lastname@example.org