With pandemic updates still taking up quite a bit of the news machine’s time, sometimes it’s still hard to even imagine a world that’s different from the one COVID-19 has created today. But businesses and retailers will one day be moving to a new normal that is similar to that old normal we all crave. People will be less home-bound and more social. Virtual learning will be an option, not a necessity, and gatherings will be encouraged and appreciated, not feared.
Is your retail business marketing plan ready for the post-pandemic world? Vaccines are proving effective, and treatments are better, so this shift could happen sooner than expected, making it a good time to think about a post-pandemic plan.
Here are five marketing strategies for your retail business after the pandemic.
1. Start with your website
Almost every industry experienced a shift from in-store to online sales. In the first half of 2020 alone, U.S. online sales climbed 30.1% compared to the same period in 2019, and in the third quarter climbed to 36.7%, compared to Q3 of 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s not a bad thing. Rising online sales is the reason that many retail businesses survived.
Online marketing and positive online shopping experiences aren’t going away anytime soon. But as your customers stay engaged with your brand on your website, don’t pass up opportunities to incentivize them to come into your store with specials or promotions. Be patient, too. If a promotion is sluggish at first, consider extending the timeline or kick it down the road and try it again when you know restrictions are easing. And, of course, you always want to A/B test and tinker with different approaches or special offers as well.
2. Use data to target markets
Along with the boost in online sales, many companies have collected a tremendous amount of data about their customers’ online preferences. If you’ve done it right, your email and other contact information lists should have grown over the past year. This data can inform a variety of marketing tactics that can get people in the door.
Use shopper history for a targeted email offer involving an in-store incentive. Cast the net a little wider with a social media campaign for the same offer, and your targeted Google ad information should be better than ever after a year of online data gathering. And if your retail store still finds mailers to be effective, you can ramp those efforts up, too.
3. Get out there and be a part of the community
It has been widely reported how the pandemic has made many of us miss basic human interaction. When pandemic constraints ease and people are out and about more, it’s a great time to take your brand to the street.
You can participate in outdoor events, markets, sidewalk sales and have booths at trade shows and festivals. Also, don’t underestimate the power of aligning with nonprofits having deep roots in your community, too. Host a volunteer day for your team members and publish photos and videos of the experience on social media. This work is important for nurturing brand trust, and it complements any direct marketing tactics for getting people in the door.
4. Make your storefront inviting
As foot traffic ramps up near your storefront, you don’t want your brand to be overlooked. Impressive window displays can capture attention, invite people in and get them browsing.
Try large, bold messaging, or get products into the action and set them at different elevations. Experiment with a unique theme, a seasonal background, or take advantage of holiday colors or scenes to make your brand stand out.
Simple touches help as well. Prop doors open, add a pedestal sign with an offer or message that invites people in who are walking by. If your store is set back farther from the street, try new signage to let people know you’re open, and above all, make sure the space in front of your store is clean and inviting.
5. Continue omnichannel approaches
Regardless of how quickly your in-store foot traffic increases, your marketing will still involve some trial and error. As you gather results from online and other promotions, you can narrow down your plan to focus on the channels that are truly working.
Also, as more customers come into the store, you’ll have more data to compare their online and in-store habits. We all know that in-store experiences increase the likelihood of add-on sales, but in-store purchases can also reveal shifts in product preferences, volume, and frequency of purchases. Link that up with what you already know about your customers, and you’ll increase the chances of effectively targeting them on the channel they prefer, at the time they want to hear from you.
The pandemic may have snuck up on your retail business, but better times can sneak up on you as well. While the pandemic still plays out, it’s important to leverage lessons learned from the past year for a better, more prosperous tomorrow.
About the Author: Ray Ko is the Senior Ecommerce Manager at ShopPOPDisplays. With years of experience in the retail space, Ray is an expert in formulating and implementing e-commerce strategies to increase revenue.
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