The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way customers shop for the last few months. Early on, many people only brought items into their homes that were absolutely necessary. Now, in many parts of the country, governments and individuals are easing up restrictions. People are starting to go to restaurants to enjoy outdoor dining, meeting up for socially distance playdates, and shopping in-person again. For those who are still trying to restrict their contact with other people, contactless shopping methods such as eCommerce, appointment setting, and in-store self-services are great. Retailers should inform themselves of the advantages of these strategies and beef up procedures. But which contactless shopping strategy would be best to meet your business’ needs?
eCommerce Enablement for Contactless Shopping
Buying items from the safety of one’s couch is always a safe choice, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Plenty of retailers are relying on targeted ads on social media, abandoned cart marketing, email newsletters, and other eCommerce strategies to entice customers to order items online. Retailers now have a captive audience that’s often bored and looking for ways to spice up their lives. Well-executed marketing will inspire potential customers to purchase your products, positively impacting your bottom line. Plus what could be easier or more convenient than purchasing items in one’s pajamas? Enhancing your business’ eCommerce marketing by hiring an SEO specialist, social media expert, or other marketing professional is a worthwhile investment.
Ecommerce enablement benefits
When we say eCommerce enablement, many retailers here “ecommerce first”. That’s one of the biggest misconceptions about enabling ecommerce for your brick and mortar website. There are many components of your brick and mortar store that will be enhanced due to ecommerce enablement. A sustainable contactless shopping strategy doesn’t always revolve around the presence of a pandemic. But if you want to future proof your retail store, you need to start the journey to ecommerce enablement.
Identify the 20% of your products that produce 80% of the revenue in your store. Then develop an ecommerce strategy to sell those products through your website. You can scale up to other collections, brands, and product types as you see success in your early pilots of ecommerce enablement.
BOPIS and Contactless Shopping
But the whole shopping experience for a contactless shopping strategy doesn’t require the website. In fact, the concept of BOPIS (buy online pick up in store) has transformed during the pandemic. It is one aspect of eCommerce that’s been especially beneficial during COVID-19. When customers can buy online, pick up curbside or in the showroom at a safe and sanitized place you open the possibilities of selling online. It also increases the type of customer you can have to shop in your store. BOPIS and its social distancing variants is very convenient for parents with young children. It’s a helpful contactless shopping strategy you should employ for your store.
Customers also like it because they don’t have to pay shipping charges. Companies like it as well, since so many shipping companies are overloaded and backlogged. Products can be bought and delivered much more seamlessly when they’re simply picked up curbside. Many stores will ask customers to drive up, indicate what kind of car they have, and pop the trunk. Store employees can simply place the customers’ purchases in the trunk and away they go. This is a superb option for a truly contactless shopping experience.
Ecommerce Enabled Furniture Vendors
Dropshipping is another part of eCommerce that has been crucial to many business’ success during this pandemic. When retailers can’t find brands with inventory, they are able to transfer customer orders directly to another retailer or the manufacturer. Customers are satisfied and businesses are able to avoid delays while maintaining customer satisfaction, thanks to dropshipping. This contactless shopping tool has made it so customers can receive their purchases faster and more reliably. Dropshipping may entice customers to purchase from the vendor again and again.
Is Appointment Setting a Contactless Shopping Strategy?
While many people are happy shopping from their homes, there are times when it can be much better to shop in-person. For instance, buying a new mattress, couch, artwork, or redesigning the kitchen are often best tackled in-person. Plus it can simply be fun to get out of the house and get a change of scenery. With the appointment setting, businesses can offer clients appointments to ensure limited contact between people. They can easily follow social distancing measures. When customers come in by-appointment-only, employees can disinfect thoroughly in-between sessions. A good way to market appointment availability is on the homepage of your website. Posts on your company’s social media pages can also be effective promotional methods. Make sure you put announcements in your company email newsletter, too.
Appointments enable stores to have fewer employees present to assist customers – usually just one or two, maximum. So owners and managers can reduce the number of staff they have working. Maybe they’ll lay off or furlough some employees. This allows companies to save on their bottom line. Stores can also reduce the number of hours they are open for business. This limits potential virus exposure and helps owners and managers save considerably on overhead costs.
Safe Store Experience
Promoting an appointment setting is vital to ensure potential customers flow through your store daily. Make sure you include a detailed list of cleaning methods that are being used. This will help wary customers know that they will be safe visiting your business for an appointment. Generate more customer foot traffic and resulting sales while maintaining safety procedures with this contactless shopping strategy. There is a wide range of customers, many of whom prefer an in-person shopping experience, and making appointments with them is a great way to ensure sales keep rolling in. Pandemic or not, when customers make appointments, your business will likely prosper.
Customers who take the time to set up an appointment at your business are likely serious about making purchases. Meeting with individual customers in-person allows for savvy salespeople to clinch the sale and perhaps even convince them to purchase more. Meeting your customers’ needs and wants ensures that your business will remain solvent and perhaps profits will even increase. Inviting customers to make appointments ensures that your employees and customers remain safe from the virus while maintaining profitability. Sounds like a win-win!
Self-Service Showroom Strategy
Utilizing the power of tablet or kiosk technology is another way to offer customers contactless shopping experience. Now that tablets and kiosks are relatively affordable, investing them is a fantastic way to give your business a boost. They are safe and user-friendly. Tablets and kiosks ensure your company is able to survive and likely, prosper during this pandemic. When your store is equipped with tablets or kiosks, you will be implementing a great contactless shopping strategy. It will help people feel safe while enjoying plenty of time to browse and select items to purchase. Customers can go to various areas of your store and see some of the options available for purchase. People can also use a tablet or kiosk to view your business’ entire inventory online.
The only way to make sure this is safe for everyone is to make sure the equipment is thoroughly cleaned, in-between customers. Not only should they be cleaned, disinfecting is key during this pandemic. Many retail stores set up hourly cleaning schedules and have sanitizing wipes next to the kiosks or tablets. Wipes give customers peace of mind that they will be safe when browsing your selection of items for sale. Your website should definitely have all of the items, with their corresponding SKUs, listed so that customers can order them seamlessly. If a customer has to go searching around for what they’re looking for, they may get distracted or frustrated, and not buy anything. This is, of course, to be avoided. Make sure your website is up-to-date!
Endless Aisle in the Store
Naturally, your brick-and-mortar store will have a limited selection of items in stock. Making sure customers can explore your entire catalog of items through your website is the ideal way to make sure your customers know all their options. Plus likelihood of them making purchases will be increased. Many customers appreciate having an in-store experience, but naturally, want to take precautions. Viewing items in-person and browsing through your business’ entire catalog offers the best of both worlds. It’s an almost contactless shopping strategy that’s great for these pandemic times.
Future Proof Your Retail Store
Pick one contactless shopping strategy to implement in your business. It’s a perfect way to ensure your business continues to thrive during this pandemic and beyond. No one knows how long this pandemic will last. Will be a second wave or not? How long it will take to get a reliable vaccine? Wearing masks, social distancing, using hand sanitizer, and employing contactless shopping strategies are here to stay. These practices are beginning to feel like the “new normal.”
Modern businesses must stay current to ensure customers feel safe patronizing their establishments. Contactless shopping strategies will help your store thrive and increase profits no matter what. The pandemic and resulting recession have lead to so many business closures, but your company doesn’t have to be one of them. Proactively implement contactless shopping strategies so people will feel you are prioritizing health and safety over profits, and you’ll be okay. When customers know that you care more about preventing the spread of the coronavirus than lining your pockets, they will feel great about supporting your business.