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Finding New Customers During a Pandemic

by Debi Enders

Even as communities begin to re-open, a significant drop in brick-and-mortar shopping continues, furthering the decline that began even before the pandemic. Meanwhile, online retail sales have seen a 74% rise in recent months compared to a year ago, according to ACI Worldwide research.

Therefore, to expand your customer base, you may need to begin selling online. Here are three ways to get started.

1. Add services and sales channels – If you already have a distribution channel, consider “sharing” it with partnering businesses. For example, a milk-delivery business can grow by adding meats, juices and other fresh, local products to its online selection. Businesses that typically have sold to wholesale customers exclusively might seek such partnerships or create their own online direct-to-consumer channels. To encourage recurring sales, consider adding subscription-based services to your website. To further increase sales, add channels like Amazon, eBay or Etsy.

2. Adjust your messaging
— Consider a shift in your marketing to focus on the value you bring during uncertain times. For example, a fitness studio might host online workouts and offer discounted gift cards and other incentives to entice customers back when the time is right. To help spread your message, identify appropriate social media influencers – individuals who have access to large audiences and who can help to introduce your brand. Additionally, many traditional media outlets are offering advertising discounts through print and social-media channels.

3. Make after-sales contacts - Any sale that you make right now is valuable, and so are after-sales upsells. Online tools like Shopify and Up Sell & Cross Sell, which are available via the Clover payment system, can promote other products in your inventory directly on your order-confirmation page, helping to increase sales. Just remember to stay connected with your customers through follow-up emails and messages.

The bottom line: Attracting new customers requires finding opportunities in new places. Such opportunities abound for agile small businesses.

Debi Enders (debi.enders@commercebank.com) is vice president, small business banking at Commerce Bank.
Submitted 315 days ago
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