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The Strength of Digital in a COVID-19 World

The brick-and-mortar storefront retail world has been challenged for years now by the digital commerce space. At first the Internet was used to spread information, advertising, specials, etc. and served a great purpose: driving more business into the storefronts. The electronic commerce (e-commerce) and online buying became all the rage. While storefront retailers may have cursed and complained about the sales competition from e-commerce in the past, contemporary circumstance demonstrates exactly why the cyber-world can’t be ignored. In fact, if you haven’t embraced it fully yet, now is exactly the time to do it.

Retailers around the world are feeling the pinch from COVID-19. With so many countries under travel restrictions and people being advised to stay home, storefront retail sales are way down (except, apparently, for cleaning supplies, paper towels and toilet paper). For those businesses that have previously leveraged e-commerce to increase their sales by combining the online outlet with their storefront, that pinch hasn’t been quite so bad. Online sales haven’t been seriously impacted as yet, and with delivery services still working – deemed essential – having your products delivered hasn’t proven a problem.

Then there are those retailers who have avoided or at least not leveraged the digital world. They haven’t embraced all that can be done via virtual means. There are so many tools that can be used in cyber-space and all of them serve the purpose of increasing your sales, your brand, your corporate image and more. What are some of those things?

Brand recognition: For big box stores, brand recognition is no big deal – but they still invest in it. They don’t want to lose any of the brand recognition that they have built. So they keep it in front of the public’s eyes. Smaller “mom and pop” stores may not need to have national brand recognition, but they should be pursuing it in their local area plus the surrounding spaces. Having your community know who you are is great for the “little local guy,” but that’s the business that’s hungriest for growth. To make that happen, you have to spread the word and grow your brand recognition beyond your local community. The digital world is worldwide and can be targeted. For a few dollars you can expand your voice beyond your local community to be heard in the neighboring areas. The good news is that one you have that brand recognition in the neighboring areas, they have become your local area… and then you grow beyond them. It’s a progression that happens incrementally but only if you start working on it.

Corporate image: Every store front can put a poster sized sign in their front window declaring their corporate ethos or outlook in a given situation. The challenge is that only the people walking past the sign see it and the message only gets conveyed to those who actually stop to read it. If you want to get your corporate image spread farther out, digital messaging is the way to go. By building a subscriber base to your corporate newsletter, you can share vital messages daily, weekly, monthly or on whatever schedule best suits your needs. By incorporating your brand logo, the same tool you use to share and express your corporate image also shares and builds your brand recognition. This serves a two-fold purpose within a single cost.

Promotional tools: that same subscriber base can be regularly emailed coupons, promotions, sales events and more. The person stuck at home who isn’t thinking about going to his local hardware store can be prompted to do so when he sees that mulch is on sale (as an example). Yes, there is currently a challenge on businesses being open – unless they are deemed essential and all hardware stores should be – but if you are open then you want people coming into your business to make purchases. Invite them in with a strategically timed sale or promotion.

E-Commerce: Finally, you can actually do sales online. Plenty of retailers do but if this is new to you it can be intimidating. It’s a new way of tracking inventory, adjusting costs to include shipping and more. That said, there are plenty of third-party software providers who can enable e-commerce on your website for a comparatively low investment. And it’s an investment that can begin paying off almost immediately. As soon as you can announce that you have the e-commerce capability available, you can begin driving customers to it. There are sales you most certainly losing due to current restrictions that you might be able to get back with an e-commerce capability.

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None of the above works without advertising. To drive your customers and potential customers to your site so that they can shop online, or even just learn of your specials and come in to buy, you need to advertise. You need to get YOUR brand and YOUR message in front of them via online advertising. This is especially important during the building process for any new-to-online-commerce retail business. And if your business is veteran in the online commerce space, you still need to drive people to your site. The more you get your message out, the more eyes you drive to your website. Those eyes are attached to people with dollars to spend on your products.

If you need assistance, please reach out to us and we’ll be glad to help you. Our experts in digital marketing and sales are available to help you.  Visit this page on our site to get easy contact information for assistance.

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