The second in our series of blogs- Top Tips for High Street Business Survival- with expert Clare Bailey, AKA The Retail Champion. Referred to as a 'Walking Encyclopaedia of Retail', Clare is one of the most well-known and respected retail experts in the UK, with unrivalled knowledge on retail, high streets, and consumer matters.
Here Clare takes you through why it’s important to make your business both available and findable, to existing and new customers…
With lockdown disrupting everyone’s lives, people are spending more and more time online, every day! If you’re a business that’s been forced to close, use the time wisely- if your customers are spending more time online, so should you.
In particular, you’ll probably find more customers engaging with social media so in turn you will need to adapt and make yourself more available on these social channels. It may feel like you’re spending long hours on email or phone, but being available is critical right now.
If a potential customer has questions about a product you stock, if you aren’t able to respond to them (and almost immediately), unless they are staunchly loyal to you, they will move on to the next business – the one who is available gets the sale.
We’re not suggesting you should be glued to a device 24-7, BUT it’s a good time to get your head round have auto responding on social platforms and having this in place for when you aren’t’ available- this will at least reassure your customers that you will reply to them as soon as possible.
It’s also a good time to make sure you’re findable. Whilst you can’t open physically for browsing, your “Google My Business listing” (presence on Google Search and Maps) will appear high up in search if you make sure it is well optimised, such as including lots of relevant words about the categories of products you sell /services you offer. This is FREE service offered by Google, which can include key contact information, opening hours (for click and collect – we’ll come onto that in later blogs), images of products and reviews.
Inviting your most well-known customers to leave reviews on Google, Facebook, Trip Advisor, Booking.Com, etc. (whatever platforms suit your business best) is also a really great way to increase your visibility and make you easier to find. If you ask nicely, you’ll find people are willing to step up and support you in this way- you can always offer a little incentive like a discount on their next purchase if they oblige.
The most important consideration is to be “open for business” even when you can’t be in the real world. The only way you can do that is to be ready to deal with customers via various channels (social, email, phone for instance) and at times when they are not working themselves, such as evenings and weekends. So make sure you set up your notifications, stay on top of customer communications, and never miss a message, let alone a sale.
For more information on using social media, including some interesting stats about sales increases independent businesses have seen by using social communications see www.maybetech.com who are part of the High Street Task Force and check out their their blog.
For more Top Tips to help High Street Businesses during lockdown and beyond- see Clare’s blog series here: www.welcometosheffield.co.uk/makeyourselfathome/high-street-business-survival along with recordings of Clare's recent webinars on how businesses can continue to operate during lockdown restrictions.
As always, Business Sheffield’s team of advisors are available to support any businesses that need advice and guidance. Contact the team on 0114 224 5000 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org if you need to talk to someone about your business situation.