In the previous chapter, we looked at some of the ways to navigate economic difficulties as a retail business. Every retail business has high hopes to have a successful business that is able to have an impact in their community and their families as well.
The life of a retail business is a very critical one because imagine walking around your neighborhood, in desperate need of a product, and your favorite store doesn’t operate anymore, or has even closed for the day, or on a break. A lot of people can relate to the frustration that it brings. Imagine living in a community with no mum and pop store, or supermarket, or an inefficient delivery system. The impact of your shop in that community and the services you render are really critical and immense and so in this sequel, we will continue to shed light on how to navigate economic difficulties as a retail business, so you can continue to be relevant and have an impact in your community.
Let’s get to it.
#1 Invest in customer relations
If there has never been a time where you paid attention to investing in customer relations, this is the time. A lot of retailers, especially supermarkets have absolutely no mechanisms to keep records of their customers and so they have absolutely no form of relations with their customers.
As a retailer you have to have mechanisms that allow you to keep in touch with your customers. Even if you are a supermarket that has constant traffic at your shop, you will want to come up with innovative ways to prospect your customers and store their details. So during economic hardships, you keep in touch with existing clients, and then you reach out to lost clients as well, and then also prospect and rake in new customers.
You put in systems that always update you on the status of your customers and constantly and consistently you invest in building a relationship with your customers. Your customers will always have you in mind and keep coming back to your shop. This will ensure you gain long-term success with your customers.
There should be a way where you are constantly interacting with your customers. In developed countries they adopt the strategy of calls and emails. In our part of the world, the call and email strategy are not the most effective. Emails for instance are very less effective because a portion of the ghanaian population either do not have emails or they do not even bother to check them. Fortunately, a lot of businesses are taking advantage of social media to foster customer interactions. You can keep a database of your customer information, create social media groups with your customers in them, and use that as the channel to constantly inform and update them on your products and services. You can also use bulk sms features as well to keep interacting with your customers. The email option is still available to you since a portion of your customers may be regular email users. That platform should be where customers can also express their opinions and reach back to you.
#2 Build Customer Trust
In Ghana, a lot of emphasis isn’t placed on building customer trust. A lot of buyers do not trust the products they buy from a lot of retailers. You may end up buying substandard goods from your retailer, and there is usually nobody to complain to, or even if you did, you will be outright rebuffed.
It is very important that if you are going to survive this economic downturn, you want to maintain integrity with your customers. Your customers should be able to trust you irrespective. A lot of retailers cut corners in order to stay afloat during the economic crisis. They sell inferior goods with abnormal margins.
You can be diligent and be able to gain the loyalty of your customers. Loyalty may not be quantifiable or liquid, but it sure keeps the shopping doors opened. You will be trusted by your customers as the premium shop to buy quality items. Make it easy for your customers to reach out to you on issues they may have, and you have to master emotional intelligence to be able to handle your customers. Still offer great services to your customers.
Rigorously inspecting all your inventory to make sure there are no defects. Always research more deeply into the materials used for the products. You can offer some gentle return policies to provide a gateway for customers to return damaged items.
#3 Draw up a value proposition that reflect current realities
Value proposition according to google is an innovation, service, or feature intended to make a company or product attractive to customers. You need to re-evaluate your unique selling proposition that sets you apart. In economic downturns, customers who are also affected are usually looking out for products or services from retailers that they are interested in and can afford. As a retailer, you need to offer services, products or solutions that can help your customers navigate the poor economic weather conditions. Your goal or mission statement has to reflect the seasons as well. So that you are able to deliver on being able to meet your customers at their point of need even though things may be hard. Some of the value you can offer are discounts, improved services at affordable prices, promos and giveaways, if you are a restaurant, you want to find innovative ways to offer your food services at affordable prices, and so may require you getting affordable raw materials or updating your recipe to offer customers many affordable choices. As a retailer, you have to rethink strategies that would still enable you to meet your customers’ needs in difficult times. Without that, customers will not be able to buy from you, and you will definitely go down.
#4 Increase the prices of your goods and services, but reduce their prices
The topic here might sound contradictory. At one point, we are stating that you should increase the prices of your goods and we are also saying you should reduce the prices. How does increasing the prices help you win customers who may also be suffering the same economic challenges like you are. So the concept is for you to anticipate inflation. As a business, you need to survive. The cost of the products you will be procuring may go up because of supply and demand during economic hardships. One of the symptoms of an economic downturn is inflation. You will run at a loss if you do not adjust your prices to accommodate the rise in prices. Irrespective, you also want to be careful how you approach prices because customers may not be empathetic with the fact that you are also increasing prices to save your shop. The solution is to still increase your prices, and run a promo. You hit two birds with one stone. By increasing the prices, your customers are made aware and prepared to anticipate the price increases, which may be happening on a general level. And by running a promo, you send out a message to your customers that they can still buy from you at these low promo prices. It becomes easy for your customers to readjust to your increased prices once the promo is over.
#5 Maintain a positive and a winning attitude and share it with your team
Times can get tough. As a retailer, you need to be able to focus on the bright side and inspire yourself to think positive and face the challenges with a winning attitude. It also involves carrying your staff along as well. Have frequent meetings with yourselves to encourage yourselves. Keep sharing the goals and aspirations of the business with your team and as a retailer. This activity helps remind you to keep up the good fight. This point is an abstract concept which isn’t liquid, but it goes a long way to affect your company’s attitude and productivity. Eventually, the positivity will begin to pay off.
These are the points to note in trying to navigate economic difficulties. Note that a lot of lives are dependent on you being able to stay afloat and survive in order to thrive when situations change.
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