As retailers start to reopen, how should they convince consumers that it’s safe to shop with them?

As retailers are starting to reopen and consumers are itching to get out of their homes, a “new normal” shopping experience will need to be established to be successful. A same-old-same-old approach will not cut it.

It’s likely that shoppers will go back to the places they shopped at before the pandemic began, but with a higher need for in-store efficiency and cleanliness.

Just because stores are opening doesn’t mean consumers will come flocking though. We can look at China as a model. Although enterprises in China have begun to fully resume business, it takes time for consumer confidence to recover, and the traffic and sales of department stores and shopping centers have only recovered to 30% to 40% of normal as of April 2020.

However, we will see other industries that currently have high demand (such as furniture and home improvement stores) become just as busy or even busier than they were before the pandemic.

So, how do you convince customers that it’s safe to shop with you?

There are two approaches retailers can take depending on the current demand for their product/service:

  1. Steadily ramp-up marketing tactics with a staggered approach (low-medium demand)
  2. Gain market share quickly with an aggressive approach (high demand)

Communicate how shoppers should expect to shop with you now.

People want to feel safe and comfortable as they return to their physical shopping experiences, and retailers should remove as many obstacles as possible to provide a positive experience.

As mentioned before, a lot of consumers won’t feel comfortable entering a store right when it reopens. Whether you’re Best Buy or a small, local retailer, you should be hitting customers of all comfort levels. Some may only be comfortable shopping online, some will be open to curbside pickup, while some will have no problem entering your store. Offering a variety of options for consumers will help reestablish confidence.

What business practices have been adapted to protect employees and customers? Spell it out for them. If you’re offering curbside pickup, give customers specific instructions and expectations to follow in the order confirmation email.

Retailers’ most urgent mission at this time should be to provide a safe environment for employees and customers.

Use data to inform decisions

As always, data is power. Leveraging data to make informed decisions will always prevail. Businesses equipped with a single view of inventory, store analytics and up-to-date information about customer digital buying behaviors will quickly be able to prioritize which stores to open and what stock is needed to support popular products.

Grigorios Reppas, COO at Advan Research, states, “Store owners can use a wide variety of data to understand buying habits from before and during this crisis and apply this data to track the recovery and adapt their business models.”

Geolocation for example can help retailers gain understanding by comparing foot traffic data over time to identify where the more loyal shoppers are located.

Digital advertising targets your audiences when, where and how they’re looking online. 

‘It is important as local business owners to really listen to what your consumers are saying about their experiences,” says AMG Sales Manager Jacque Blackwell.

“Now is a great time to engage with them both in person and digitally through email or social channels. What are people saying who have purchased online vs curbside vs instore? How do those shopping experiences differ? And how can you speak to everyone without offending anyone? You can use data and stats to help scope your reopen plan, but you will need to focus on your local community and sentiment to know what is right for your business in your local area.”

The following tactics are great ways to communicate the status of your business:

  1. Digital display – includes geotargeting
  2. Social media marketing
  3. SEO/SEM

Check out our post on reengaging your audience in times of crisis for more tips.

Digital advertising is our expertise and we’re very good at helping local businesses through times like these.  We’re here to talk it through, be a partner so you can stay top of mind with your customers, reach the right audiences and make it through this challenging time. Let’s talk.

If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you adapt to the evolving recruitment landscape and ramp up your efforts, please contact us today.

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