As states are slowly beginning to reopen, many businesses are preparing for what they hope will be a return to normalcy — namely, increased sales at brick-and-mortar locations or retailers.
You might be thinking, “I’ll just reopen and go about business as usual with a few more health precautions.”
But as you go about the process of adjusting to this new normal, you might be caught off guard at how much actually goes into reopening, especially regarding your digital strategy. Your business will experience unprecedented changes, just like it has been, and you need to be prepared to tackle them head-on—and communicate them clearly to your customers.
Your window to bounce back is shorter than ever, and you’ll likely only have a few days to enact your reopening plan, so it’s important to have it set in place beforehand.
Reopening Physical Stores
Product Packaging and Source
One of the major new issues businesses will face is adjusting their product packaging and sourcing to accommodate for new restrictions and precautions. Some businesses will have to design new packaging that minimizes contact and germ-sharing, while others might have to adjust where they source their products from.
Providing hand sanitizer near the entrance of your store, as well as by the checkout, will help slow the spread of germs getting in to and leaving your store. Be sure to have clear signage that indicates your new procedures, such as:
- Taking temperature before entering store
- Hand sanitizing upon entering and leaving
- Maintaining social distancing within store
- Wearing a mask at all times
- Store capacity limits
You also need to have a complete digital strategy set up to communicate your safety precautions—including social posts, new and prominent sections on your website, emails, and more. Properly educate your teams on how to answer questions surrounding this, especially on social media. Your social team or agency should be well-versed in how to respond to questions and concerns that might come up.
Some in-store novelties—like testers, free samples, and up-close consultations—will need to be revisited and revised under this new normal. How can you provide a similar experience those offerings give, while still abiding by safety and health regulations?
For example, if your brand relies heavily on brick-and-mortar sales and the testers that are present, you can shift your organic social strategy to focus more on what your product looks like, smells like, feels like, or tastes like. Solicit videos of influencers or customers trying your product and describing it in detail, and post texture shots and videos that really convey your product.
As you reopen, make sure you have enough inventory available to meet demand. As states begin to open up, people might be itching to return to their normal shopping habits, and the last problem you want to have is selling out of products!
Some questions to keep in mind: Was your supply chain affected by the pandemic? Or will it be in the coming months? Did you sell out of certain products due to an ecommerce sales boom, and need to restock?
Start getting answers to those questions well before you’re set to reopen so that you don’t have to scramble for stock at the last minute.
Digital Strategy for Relaunching
Everyone essentially has to do a soft launch for their business, so you need to have a digital strategy prepared for when you’re able to reopen.
Figure out now how you’ll want to communicate any updates, as well as any messaging you’ll want to use. Will you offer any promotions? Gifts with purchase? How will you essentially relaunch your brand? It’s important to get your ducks in a row now, so when your state inevitably opens back up you have a clear path forward.
It’s always better to communicate your expectations ahead of time, so we recommend sending an email blast to your subscriber list, posting on social media, and creating a banner on your website. All of these areas should have similar (if not identical) messaging to clearly communicate your new policies, precautions, and expectations.
What comes next for ecommerce?
Release delayed launches
If your brand delayed any product launches in the wake of COVID-19, you’re likely ready to release it. Make sure you have all your assets in place, and that they are still sensitive to the current situation (avoid copy that centers around traveling, going out, etc.).
Consider how you’ll time your launch with your store reopening—will you do both at once to encourage traffic in your store, or will you stagger your campaigns to space out what will hopefully be a spike in sales?
Focus on new customer acquisition
Some brands have been mostly unaffected by the pandemic—or have even thrived—which begs the question: How will you maintain long-term success in this “new normal”?
If you’re on pace to hit your revenue goals, now is the time to start prospecting for new customers by running awareness campaigns. Reallocate some of your ad budget to these campaigns. And while these campaigns typically don’t return as well as ads targeting your already-engaged audiences, it’s crucial to start expanding your pool of customers while you’re able to.
Keep in mind that the holiday season is coming up faster that we likely realize (we’re almost halfway through 2020!). Now is the time to start building engaged audiences who you can convert during November and December.
Prepare for the worst
We’re all about thinking positively, but it’s important to prepare for the worst so you can ride the wave.
You might experience a downturn in online sales when your physical store opens up. Will your brick-and-mortar or retail sales be enough to offset the dip in ecom sales? Should you run an online-only promo during that time, or would that only deter in-person sales?
Prepare to experience slower growth for your retail or owned-and-operated store than you might expect. While many brands might expect customers to flood to their store as soon as their state reopens, that might not be the case, as 1) many people are still maintaining social distancing as much as possible and 2) buying habits may have shifted, with customers used to solely buying online now.