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8 Oct 2021

TheDepartment for Transport have asked the ACT to remind all businesses participating in the Fix Your Bike voucher scheme that all vouchers assigned to your business will expire on 31st...

7 Oct 2021

Independentretailers are urged to write to their MPs ahead of the Chancellor's Autumn Statement, which is expected to include a review of business rates.

6 Oct 2021

Come along to this practical online workshop and you'll take a fresh look at the resources flowing through your business and identify opportunities to increase your profits.

6 Oct 2021

The government will be introducing compulsory Making Tax Digital (MTD) for Income Tax Self-Assessment (ITSA) a year later than planned

30 Sep 2021

Members across the Independent Retailers Confederation (IRC) have reported an increase in scam emails and fraud attempts experienced by retailers.

29 Sep 2021

UK Finance have announced that the national roll-out of the new £100 spending limit for contactless card payments will begin from 15 October 2021.

27 Sep 2021

IRC member BIRA, together with Starling Bank are working on a news story to share the positive experiences independent retailers have encountered since lockdown ended.

27 Sep 2021

Northern Ireland's high street voucher scheme is now open to everyone aged 18 and over to apply online for a £100 "spend local" card to use inshops before the end of November.

27 Sep 2021

The government has announced plans to make the right to requesting flexible working a day-one right when starting a new job.

23 Sep 2021

HM Treasury has published a progress update on its Plan for Jobs as well as a record £650 billion infrastructure investment

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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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