by Debi Enders
When the coronavirus slowed down much of the US economy earlier this year, many small business owners found clever ways to adapt their business models and maintain sales. As your business gears up for the holidays, some of these pandemic-friendly approaches may work for you, too.
Turn your product into an experience – Rather than just selling a product, look for ways to create an experience around it. A wine or food store, for example, might assemble gift packages or ready-to-prepare meals using their products and then conduct a tasting party or cooking lesson through an online platform like Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Similar kits and experiences could be developed for everything from holiday decorating projects to lawn and garden care.
Livestream sales – If your customers are reluctant to visit your retail location, bring your store to them. YouTube, Facebook and Instagram are three platforms that offer free live-streaming services. By hosting a live product demo or inviting experts to explain the unique value of your product, you can generate sales while also reaching potential new customers.
Make your website more user-friendly – With more customers shopping online, now is the time to upgrade your website with features that encourage them to stick around and make purchases. A live chat feature, for example, makes it easier for staff to interact with customers and answer their questions in real-time. Step-by-step tutorials and troubleshooting videos can be uploaded for extra convenience and customer support.
Shop by appointment – To limit COVID exposure, offer shopping appointments – either during regular business hours or “after hours” as exclusives for your best customers. Use a regular communication cadence to educate shoppers on the best and safest times to shop.
The important thing this holiday season is to keep your staff and customers healthy, happy and coming back for more, long after the pandemic is over.
Debi Enders (firstname.lastname@example.org) is vice president, small business banking at Commerce Bank.