Saving Retail

By on Jan 15, 2021 in News

Do you remember when online shopping first began to disrupt brick and mortar stores? Shops struggled before the pandemic and now they face additional hurdles. Fortunately, small business owners are creative and resilient. We interviewed several small business owners and marketers to learn how they’re staying in business and keeping customers engaged during the pandemic.


Re-creating the in-store experience

Consultations, semi-private + private shopping Exclusive, in-store shopping experiences were once reserved for the rich and famous. Big-name customers could arrange to shop outside of operating hours or arrange have the shop vacant during their visit. While this is still the case, there are new players on the field.

Tiny shops lifted a page from the celebrity handbook. These small stores limit the number of people permitted in the building to create a more private shopping experience. The added benefit is that customers gain more one-on-one attention and support from clerks.

“This is a terrific way to permit in-person shopping while building customer loyalty and encouraging good online reviews,” says Edith Peele, owner of Simple Threads clothing boutique near Covington, GA. “We’re limiting the number of shoppers for safety, but it feels more like an exclusive, fancy shopping experience.”

Interactive shopping A second opinion can be an incredibly valuable thing. You’ve likely been there: you have two (or more) products that you like. You need to narrow down your options but can’t seem to make a decision on your own. You reach for a second opinion.

That second opinion can now be a store clerk on FaceTime or in a chat window. It’s a relatively simple way to encourage safe interaction and a value-add service not found in larger online-only retailers.

Make gift preparation a breeze By preparing online purchases as gifts, retailers take three tedious steps out of the digital shopping experience: wrapping, packaging and additional shipping.

“We’ve been offering customers the chance to curate their own gift boxes, which shoppers can build over an email, phone or even video call,” says Maggy Moran, the manager of Revival, a clothing boutique in Iowa City.

For a fee, clerks combine products into beautifully arranged gift boxes, wrap them, properly secure them for shipping and then ship them out. It’s a clever way to pump a bit of personality back into digital gift giving.

Improving the in-store experience

Switch up the inventory Businesses built upon high-risk industries such as travel and social gatherings were among the first to diversify their products. Now, more businesses follow suite.

Consumers are still spending money. They’re just spending it differently: fewer flights and more Instagram-worthy DIY projects. Fewer party dresses and more athleisure clothing. Store inventory may need to expand to include more home-oriented goods and services.

I’m the owner of Deeply Rooted Wellness + Yoga, which once specialized in private yoga sessions. With fewer clients wanting live one-on-one sessions and a flood of brick-and-mortar studios offering online classes, the business shifted within three months.

Sales used to run about 80% private yoga and 20% from a small retail nook that included teas, essential oils and herbal bath salts. Now, I’m at nearly 20% and 90% respectively. The herbal products are selling mostly online, with a few curbside pickups and drop offs with loyal customers. The private classes are mostly online corporate yoga and fewer one-on-one workouts.

The lesson? Remain nimble and explore how consumer trends can translate to your business.

Learn how you can keep your storefront operating in peak condition by automating facility maintenance scheduling.

Practical magic (and science) Gov. Andrew Cuomo passed legislation requiring that indoor shopping centers must install specialize air filters before reopening. Businesses don’t need to wait for legislation to take that important step.

Joseph G. Allen, assistant professor at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, shared the basics of healthy indoor ventilation during Clean is the New Green, an NMHC OPTCECH session sponsored by Yardi.

Allen advises building managers to increase natural air flow by opening the dampers on their systems. Additionally, managers can install MERV13 or higher filters. When that’s not possible, portable air purifiers with HEPA filters can capture up to 99.97% of airborne virus particles.

“Buildings can promote health and wellbeing. We have a massive responsibility to get this right,” says Allen.

Once you’ve upgraded your air filtration, include that in your marketing. Consumers will appreciate the steps you’ve taken to enhance the safe shopping experience.