This month marks 2 years since the first shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the past 24 months, business owners have faced everchanging mandates and restrictions, hiring struggles due to the Great Resignation, supply chain disruptions, inflation, and soaring gas prices.
As time has gone on, and the pandemic has evolved, businesses have also had to evolve in order to better serve the changing needs of their customers. As we begin to take steps towards a new normalcy, local businesses must consider how to best accommodate shoppers.
Here are several ways local businesses can better serve the post-COVID consumer:
Find Ways to Engage with the Local Community
The pandemic and other recent events have given people a different perspective on what they value. Today’s customers prefer to support socially responsible small businesses. As a local business, getting involved in the community helps spread the word about your company. Consider joining your local Chamber of Commerce, participating in street fairs or festivals, sponsoring a youth sports team, donating a gift card for your products or services to a local charity, or volunteering at a neighborhood soup kitchen or food pantry. Not only is donating your time or services a great thing to do, but these events can help you meet potential clients and spread the word about your business.
Adopt the Technology to Give Customers the Experience They Want
A recent survey by GoDaddy revealed that what consumers appreciated most about small, local shops was how they innovated with curbside pickup options (41%), contactless payment options (41%) and having an online store (36%). The survey uncovered a growing preference among customers toward smarter technology adoption. If your small business doesn’t have an online store and doesn’t offer options like contactless payments or BOPIS (buy online pick up in store), you’re missing out on a large share of the market. Still not convinced? The same survey revealed that 68% of consumers would shop small businesses more often if they had the option to purchase items online.
Keep People Informed
There’s nothing worse than going into a favorite store or restaurant to purchase something, only to find out that the price has increased, the establishment has changed its hours, or that the store doesn’t carry it anymore. If you plan on making a change, communicate it clearly to your customers via social media, email, and signage.
Let Them Get to Know You
Don’t be afraid to show who your company is. Now more than ever, people want to support companies who they trust and who show the human size of their business. Give them a behind the scenes look at your business by sharing employee spotlights or doing Q&As with staff members so your customers can see the faces behind the brand they love. You could also consider creating a video or an email from you directly where you discuss company news or address current issues that your patrons may be facing (such as inflation). You could offer special promotions, advice, or simply acknowledge the issue with understanding and support. Remember to always express yourself empathetically to help build trust and show sincerity.
As we move into year three of the pandemic, businesses should reevaluate their customers’ behavior and expectations in order to be sure they are delivering the best possible experience.
Need funding to help you prepare your business for what’s next? We can help! Call us at 844-466-6394 or apply today.