Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently announced that all non-essential retail stores must close in England from November 5 until December 2. This is part of a new national lockdown instituted to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Unfortunately for retailers, this lockdown coincides with the first half of peak holiday shopping season. So, how can retailers adapt? Here’s some ideas:
Offer remote services
One of the top reasons why consumers visited stores in the first place is to get staff assistance. According to our 2019 Modern Consumer Research, UK shoppers consider in-store shopping better when they:
Need questions answered
Need an explanation of a product/service
Want help choosing what to buy
So, how can you leverage this information and translate the best parts of your store experience to your digital presence? Offer human contact and personalized assistance via remote appointments.
Remote appointments benefit retailers because they add a new revenue stream, build customer relationships, and boost customer loyalty. Customers benefit from the convenience of shopping from home, and personalized staff guidance.
Think about the experience of shoppers buying a camera as a holiday gift. One shopper may be searching for an action camera such as a GoPro, whereas another might be searching for a DSLR camera. These are drastically different choices, and a knowledgeable staff member can easily direct a shopper towards the right product for their needs.
Consider looking at Dunelm for inspiration. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Dunelm has been offering remote appointments for their ‘Made to Measure’ curtains and blinds business so consumers can still get the personalized assistance they need.
When asked about the impact of remote appointments, Dunelm said: “At a time when a large proportion of our business is non-operational, the ability to service our customers through these appointments provides a new and much-needed revenue stream.”
Implement curbside pickup
Are you offering curbside pickup yet? By allowing customers to schedule pickup times, you can control how many customers arrive at once, allowing for best-practice social distancing. This is a great alternative to shipping products, and it satisfies consumer desire for immediacy.
This method of shopping has drastically increased in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic, and will likely remain in demand over the next month. Some even predict that curbside pickup will become a significant part of the post-COVID shopping experience. According to a recent survey by Medallia Zingle, “87 percent [of consumers] want restaurants and other brands to continue to offer curbside pick up and other processes that limit the need for in-person visits.”
Start discounts early
If you are planning to offer discounts this holiday season, start now. According to eMarketer, UK shoppers are starting holiday shopping earlier than usual this year. Whether this is due to concerns about shipping time, or concerns about the economy, it’s clear that holiday shopping will be well underway by the time Black Friday comes about.
Shoppers will also be hyper aware of product pricing this year. In fact, eMarketer predicts that the UK will see a 16.7% increase in holiday ecommerce sales driven by shoppers looking for discounts.
By taking the best parts of in-store shopping and translating them online, retailers can get a leg up on the competition and diversify their revenue streams in the face of lockdowns.