With all of the challenges hobby retailers are facing right now, we wanted to take a moment to discuss some suggestions that might help you to keep in contact with the customers in your community. The hope is that by offering them alternative options during this period, you will convey your consideration for your customer’s well-being as well as establishing a connection through this difficult time and beyond.
Option 1: Curbside Pickup
Assuming that you can make it to the parking lot of your establishment, this is a great way to help customers. Transactions can be processed through an online payment system, or by accepting credit cards over the phone…essentially, whatever you and your customers feel comfortable with. Then, process the transaction and meet them at the curb or storefront where you quickly hand them their purchase.
Option 2: Local Delivery
This option is practical within a ten-mile radius of your business; beyond that, the travel time and expenses associated with it can become costly. But during this time of social distancing, having a customer pay online, or over the phone, and confirming door-front delivery with a photograph could be just what your customers need to stay in contact and stay busy.
Option 3: Lay Away
If delivery and curbside service are challenging options for your store, this could be a great way to guarantee sales and reconcile customer pre-orders. Unlike “layaway,” the term “lay away” means to set something aside for a later time. If your customers are willing, and you have the necessary space, this could be a convenient option for your business. As before, simply take payment online or over the phone, then place the customers purchases in a bag or box. Seal it and label it with the customer’s name and a copy of the receipt. When customers are able to return to your store, offer to confirm their purchase with them before they leave.
Option 4: Appointments
A Newsarama article addressed this very subject and it seems like a solid alternative to shuttering your business during this crisis. One of the comic shops featured has locked their doors, but has set up pick-up times for their customers. Now, you can do this the old-fashioned way, but Facebook offers a great option for making appointments with your customers. This free tool seems like a safer way to have your customers shop your store and feel comfortable doing so. Or if you prefer, you can arrange for customers to reach out to you via Facetime, Skype, or other visual messaging service for that personal one-on-one interaction.
Option 5: Gift Cards
This typical holiday option could be a great way to capture sales while folks are shut in. If you do not currently have this sales opportunity available, companies like Square offer both physical gift cards and electronic gift cards as well, to help you more aggressively regain sales after the threat has passed.
Option 6: Shipping
If your store is in a more remote area, consider shipping merchandise to your customers’ home. This may be a service that you already offer, but now it may be a literal lifeline to your community. As long as shipping services are available, FedEx, UPS, USPS, and others may be an excellent option for your customers.
If your customers are unaware that these service are available, no one will take advantage of them. Social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, are your best opportunity to reach them. During a crisis, more folks are scrolling through their phones to stay busy and stay informed. Using these outlets to offer them options makes the most sense. However, utilizing your email lists is also a solid choice, as your more active customers may have notifications set up to keep them in the loop when something comes through from you. Even something as simple as putting a sign in your window, for those individuals that stop by on a run to the grocery store, is a great way to reach out to your customers.
In the end, offering these options informs your community that their health and safety are your priority. To help you, we have created digital assets in color and black and white in the event that you need a quick graphic to promote these options. Stay safe and best of luck.