Retail Spring Series: How to Encourage Customers to Shop at Your Store Post-COVID-19

It’s unquestionable that the past several weeks have been challenging for retailers, but as the adage goes, this too shall pass.

While the retail winter isn’t over yet, we’re starting to see hints of spring on the horizon. Some countries and states are considering reopening their economies, and certain parts of the world are already flattening the curve. 

Retailers will start seeing business pick up again (some will experience this sooner, but it will eventually happen for everyone), so you have to be prepared. And one of the top things you should do when this happens is to encourage your loyal customers to start shopping with you again. 

Here are some tips to help you do just that.

1. Cover your bases when it comes to customer comms

The first order of business: tell people that you’re open, what you’ve been up to, and why they should come back. 

Touch base with existing customers

If you collect your customers’ details (and you totally should), now is the time to go through your customer lists so you can start communicating with them. If you haven’t done so yet, segment your customers into groups based on their demographics or purchase history. 

You can, for example, create a group for your VIPs and top-spenders and craft special messaging for those customers. 

Vend Tip

If you’re a Vend user, you can easily view your entire Customer list by clicking “Customers” in the app and export to use outside Vend.

Or if you want to send a more targeted message, use your Sales Reports to find details of your most loyal customers or those who have purchased a particular brand in the past.

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Craft your messages

You have your customer list. Great! What exactly should you tell them? Here are some suggestions:

Give them a heads up that you’re open and what your business hours are. People can’t buy from you if they don’t know you’re back in business, so tell them straight away that your store is open. 

You should also remind customers about your business hours, and include your contact details in case they have any questions. 

Reassure them that it’s safe to shop. Consumers will have some health and safety concerns about shopping offline, especially at the beginning. You can alleviate those concerns by implementing new policies and safety measures. 

Consider doing things like sanitizing your store more often, positioning fixtures and displayers farther apart, and limiting the number of people inside your store. 

Then, communicate those policies to your customers. List them out in an email. And for easy reference, you may want to have a page on your website that’s dedicated to all things health and safety, that people can always come back to. 

Tell them about what you have in stock. Finally, tell — or better yet, show — people all the cool products they can buy at your store. Send messages highlighting new arrivals or items that they would find useful as they emerge out of lockdown.

Bonus points if you can send them product recommendations based on their purchase history.

Vend Tip

Have you checked out Marsello? It’s a loyalty and marketing automation tool that makes it easy to create personalized campaigns. With Marsello, you can send targeted communications based on each customer’s behavior, purchase history, and brand interactions, so messages will resonate more with shoppers.

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Use the right communication tools

How exactly should you relay your messages? That depends on your customer base. Many modern shoppers prefer digital communication channels, so email and SMS messages are great options here.

Use tools like Vend + Marsello so you can segment your customers and send personalized messages quickly and easily. Another benefit of using these tools in campaigns is that they make it easy to measure your results.

Marsello can generate reports on open rates, clicks, and even sales tied to each campaign, which helps you determine your ROI and allow you to figure out ways to improve. 

That said, if you have direct and personal relationships with your customers, then more traditional methods — such as calling them on the phone — may be a better option. 

The bottom line? The right communication channel may vary, depending on your business and customer groups. Have a think about who your shoppers are and how they would like to hear from you, then go from there. 

2. Keep serving customers from afar

Not everyone will be rushing back to the store when lockdown measures are lifted. There will be a good amount of people who would prefer to keep their distance while shopping, and your business should be able to support that. 

Here’s how.

Go omnichannel

Going omnichannel is just a fancy way of saying that you need to sell both online and offline while making sure that those two channels are tightly integrated. 

Connect your POS system to your ecommerce store and see to it that your inventory, sales, and customer data are synced between the two systems. That way, you can manage sales and orders from one platform. It also saves you from having to do tedious admin work and double-entry. 

Having a tightly-integrated system allows you to sell both online and offline without missing a beat. You can serve customers on all channels, without having to worry about inventory discrepancies or mismatched sales and customer records. 

You can streamline your business and serve shoppers no matter where or how they prefer to buy from you. 

Vend Tip

Vend integrates with the top ecommerce solutions — including BigCommerce, WooCommerce, and Shopify. Open your store to the world by combining Vend’s easy-to-use POS and inventory management with the best ecommerce platforms on the planet. Manage your online and in-store operations from one place while launching your brand into new markets.

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Improve your store’s online presence

People who aren’t keen to shop offline will turn to Google to find the products they need. That’s why it’s important to beef up your online presence. You want your store and products to show up on Google when local shoppers enter a relevant search. 

To that end, make sure your website is optimized for search. You can do that by publishing locally-relevant content, obtaining high-quality links, and optimizing your site’s headers, images, and meta-descriptions.

Another way to boost your online presence is to have your store and products more visible in Google. This is a must is you’re implementing curbside pickup. Local product searches (e.g. “red dress near me”) have surged over the last few years, indicating that shoppers are increasingly turning to online search tools when looking for stores to visit or products to purchase offline.

What’s more, data from Google found that 76% of people who search on their smartphones for something nearby visit a business within a day, and 88% of those who conduct a local search on a mobile visit a related store within a week.

Clearly, getting in front of people searching online opens up massive opportunities for offline traffic and sales. 

Fortunately, there are a number of apps that let you do just that:

Pointy – Point gets your products online instantly, so you can have more customers walking through your doors. 

A Pointy page is created automatically when you install the app, and your products will appear on your dedicated Pointy page. The solution also helps your store and products show up in search results. 

NearSt – NearSt is a technology company with a mission to get people back into high street shops. Their technology pulls the inventory from your store and brings them into Google, helping people nearby find products in local shops.

Simply install NearSt then enter a few basis shop details. NearSt starts receiving an automatic regular feed of product information from your POS, which it will then use to create a live view of all the shop’s in-store products in the shop’s Google business listing.

Do note that in order for these to work, the solution you use should integrate with your POS system, so it can sync your inventory and only display items that you have available in-store. 

The good news is if you’re a Vend retailer, you can easily connect to either Pointy or NearSt and get your Google listing up and running in no time.

Give people the opportunity to experience for store or products from their homes

Find creative ways to showcase your products and store online. In addition to taking great product pictures and publishing attractive posts on social media, see if you can bring the retail store experience to your customers. 

For example, hip-kid, a store that sells apparel, toys, and accessories for kids, works with customers via Facetime to help them find the right products.

hip-kid is also running an initiative called “Zoom Around Town,” a virtual shopping experience where they show shoppers their new items — which are available for contactless curbside pickup, local delivery, or shipping. 

3. Come up with compelling promotions

Your customers may need an extra push to get them to buy, and this is where promotions come in. 

The right offer depends on your products and sales objectives. If you’re trying to move surplus stock, for example, then a BOGO offer or free gift (of the extra stock) could be a good way to go. 

If the main goal is to increase basket or ticket sizes, then you’ll want to explore “spend and save” or “spend and get” promotions (e.g., Spend $100 get a free gift).

Vend Tip

Vend makes it easy to run all kinds of offers. Our built-in Promotions enable you to easily run in-store discounts and sales and our powerful reports let you track how they perform. Promotions let you set up offers on all or selected products, in just a few simple clicks — without the need for spreadsheets or manual uploads.

Plus, live promotions automatically update to include relevant products, customers, or outlets as they’re added into Vend.

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It’s time to ramp up marketing and customer outreach

Consumers are bound to start shopping again, and the retailers who can connect with shoppers early will be in the best position to win. 

Whether you’re in a part of the world that’s still on lockdown or you’re in a place that’s already entertaining the thought of reopening, you need to think about — and act on — steps you can take to get people shopping with you again. 

Remember, spring is coming. It’s time to gear up.

About Francesca Nicasio

Francesca Nicasio is Vend's Retail Expert and Content Strategist. She writes about trends, tips, and other cool things that enable retailers to increase sales, serve customers better, and be more awesome overall. She's also the author of Retail Survival of the Fittest, a free eBook to help retailers future-proof their stores. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+.