2020 has been a year mired by the coronavirus; the unprecedented nature of the crisis has brought hardship upon many UK businesses.
Despite the undeniable disruption; The Office for National Statistics recently delivered promising news – the retail industry has grown by 12 percent, thanks to strong sales in non-food stores and record online buying. As further restrictions are eased throughout the coming weeks, as well as the mandatory implementation of face masks in shops; it’s likely consumers will feel more comfortable venturing from the house.
Success is dependant on a coherent dialog between stores and their customers. Smaller independent retailers need to take cues from well-established high street giants; digital communication is now essential in driving footfall and sales.
Traditional retailers have the tendency to resent online technology; believing that the internet is solely synonymous with e-commerce; the opposing entity diverting sales from the high street. Contrary to this assumption – a matrimony between the physical and the digital is absolutely intrinsic in navigating through the current economic uncertainty.
Social media is the cheapest way to advertise – even though you can pay to enhance each service’s potential; most widely used social networks are free. If you want to sponsor certain posts, you can target those within a specific radius relative to your business – thus, providing a highly effective and very economical solution to marketing.
Even in 2020; 53% of small businesses say that they actively use social media; the remainder claim that they don’t have the bandwidth, resources, time, money or energy. These excuses are simply void; engaging with the consumer should be of the highest priority. Social media helps you build brand awareness, increase your customer base and establish a rapport with current buyers.
By encouraging reviews, customer photographs and general comments; you can construct a dialogue between the business and your target audience. During the pandemic, it’s highly likely customers will have a variety of questions regarding your health and safety protocols. By using the messenger services provided on each social platform, you can directly contact your consumers and assure them that your store is a secure environment for all visitors.
Besides digital advertising – in-store contactless technology is revolutionising the way we shop. With Apple Pay and contactless payments already widely used – the natural progression appears to be futuristic shopping models such as Amazon Go. This ’grab-and-go’ concept eliminates the need for a store checkout – instead, shoppers scan their phones before entering; an app then automatically tallies up each item added to the customer’s basket – allowing people to simply leave when their shopping is completed. Upon exiting; Amazon sends the receipt to your account – with no queuing or human interaction required, technology like this could be an ideal way to adapt to the ‘new-normal’ instated by coronavirus.
While this technology might be out of reach for the vast majority of independent retailers; there are cheaper, less complicated alternatives. For the past 18 years, Quick Response (QR) codes have been utilised in marketing – while they became common place in Japan; in the West, the technology never amounted to anymore than a novelty.
Fast forward to 2020; restaurants are looking to protect their staff using QR codes linking customers to websites that allow them to order food directly to their tables. Workspaces are also using QR codes to book hotdesks, and a vast amount of public venues are using them to build their own CRM for track and trace purposes in the event of an outbreak.
Created by Claire Bailey – one of the most well-known and respected retail experts in the UK; “Independent Retailer Month” is a fantastic example of how digital media can be utilised to generate sales in physical stores. By generating community support, loyalty and raising awareness of smaller businesses – millions of pounds in revenue has been generated as people have discovered fantastic local shops.
Independent Retailer Month presents the opportunity to get in and support your local community. Despite the setbacks instigated by COVID-19; the dreams of small business are still alive, well and achievable with the adoption of the latest technological innovations, to both promote as well as streamline the retail experience.
If you’re wanting to expand your social network, creatively integrate technology with your business or simply build brand awareness; get in contact with Cordis. Using our varying expertise and wide knowledge of digital technology – we can communicate your brand to an audience emerging from lockdown. If you’re looking for a strong social media strategy, a striking website, cinematic videography and aesthetic promotional material; Cordis can help you!