It has never been as important to stay ‘relevant’ to your customers as it is right now. Sudden and seismic change has prompted a sea change in consumer motivations and priorities. This means we are in a bit of a ‘do or die’ era for businesses of all sizes. But it isn’t all doom and gloom. Change, whether chosen or forced upon us can be a catalyst to growth.
In six short months consumer expectations and buying triggers have changed beyond recognition. Now, more than ever, it is crucial to keep asking yourself what your customers are looking for not only from your products and services but also from the process of buying from you.
Firstly, do not assume that customers or clients can see how you are keeping them safe when they buy from you: tell them over and again what you are doing on their behalf. Enhance your signage, train staff to talk to customers with a clear message about your systems and use your advertising, email and online presence to communicate your hygiene processes. Initial research in retail and hospitality is showing that customers are more likely to return to venues that are well organised and strict with their Coronavirus rules than those who are adopting a more relaxed approach in the hope that customers will work it out for themselves.
Secondly, consider the wider implications of lockdown life on ongoing demand patterns. Retail sales are improving, and the food sector is particularly strong. ‘Life at home’ has become a very strong influence on buying habits. Can you adapt your offering to include or highlight products that are part of this trend? Quality local food, ingredients or ideas for home cooking, family activities and home fitness are just part of the opportunity. And, items that haven’t really been significant online purchases prior to the pandemic are now everyday online purchases as customers seek to minimise their physical interaction with shops. If you don’t offer online sales then now really is the time. What about Home Delivery or Click and Collect? If this isn’t feasible at your premises, consider teaming up with other businesses to offer a range of products to customers. This splits costs for you and offers a benefit to the customer.
Staying ‘relevant’ will ensure your business stands the greatest possible chance of survival and growth. Doing nothing is not an option. Customers want to feel confident that they are safe when they spend their money with you. This is something we took for granted pre Covid. Now it should be a crucial part of your message. Sales growth has always been about giving customers what they want and what they want is changing. Make sure you don’t miss out.
Small Business Advisor
Consultant to the Speciality Food and Hospitality sectors
Founder of an Award Winning Online Local Food Business