The retail industry can feel like a rollercoaster – especially over the past year. The ongoing pandemic has thrown the industry many curveballs: stores closing for lockdown, delays at factories/manufacturers, delivery delays, etc. Some consumers have had their spending money drastically slashed due to layoffs and reduced hours, while others are online shopping more to pass the time at home. Quarantine, spending more time at home, and remote learning have driven sales for certain retail sectors like electronics, skincare, home fitness, and furniture. Brick-and-mortar retailers and clothing, sporting goods, and jewelry stores are some of the retailers that have taken the biggest hit from COVID.

So what does this mean for your retail business?

In times of uncertainty, retailers should focus on these four principles of retailing.

No matter what happens, these guidelines hold the test of time and are universal for all retail businesses.

Mobile Experience

A mobile-friendly website is a must. Over the past few years, people have been turning to their phones to do everything online – browsing, emailing, scrolling through social media, paying bills, and of course, shopping. The majority of web traffic and online purchases come from mobile over desktop. This means that if a customer or prospect is Googling your business, they’re probably doing it from their phone. If you have an e-commerce business, your customers will be more likely to be browsing your products and placing their orders via mobile too.

group of people on their phonesWhat does a mobile-friendly website look like? Your site should have:

  • Responsive template
  • Fast loading speed
  • Big, easy to read text
  • Links for phone numbers 
  • Link to directions for your location (if applicable)
  • Compressed images
  • Avoid Flash 

If you want to get a better idea of your website’s mobile experience, you can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.

Customer Service

We all know that terrible service can lose you even the most loyal customers. In today’s world, unhappy customers can lead to one-star reviews and a bombardment of negative comments on social media. Keep your customers happy and feeling acknowledged by responding to them as promptly as possible. Giving someone a timely answer to their question or concern can help you win more business and set you apart from your competitors.

Social media has turned into a customer service outlet. Dissatisfied customers often comment their grievances on a company’s social media page. There are two approaches to handling this professionally. You can comment back to tell the person how you’ll remedy the problem, or you can reply telling them to contact you by email or private message. Use your judgment to determine the appropriate response method. What matters is that your social media followers see that you care about your customers and attend to their problems.

Reviews/Testimonials

Google Reviews, Yelp, Trust Pilot, and other review websites have been transformative for many businesses. Consumers are more likely to trust a brand if they see it has positive reviews. Maintaining your business’s reputation on review platforms is one of the most effective ways to gain new customers. 

Encourage your customers to write reviews, especially those who have reached out about having a good buying experience or loving your products. Share testimonials, before & after photos, and reviews on your website and social media to help them get more visibility. You can also ask people to comment about their favorite products on your social media posts. 

If you have an e-commerce business, you might not know your customers personally as a brick-and-mortar owner would. However, you have the opportunity to have reviews for your merchandise so that buyers can describe how they like a product. Honest reviews will help you gain the trust of potential customers, which ultimately leads to more sales.

Show You Care

It might seem obvious, but it’s worth stating: show your customers you care about them. It’s arguably the most effective way to build your audience of repeat customers. If a buyer feels like you don’t value their business, they can find your competitors on Google and shop there instead – all within two minutes. Yes, you can lose customers that quickly. 

How you show your client appreciation depends on your business and your customer base. Offering them a discount for referrals or off their next purchase can both be effective. Of course, providing excellent service is a must to show you value each customer’s business, especially the unhappy ones. If you make a mistake with an order or there’s a problem with your product, offer the customer a complimentary gift or discount off their next purchase. Another option is offering exclusive sales or discounts to existing customers. At the end of the day, you know your customers and what they’ll appreciate, so use that as your guide.

Let these four basic principles be your compass to help you navigate through any changes or challenges. Making sure you meet these values will help you have a successful, sustainable business. 

Need help with your retail business?  Schedule a call today with one of our consultants and see how Retail Control Systems can help your business thrive!

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