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Part two: Making change happen

If you’re looking for a digital solution to Covid-19 problems, Katie Te Nahu Owen, co-founder of Transformative, has answers for you. In part two of this two-part series, she shares tips on enacting the changes you identified in part one.

Be collaborative

Retail, like all businesses, is a people business.  Collaboration is key to success.  If you’re looking to collaborate with your team while working through the process of planning for the future, I recommend Slack for text based communications, Miro for online whiteboard sessions, and Zoom or Google Meet for instant video chats.

Test and trial

Flexibility is also critical to agility and your ability to succeed.  If you’re primarily running older, on-premise solutions, you’re probably now wishing you had prioritised migrating to cloud based, subscription-style alternatives. Now is a great time to research and trial some of these in order to evaluate whether they’ll meet your needs. There are plenty of options out there and you may have niche requirements which require some research.  For many, I recommend starting with comprehensive, platform-centric solutions such as popular Vend and Xero before considering niche components that are necessary for customised solutions. Keep in mind how any add-ons might integrate with base platforms.

Consider content

Are your current website and social media platforms working well for you?  Have you developed your content strategy to support your sales and marketing teams? How often, if at all, are you sending an eDM? Whether you’re using a fully integrated and automated marketing/sales system such as HubSpot or email marketing with  MailChimp or Campaign Monitor, an e-newsletter  is an easy way to help you keep your customer base engaged with (and excited about) your thinking as well as launches and promotions.  With a review of your content and social media strategies, consider your social channels. Now could be the time to extend your reach through Pinterest, or alternatively pull back and refine your channels to those most relevant to your customer base.  If you don’t have a content calendar, start building one. Write content that’s ready to roll out immediately, as well as that which needs to wait till we emerge from the Level 4 restrictions.

Diversify distribution

If you’re a bricks-and-mortar retailer and not already selling online, you may want to consider implementing some form of eCommerce. Depending on your business needs, many eCommerce solutions can integrate with existing Point of Sale and inventory management systems which will help avoid inventory availability issues, as well as issues with cross-channel purchases and returns. When researching and planning an eCommerce solution, it’s important to consider every choice from the perspective of the customer.  It’s sometimes difficult for founders, owners, and retail leaders to take the outside-in view of your business.  Recruit friends and family if you find it difficult to muster the objective clarity –  and keep that view in mind as you consider the following:

  • Who will you be selling to, and what are their needs?
  • From where will your customers be shopping, and to where might they be requesting delivery?
  • Where will your inventory be located?
  • What will be the source of truth for inventory/stock levels, customer information, and order tracking?
  • Who will process orders, and what processes/systems can make that function most efficient?
  • Who will be responsible for responding to customer enquiries, and what expectations should customers have with regard to the speed and content of your answers?
  • Which shipping methods will you use?  Do the providers of those services offer integration with your preferred eCommerce platform?
  • Which payment processor will you use, and do they integrate with your preferred eCommerce platform?
  • Do you need to integrate with your Point of Sale system?
  • Should you integrate with your Retail Management System, and/or customise existing measurements of employee sales performance?
  • Does your preferred eCommerce platform integrate with your existing CRM and/or marketing platform?
  • Will you be selling in multiple currencies, offering discounts, selling and redeeming vouchers?
  • Do you envision needing functionality in the future that your preferred eCommerce platform doesn’t provide? Will this be a deal breaker?
  • Having considered a variety of systems as a result of these questions, what providers offer simpler, more tightly integrated solutions, including the ability to integrate with other platforms?

Share the journey, and learn from it

Just as you find yourself with time on your hands, many of your customers are in the same situation. Now could be the perfect time to enlist their help in support of making your customer experience better. Even engaging customer feedback with a simple survey or opinion poll with SurveyMonkey can help guide you and affirm some of your decisions, as you look to the future.

Read Part one: The world is changing and with it, retail

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