As doors open and business begins to navigate the impacts of a COVID riddled world each industry has their obstacles to overcome. From live music venues to doctor offices to mechanics. Every industry has unique needs and now the need for public safety will be unique as doors re-open. Here is a list of some pivots and consumer behavior we believe will be new considerations to implement in your business or watch out on how it may affect your customers purchasing habits.
Automated Basic living
As our beloved stores, brands, and coffee shops closed their doors as they were not deemed non-essential, customers were faced with a choice to search out new locations to achieve the same product that was obtainable from their living room. Or they deemed said service or product is not needed or reduced frequency of use, for those high turnover products/ service. For those finding themselves in this boat, focus on reduced promotions to bring back those older clients to form habits again utilizing your services or new clients all together that have yet to put a value proposition to your company or brand.
Blended work schedules
As businesses re-open, so are schools and child care. With schools districts addressing Covid-19 differently from district to district, work schedules will be affected. This can impact your employees as their options for child care are not as vast as they once were. Moreover, employees that have pre-existing medical conditions may choose to reduce hours or seek continued remote work locations. Lastly, if employees can not find a fit for child care, they may reduce hours or choose to stay home with their kids; this will impact the consumer purchasing power depending on the widespread severity of these decisions. As hours are reduced, those customers' disposable income will have an impact in your sales. Look for ways to breakdown your cost or purchasing into smaller payments. If you do not want to take on the financing, there are numerous simple automated financing companies available to support this. What's more likely to close a sale? A one time payment of $600 or 12 payments of $50; many more families are able to justify the payment plan.
The last three months have given the world plenty of uncertainty. Plans were canceled and undoubtedly will have forever affected lives. During this time of uncertainty, many assets were hoarded, and yes more than toilet paper. Depending on perspective, some hoarded money, some hoarded food, others, sadly, toilet paper. Many focused on their payments and spending habits to cut back or reduce payments. These positions or assumptions of scarcity have affected purchasing behavior. Store pick up, deliveries, and massive one-time-a-week shopping trips have become the usual. Over the course of the last twelve weeks consumers have shifted habits away from the in-store experience. You should be finding ways to get in front of your customers that do not require the in-store experience. Consider cross marketing that compliments your brand with a seemingly more “essential” product consumer continues to purchase and endure the stores for.
We believe profit reductions will occur for one of a few reasons. First, as impulse and non-essential brands, products, or services are reduced, we are left with fewer customers in many industries. This will result in increased competition amongst those still servicing this industry. Contenders need to focus on increasing offerings to other industries or new customers that have yet to obtain said services or products. Second, reduced capacity of businesses will have an impact on businesses that service directly with the public. The cost structure of a business has not changed but the amount of customers that can serviced in a store or retail location have been reduced. This leaves the option of increasing prices to cover this drop in business, but I would not advise. Or reduce profits, or, our favorite, focus on non-inperson options. Audit your offerings and see what you can offer remotely and use technology to increase business volume and not be managed by county capacity restrictions. This is true for even large retail stores, such as Home Depot and or WalMart, if you are selling in these distribution channels, you have to expect slower moving products and should be looking for other ways to get in front of your customers not going to the stores.
This is the obvious one, safety PPE everywhere in every industry, but maybe not why you think; risk mitigation. In a lawsuit happy world, the question comes down to who is burdened with the responsibility of deciding its time to reopen and creating the parameters of opening safely. When this all started, Idea House jumped in to help import masks to meet the needs of health facilities and commercial manufacturing and we met with legal team after legal team because they were fearful of limitations for it would open them up to the responsibility if staff were to come ill. As you re-open, you need to consider both employees and customers. What is required for those entering your office or place or work? Does this expose your employees or customers in any way? Taking inventory and auditing your plan for re-opening is a good place to start.
The reality is the world is changing fast and small to medium sized businesses and brands are trying to make the best decision for our safety, our livelihood, and doing what we love. Take these into consideration as you re-open, understand everyone's perspective, and be nice during these tough uncertain times; it is new for everyone.