Widespread internet access, rapid international supply chains and the proliferation of ecommerce over the last decade has given New Zealand’s shoppers access to an endless supply of products from across the globe. However, with a pandemic-induced desire to support local communities and businesses, coupled with the consumer shift away from international brands, 2021 will see a previously rapid retail globalisation slow, at least temporarily, and local reign supreme. In times of global economic strain, innovation thrives, and by capitalising on its supportive retail communities and the relative stability of a nationwide ‘Covid-normal’, New Zealand’s independent retail sector is one industry which stands to gain. If you’re a retailer, here are some ways to play to your local hand in 2021.
One of the keys to building a successful business valued by local communities is investing in, and being proud of, yourself. Be proud of where you come from, and what you do. Talk about the quality of your materials and where they’re from, why they make beautiful gifts, and share glowing reviews and the story behind your business. Retail is one of the strongest industries for breeding community, so reach out to yours; tell them what you’re excited about this year and how they can visit your store.
Find ways to promote yourself within your neighbourhood, such as local events and meet-ups, or partnering with non-competing businesses, like a local coffee shop in the area to spread the word. While ecommerce has had a significant impact on the industry over the last decade, what has never and will never change are the two core pillars of retail – beautiful products and delightful experiences. These core pillars, supplemented with an effective online presence, could go a long way in helping your business shine brighter than ever in the months ahead.
Get found online
Just as promoting your business’ community ties will help build customer loyalty, boosting your visibility in local online searches will help you build your local presence. Most consumers turn to Google to find businesses in their area, and according to the search giant, 90% of global shoppers said that they use online search before visiting a store. So, consider how you could take advantage of tools such as Google My Business, Pointy from Google or your business website. No matter the platform, ensure it’s clearly populated with as many details as possible – including your contact details and store hours – so customers know when and how to contact you. Whenever possible, go beyond just providing basic info by adding photos of your store and encouraging your customers to rate and review your business and the products they purchase. Encouraging and incentivising customers to post photos and leave glowing reviews will put you in great stead with both new and existing customers, and make them feel more in-tune with your business.
Maximise loyalty marketing
With the ‘support local’ sentiment in New Zealand perhaps as strong as ever, it remains vital to deliver delightful experiences on all platforms to ensure you maintain customer loyalty. One of the best ways to understand your customers, what they want and how they interact with your brand is to look at your customer data. Dig into the information and insights, and ask yourself questions such as ‘Where are they from?’, ‘What channels are they using?’, ‘What types of shoppers do I have?’. Leveraging data will be critical in the ongoing post-pandemic resurgence, helping to create strategies that keep customers engaged, and increase revenue. Embrace real-time data applications to create personalised shopper experiences both online and in-store, group shoppers based on their profiles and buying behaviors, then tailor your messages and campaigns accordingly.
Despite the widespread disruption that took place in 2020, New Zealand’s unwavering support for local businesses post-pandemic, and it’s comparative speed of recovery, means that the country’s independent retail industry is set to thrive in 2021 and beyond. Capitalising on the opportunity to stand loud and proud about where you’re from, getting your business found online and boosting customer engagement will not only put you in a good position now, but for many years to come.
Vaughan Fergusson, Founder of Vend, the industry-leading point of sale and retail management platform that lets retailers run their business in-store, online and on-the-go. For more information visit https://www.vendhq.com/