There is no doubt that there is a growing wedge between small businesses and big corporations. It seems as if the COVID-19 pandemic has been pushing that wedge even further. Small businesses have had to adapt tremendously. One drastic pivot involves the ways to market a business during the pandemic. The ways consumers shop is changing, and small businesses must consider these consumer changes that will be in effect both during and after the pandemic.
What We Know
The pandemic has changed the consumer marketplace in countless ways. People are less likely to go into stores, making curbside pick-up a must-have. Nearly 44% of the top 500 retailers offer curbside pick-up. More contactless ways of conducting business are nearly expected of restaurants and stores. We know that 60% of U.S consumers order delivery or takeout once a week, so it is crucial to make the transaction as safe as possible for both the consumer and the employees. To keep up with the changing marketplace and draw in business, it is important to consider the importance of an online presence and having these forms of consumption available for customers.
The Digital Pivot
If your business didn’t already have an online presence, now is the most crucial time to build one. For example, in restaurants, digital ordering and delivery have grown 300% faster than dine-in traffic since 2014. There are numerous places to start when building an online presence. One of which is to create a mobile app or website. Both platforms allow you to market your business online. The creation of an up-to-date website or mobile app gives business credibility which increases consumer trust and ultimately increases sales. In 2021, it is almost a must for a business to have a solid online presence. Even if a business were to have a website, it must be mobile-friendly since we are living in a very smart-phone centric time now more than ever. It is more likely that one will look something up on their phone if they are on the go, rather than a laptop or tablet. In addition to having an up-to-date website and/or mobile app, including an effective ordering system will also boost your business’s credibility. 45% of consumers say that offering mobile ordering or loyalty programs would encourage them to use online ordering services more often, driving the customer to come back again and again.
Making Indoor Spaces Safer
While marketing business strategies to the digital world is important, it is also important to keep in mind how you will market your indoor dining or shopping plan if you choose to have one. During the summer, restaurants were able to serve customers outside on patios or rooftops. Now that it is winter, customers don’t even consider outdoor dining an option. However, some restaurants have had success with tents, heat lamps, and even igloos. These are all ideas to consider if effective COVID-19 safety protocols are met. When providing customers the option to dine or shop inside, it is important to display the COVID-19 safety protocols the business is mandating like requiring masks and temperature checks to ensure the safety of the employees and customers. These protocols are a direct reflection of your brand integrity. It is important to be professional, lead by example, and be socially responsible amidst the pandemic. How you treat your employees and safety concerns are a part of your brand moving forward. These actions dictate business opportunities, and it is important to recognize and take advantage of advantageous opportunities that boost business and increase sales.
Customer Safety in Mind
Operating a business during the pandemic calls for adaptation. We have a social responsibility to keep ourselves and others safe during this time. Having hand sanitizer handy in high traffic areas is essential. Some other tips we suggest are investing in air purifiers. The EPA states that when used properly, air purifiers can help reduce airborne contaminants including viruses in a confined space. In addition to that, investing money into new disinfectant technological advances or simply increasing your budget for disinfecting products and/or services. Consumers expect tables, counters, and highly touched surfaces to be disinfected regularly, so having these products on hand at all times is essential for safety. Lastly, let your customers know you care about not only their health and safety but the health and safety of others as well. This not only builds brand credibility but increases the trust between you and your customers.
Having a good customer retention rate is a very important factor that contributes to the success of a business. If you increase your digital presence, your business will build credibility and awareness. Whether a customer decides to buy online, stop in, dine-in, or carry out, ensuring the safety of oneself and others will not only increase trust but will be remembered and respected by the customer as well.