By: Christina Devlin, Retail Services Program Manager
Small businesses are among the hardest-hit by the COVID crisis. Some businesses have had to reduce hours, others to close doors completely, with no sure answer to how long this will last or what change will come next. Communicating with your customers and maximizing sales opportunities has never been more important.
Here are 10 actions you can take- and calls-to-action you can make to customers- during this time:
Sell gift certificates
Encourage your customers to buy a gift certificate now for something they are looking forward to getting later—a massage, a summer outfit, or a trip to the salon. They can even buy one for a friend as a surprise guaranteed to lift their mood!
Update your social media channels
Things are changing often right now. Keep your customers up-to-date by including new hours, closures, and details about online shopping and delivery options. Post every few days to interact with your customers, even if you are not open for business. Let them know how they can support you by online shopping, re-posting, or tagging your business on social media.
Promote (Lift up) your fellow small business owners
Consider creating a Detroit Business gift pack with gift certificates or products from your favorite businesses as well as your own, and cross-promote. Or create a Facebook referral chain with 5 other businesses on Facebook/Instagram by posting links to their page and asking those businesses to list yours and 4 others, and so on. Suggest that your customers follow those businesses and better yet, support them with a purchase.
Consider how to deliver product or services differently to meet your customers’ current needs or wants. Do they want curbside pick-up or indulgent self-care packages? What can you do now with what you already have? What can you do differently? Can you offer classes virtually on Zoom? Now is the perfect time to tap into your entrepreneurial spirit and try new ideas.
Make sure your online store is ready for shoppers
Feature inventory you have on hand to sell now. Promote products that are relevant to your customers based on the current climate. Do they need a pair of fancy house slippers for making laps from the couch to the kitchen, or a tiara to wear to their Zoom meetings? Consider free shipping and extending return policies. Be clear on available delivery and pick-up options. If you don’t have a web store, consider adding a “Shop” button to your Facebook business page.
Create some buzz and give customers something to look forward to by enticing them with merchandise for the upcoming season. Have an easy online ordering system in place. A note of caution- be transparent and realistic in listing expected delivery times so you don’t create a customer service issue.
Host a Facebook Live shopping party or coffee talk
Grab some wine and walk them through the merchandise you have on hand, or grab a cup of coffee and have a catch-up chat. This is a great way to stay in touch and stay relevant with customers.
Try to reschedule first
Many events and classes have sadly been cancelled. Ask customers to reschedule an event for a later date when it is safe to get together before offering a refund. Consider using enticements like free add-ons if needed.
Encourage your customers to consider local businesses before hitting “Buy” on Amazon
Small businesses often have the same types of items, and with Amazon’s current order fulfillment delays, they may get your items faster from a local retailer. Remind them if they are shopping local, they are helping keep people in their jobs and dollars in the local community.
Talk it out
Sign up for a free open office hour meeting with a member of the TechTown team. We are here to listen and to help: https://techtowndetroit.org/open-office-hours-intake/.
Want to talk more about what to do next? Sign up for an open office hour here.