We’re in the homestretch of the holiday shopping season, and 2020 as a whole. While this year has been exceptionally challenging for retailers, it has also been filled with opportunity. More customers than ever WANT to shop local and support the businesses in their community – the problem is they are easily thwarted by roadblocks which is why it’s more important than ever to meet customers where they are, and to over-communicate with them.

Customers want to know what you’re selling, how you’re selling, and when you’re selling. In today’s pandemic world, these answers aren’t always readily available and if consumers can’t find them easily, they’ll move on. But there are little things, relatively easy things, that businesses can do to remove obstacles and make that path to purchasing a little bit easier to navigate for consumers.

Are you open?

While it may be crystal clear to you that your business is still open, customers might not be so sure. Different types of shoppers and generations rely on different platforms to get their information so it’s important to regularly make sure that your hours are accurate and consistent across the board including:

  • Google
  • Your Website
  • All Social Media Platforms (different demographics use different platforms so make sure that they all convey the same information)
  • Yelp
  • Voicemail
  • Food Delivery Services

How are you selling?

Perhaps just as important as when you’re open, is how you’re open.

  • Are you open to the general public during set hours or are you by appointment only?
  • Are you open for FaceTime shopping or are you doing Facebook live shopping events?
  • Is your restaurant only accepting orders online or can people walk-up and order?
  • Do you offer curbside pickup, local delivery, or shipping?

Make sure that you convey the different options to your customers with regular updates through social media, emails, and website updates. Someone may not have needed you two weeks ago but be searching for a way to buy a birthday present this week. Because things are changing so quickly these days, customers may be unsure if you’re still offering the same shopping options as you were two weeks ago.

What are you selling?

While it’s important to note, especially for restaurants, if you are currently offering your full product line on your website and social media, or if you have a limited menu. If you’re running a limited menu, it might be worth hiding the full menu temporarily so as not to confuse customers. Are you offering gift bundles or packages with multiple products and do you have examples that you can share?

Who can you sell with?

Consumers are looking to knock gifts off of their list quickly and efficiently so if they can kill multiple birds with one stone, that’s win-win for everyone. By collaborating with other businesses, you can reach new customers and increase the value for your existing customers.  A few ideas to consider:

  • Collaborate with your neighbors for live events.
  • Cross promote with other small businesses by sharing products that easily tie in with your own and they can return the favor.
  • Partner with similar businesses and combine your resources to create deliverable or shippable care packages of products.

Tell Everyone!

As previously mentioned, it’s important to tell customers and perspective customers what you’re doing frequently and across all platforms. For example, Millennials (who are now in their 30s and often have children) tend to be more likely to check an Instagram page first whereas their parents may call the store directly or check their website. But to take it a step further, it can also be meaningful to reach out to specific customers directly through a phone call or a handwritten note.

While you’re at it, friendly reminders about the steps that your business is taking to keep customers and staff safe can also go a long way in building consumer confidence.

If you need help creating social media graphics, check out Canva for free customizable templates in all shapes and sizes. If you don’t have an existing email program built into your POS, MailChimp offers a variety of economical (and free) plans with plug and play templates.