Covid-19: Serving customers during difficult times

In light of the current difficulties being faced by retailers across the UK and Europe, nursery expert Paul Sirett has written the following guide for independent retailers during the Covid-19 outbreak.

“As the restrictions on movement tightened this week, it was fantastic to see how quickly and creatively our independent retailers responded to the new reality.

The great advantage smaller businesses enjoy over their larger competitors is the ability to adapt quickly to opportunities and indeed threats. This week nursery independents have been a great example of this.

Five key services summarise the great ideas and can be used as a handy checklist for the coming months.

Get busy online now to really maximise use of social media and website homepage to advertise and emphasise all digital services. Stores will become quiet so there will be extra time to spend on this now. Leading retailers are posting messages, short videos and offers every day.

Advertise and emphasise phone number and email addresses and encourage phone and email consultations. Some teams may even be able to do these from home?

Of course, offer ‘Facetime/ Skype/ WhatsApp’ video consultations but also consider offering exclusive appointment slots, even into the evening. Offer opportunities for customers to walk around the store without coming into contact with anyone – exclusive use and minimal ‘social distanced’ staffing.

Advertise and emphasise that it is possible to store items until the customer wants to collect them or is ready for delivery.

Advertise and emphasise that deliveries will be made with sensitivity to contact and cleanliness regarding handling and cleaning of the boxes and containers.

Some, all, or none of the above may suit your business but it may stimulate you to think of other more appropriate ideas for your particular business.

This is all subject to ongoing Governmental advice of course. Talking of which, there are some interesting loan and grant facilities being made available as well as rate relief and other initiatives, so make take advantage of any that may apply.

Try to think differently. Ask your team for ideas. Get busy. Indpendents can adapt business practises more easily than larger competitors so ‘seize the day’, react quickly and work differently… this is an opportunity.”

Paul Sirett has over 20 years experience in the nursery industry and currently runs sales consultancy, Selling Solutions

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