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11 Ways Retailers Can Combat Coronavirus Fears

By Susan Guillory –

Rita Mitchell, Certified Counselor at the University of Southern Mississippi SBDC, compiled a great list of 11 ways retailers can combat coronavirus fears, the closures, and the financial decline those fears are causing.

Here are her suggestions.

1. Have VISIBLE and TOTAL hygiene discipline. Mitchell suggests placing anti-bacterial pumps throughout a store. Also, posting photos online and on your website of “deep cleaning” activities can show customers your commitment to keeping them healthy while shopping.

2. She also recommends posting a kind and intimate email, Facebook post, Instagram post, and in-store posted statement about your commitment to the care and services your business will provide during this emergency.

3. To drum up business from people who are staying away from shopping in stores, she recommends making an open offer to deliver or ship a client’s order, and then include a fun surprise. (P.S. Your client will want delivery and shipping to be at no charge.)

4. Offer NO penalty, no-hassle returns while shopping online or ordering by phone/email, and give immediate credit, however it was paid, to provide customers peace of mind. With trips, reservations, and flights offering only in-house credit, this is vital.

5. She recommends creating, scheduling and announcing more Facebook Live posts, animated posts, and enticing videos to show new stock, with a simple call to action and click-buttons to buy. Also, focus on “buy online, pick up in-store” options.

6. Another idea for clothing retailers is to create “Stitch Fix”- like personal stylist bundles for your regular clients, completely customized for their tastes. Deliver to them, or allow your client to pick up on approval. Offer to pick up what’s not kept from the box, and follow up with visual suggestions on how to wear their sassy new items.

7. Mitchell says this is a great time to leverage virtual couponing via mobile texts, in a personal email, or just a QR code. “Surprises like this are force multipliers,” she said.

8. She suggests highlighting products made in America in your store. One of her business consulting clients posted on social media that he is ordering his merchandise bags from the U.S. from now on, and had a hugely positive response.

9. Use your staff and the power of a GREAT visual story to create a connection with your brand. You could post an employee’s favorite new item on Instagram or show how to style an outfit.

10. She says your goal on social media shouldn’t just be clicks, but also engagement through things like flash contests, polling followers on their favorite products, or offering giveaways to the first responder of a post.

11. Mitchell says her favorite tip is to simply ask how your clients need you to help them now. One retailer reported that a client just wanted a bright new top to wear, and didn’t want to make a trip to the store. The store sent her options, she chose the one she liked, and both client and store are happy.

While we have no way of knowing how long retailers will be impacted by coronavirus, it’s what you do now that will help combat coronavirus fears and minimize the strain this situation causes.

Your Small Business Development Center (SBDC) can help. SBDCs provide free business consulting to small business owners around the country. SBDCs also offer disaster preparedness and resiliency assistance. There are 1,000 centers available to provide free business consulting and low-cost training to new and existing businesses. Find your SBDC here.


About the Author: Susan Guillory is a Senior Content Writer for Nav. She’s written books on business and travel, and blogs about small business on sites including Forbes and AllBusiness.

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