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Hardware Retailers: Adjusting to the New Normal

As business owners, we know how to run our business and how to deal with “known unknowns”— those events like hurricanes, tornados or snowstorms whose timing is unpredictable but where the response has been effectively built on years of prior service.  With COVID-19, we are dealing with an “unknown unknown” and to navigate these events proactively requires solid planning, strong communication and operational adaptability.

Therefore, to help smooth your transition to operating in the current “unknown unknown,” here are five tips to strengthen your operations and increase customer loyalty.

  • Continued Communication: It is crucial to be creative about how you communicate with employees, suppliers, and clients. Your business should adopt the necessary technology to allow for remote work. Using communications software like Zoom or GoToMeeting is a great way to continue your high level of personal touch with suppliers and customers. Effective communication not only fosters good relationships with employees, but it can also improve customer loyalty and thus sales.
  • Store merchandising: Store merchandising is used to stimulate customers’ interest and entice customers to make a purchase. Ideas can be drawn from fashion retail or cosmetic stores that display their newest or most popular merchandise at the entrance of the stores or where they are easily visible to customers. With the appropriate merchandising techniques in stores, you can improve your customer experience, store ambiance, and potential sales. To help you improve your business’ merchandising, here are six components of an effective display for you to consider.
  • Adhere to safety measures: By adhering to COVID-19 safety laws and best practices, you provide a safe work environment for your staff and a safe shopping space for your customers. We encourage every business owner and employee to wear a mask, continually wash hands, and provide in-store markings to encourage social distancing, such as one-way aisles and plexiglass barriers at checkouts. There is no quicker way to ruin a solid first half of 2020 than if an employee or customer get COVID-19 and your business must shut down.  
  • Virtual Trade Shows: These virtual trade shows can be used to drive sales in the short term. While a virtual trade show does not take the place of in-person meetings and, an effective online marketing campaign can allow you to brainstorm about and purchase products and services without risking the health of your employees and customers. 
  • Build on-site systems for easy adaptability: This can be done by investing in a good customer service team, using a tracking system to ensure delivery using the quickest route, providing contactless methods of payment and instituting curbside pickup. There are multiple options for your store and to help you get started, here are 3 additional tips on how to ensure easy adaptability when the unexpected occurs.

We wish everyone a safe and healthy second half of 2020. 

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