Lockdown has affected every business, but as shops and retailers get ready to re-open their doors following the third lockdown, the main question on business owners’ minds is: how can I find customers after lockdown?
Although restrictions are lifting, businesses are being faced with an unfamiliar climate – and with a much warier customer. This means you might need to find different ways to make customers feel more confident shopping with you.
In this blog, we’ll go over some of the steps you should take which will help you find customers after the Coronavirus lockdown is eased.
Research Your CompetitorsIt’s always a good idea to keep tabs on the competition, but even more so right now. Just like you will have had to adapt your business to your customers’ new needs, so will they. Look into what new services they’ve been offering, new product launches, and the things they’ve stopped doing – and look at how you can muscle into their offering.
Can you adapt to offer those same services and more? Or will you do something completely unique to differentiate your business from the rest?
You might discover that some of your competitors have folded and are no longer in business. In this case, you can tap into their existing audience by launching products or services that these businesses used to have.
Recognise How Buyers’ Spending Behaviour Has ChangedAccording to Trading Economics, consumer confidence dropped drastically from -7% in March to -34% in April 2020, which is the lowest it’s been since the height of the recession in 2009.
This Statistica graph shows that the percentage of consumers who say they shop for clothes online has increased by almost 21%, with shopping for electrics online increasing by almost 14%. The biggest jump in online shopping is seen in the supermarket industry, with a huge increase of over 32%.
The main customer trends following the Coronavirus lockdowns show that customers are 1) less confident in making purchases, and 2) turning to online shopping.
This means that one of the first steps your business will need to take is putting in place safety measures to make sure they feel safe to visit your business. You can do this by:
• Carrying out a COVID-19 risk assessment
• Displaying your risk assessment notice as a poster in your shop window
• Sending out a flyer to let customers know the measures you have in place
• Adding your safety measures to your website FAQs
If possible, you could also take part of your business online and offer an online pick-up or takeaway service if your customers would feel safer doing that.
Not sure if that’s what your customers really want? There’s nothing wrong with asking them! Send out a survey asking how you could improve your current offering and what would make them feel safe to visit after lockdown.
Make Sure Customers Know You’re OpenMany businesses have been closed during the lockdown (and before, depending on what tier they were in!) due to the rules set out by the government in January. However, as many begin to re-open, customers might not realise that yours is one of them.
There’s no such thing as over-communicating to your customers. Send them an email, put up a re-opening poster in the window, send out direct mail and put it on your website and social media to make sure they get the message.
For more ideas on advertising that you’re re-opening and on how to re-open safely, check out this guide.
Let Customers Know What Safety Measures You Have in PlaceThis, again, targets customers whose confidence might be knocked. A sure-fire way to boost confidence is by promoting all the awesome things you’re doing to keep your team and your customers safe when shopping with you.
The Government released 8 industry guides on re-opening, and a common theme throughout all of them is clear signage. This means signs for letting customers know any of the following so just think about what you’ll need specifically for your business:
• Social distancing
• Limited numbers
• Hand wash/hand hygiene
• Collection points
• Contactless payments only
• Re-opening date/times
• Do not visit if you are unwell
• Stay alert
• One-way system
• Don’t touch unless buying
It’s also a good idea to provide employees working at the point of contact with sneeze guards and visors to help keep them protected and further reinforce to customers that you’re taking safety seriously.
We’ve condensed these guides into one handy eBook and filled it with loads of free templates so you’ve got a checklist of all the safety signage you need to re-open safely. Or, why not shop by your industry on our Coronavirus safety signage online catalogue?
Use This as an Opportunity to Partner with Another BusinessMany businesses have found success since the start of the pandemic by partnering with other businesses who have a similar customer base.
Take Morrisons, for example. Not only are Morrisons the first big supermarket to have partnered with Deliveroo, who normally only work with restaurants and takeaway businesses, but they also partnered with Amazon, providing the groceries for their Prime Now service. They’ve basically revolutionised online grocery shopping!
We’ve also been doing a little partnering, with our sister company Bluetree Mask Box, who supply businesses with surgical mask subscriptions. With very similar customer bases, we knew our small businesses customers would definitely find face masks useful for re-opening their businesses safely.
Unprecedented times call for unprecedented service adaptations – who would you love to partner up with?
See If You Can Apply for a Government LoanThe UK Government has recognised that small businesses are going to be hit the hardest by the Coronavirus pandemic, which is why they’ve introduced The Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) for small and medium-sized businesses.
This allows SMEs to borrow between £2,000 up to 25% of their turnover, with a maximum loan of £50,000. For the first 12 months, the government guarantees that there will be no interest on the loan, and interest after the first 12 months will be 2.5% a year.
Find out if you’re eligible to apply here.
Make sure you’re safe to re-open to the public when restrictions are lifted by downloading our free eBook. We’ve included links to all of our free templates and advice on keeping safe. If you’re looking for more marketing and promotion ideas, be sure to check out the Think Big blog – it’s full to the brim with small business advice!