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17 Sep 2021

All ACT members are invited to join in on the APPGCW inquiry report launch. Please contact the ACT if you would like to join in and...

16 Sep 2021

There's so much to be learned from the success (or lessons) of others, particularly when it come to the ever-moving landscape of social media. So, every week Maybe* dig through all the data...

15 Sep 2021

Read which lucky bike shops and customers were chosen to receive Local Bike Shop Day prizes

14 Sep 2021

Green Streetis a guide to helping smaller retailers & hospitality businesses work together to slash their carbon footprint and become more sustainable as quickly as possible.

14 Sep 2021

From 1st April 2022, employer NICs will increase by 1.25 percentage points. Employee NICs will also increase by 1.25 percentage points, including for workers above state pension age

13 Sep 2021

Local Bike Shop Day 2021, administered by the Association of Cycle Traders (ACT), was supported by a record number of cycling organisations and bike shops

9 Sep 2021

Join tax compliance company Avalara for a webinar as they cover IOSS & selling into the EU, on Thursday 30th September at 11am.

8 Sep 2021

The Scottish Government has published its shared policy programme following the announcement of the Scottish National Party's power sharing partnership with the Scottish Green Party.

6 Sep 2021

Gary Spengler, the previous owner of Butterworth Spengler, will be riding between 4th to 12th September to complete over 970 miles for a worthy cause

6 Sep 2021

The Wellbeing Guide provides retailers with practical advice on how to support wellbeing for themselves and their colleagues.

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How to keep your business running in tougher restrictions

Posted on in Business News , Cycles News , Creative News


As milStay Homelions of people have been placed in lockdown, many retailers are now unable to open their doors for an unknown period of time.

For retailers to adapt during these strange times, many will have to acknowledge the significant shift towards online shopping during the lockdown. Now is the time to build further upon your online marketing efforts. Respecting public safety means adjusting your business to become as accessible as possible for people that are unable to leave their homes.

 

Build your online brand

Take this opportunity to tailor your business to the millions of customers that are already shopping online, and the millions more that will be joining them during this isolation period. Appeal to this audience by building a robust online brand using social media platforms and your own website.

Evaluate your website and ensure it's all up to date. There is a plethora of resources available online to aid you in refreshing your website design and ensuring that it is fully optimised for search engines. The Google webmaster courses are designed to aid you in building a high-quality website and improve your site's content and user experience.

In addition to refreshing your website, take this time to access all of the social media platforms that can be used as assets to reflect your brand. If you haven't already created profiles, now is the time to build an online presence.

Since the start of the pandemic, social media activity has increased by 61% worldwide, and there is a 70% increase in web browsing. This means it is only natural that businesses also move to an online forum. 87% of customers now begin their product search online.

The statistics suggest that moving to an online platform would hugely increase sales. 35% of small personal businesses have moved to an online store, and many will remain this way, even after the pandemic. Moving online has many benefits during lockdown.

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram allow you to connect with current and potential customers. These platforms also create a way for you to keep your stakeholders up-do-date with your business- such as what products and services you are offering and how you are catering to customers throughout the current uncertainties.

Investing time in building your online presence will help to future-proof your business and help it to flourish without the existence of a physical store.

 

Adapting your services

Whether your shop is able to remain open or you've had to shut up shop, online retail remains a viable and encouraged option. Postal and delivery services are currently still running as normal, which may be an option for sending stock to further away locations. 

In lockdown, click & collect and take out services are still able to function. Therefore, many businesses are moving towards this to prevent them from closing altogether. Click & collect has been a popular response to the pandemic, and some stores record click & collect volumes up by more than 200%. 

In addition to using delivery services, you may consider providing your own delivery option. If you have a vehicle that fits stock in it then this could be a great help for any customers that are self-isolating. However, please ensure that you check your vehicle insurance before committing to this option as standard car insurance policies may not cover the use of vehicle for business purposes. Contact your insurance provider/broker to check if they can extend your business and vehicle insurance to cover home delivery.

Customers can place orders on the phone, through your own website, or another online platform such as WhatsApp, email, text, a Twitter direct message or a Facebook message. Indie Retail (a website promoting independent retail run by the Independent Retailers Confederation (IRC)) has partnered with NearSt, who have recently introduced the option to add WhatsApp chat functionality on your NearSt shop page, which is another useful way of keeping in touch with your customers and taking orders. Read more about this here.

When carrying out collections and deliveries, ensure you adopt a contactless model by eradicating all forms of contact between yourself and the customer and maintaining a two metre distance at all times.

Payment for services or products can be taken online or over the phone. The most common option is a card-not-present card transaction, whereby the customer's long card number and security code are manually entered on your terminal. Ensure you read IRC member, the ACT's advice on how to avoid card-not-present fraud before taking any payments. Other payment options include using a virtual terminal provider such as PayPal or Worldpay or exchanging cash in a hygienic manner.

 

Big Data

Data is essential in progressing and utilising your business. Companies can process their data to notice trends in product sales and what customers want. Many businesses are struggling during the pandemic, so they need to know what is or isn't selling. This will save the company money since the data will allow businesses to identify and reduce unwanted and unpopular stock.

In the long term, this will increase sales as companies will be able to optimise their stock based on predictions from data collected. By using data insights, businesses can quickly identify what the customer wants, meaning there is less risk involved.

 

Optimistic as well as opportunistic

Weathering the coronavirus crisis as an independent retailer can seem daunting, however, it is important to identify ways in which you can reach and engage with customers throughout this time, rather than waiting for customers to come to you.

Take a step back from the chaos and evaluate all business assets - including your website, social media channels, stock, premises, team and area of expertise. Consider how you can address the current wants and needs of your customers and the general public. You can find opportunities for innovation everywhere that will help your shop to survive, adapt and grow throughout these hard times. Strengthening these assets now will help towards long-term future proofing your business as we draw closer to the light at the end of the tunnel.


Let customers know you are still trading

Indie Retail have created the 'We Are Open' directory that lists UK shops and small businesses that are still open in some way to the public and operating responsibly during COVID-19.

The map enables customers to search by location, brand or sector and enjoy shopping with the UK's independent retailers. Add your shop to the directory and let customers know the extent to which your shop is still open.

For bicycle shops, The Bicycle Association and Association of Cycle Traders have worked together to make a tool where key workers and others can quickly find open bike shops. Open bike shops are encouraged to add their details to: openbikeshops.uk/trade. Your opening information will then be available nationally via openbikeshops.uk so that customers can direct any enquiries straight to you.

 

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