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  • Emilie Heaney

How to guide your customers through reopening

If your business is reopening after lockdown, it’s a good idea to plan how you will guide your customers through the changes you’ve made since their last visit.

Helping your customers navigate your store - from the moment they enter to the moment they leave - requires clear messaging to help remove any doubt from the customer experience. The aim here is to give people the confidence to shop from you, whilst making it as lovely an experience as possible!

Crafting the In-store experience

As a result of social distancing measures, you might need to rethink your in-store experience. The way your customers move through your store will have to be adjusted to allow for new government safety guidelines, but that doesn’t mean it has to be stressful. Try to find a way to make the customer experience as calm and inviting as it would be on any other day, just with certain safety measures in place.

Last week one of our team went shopping for the first time since lockdown began. The first thing that struck her wasn’t the hand gel at the door or the staff wearing masks. It was the smell. For her, it was incredible to smell something that wasn’t home. The smell of the store transformed her experience, demonstrating that just a simple scent diffuser can make a massive difference!

People need reassurance that it’s ok to go shopping. Think carefully about the quality of your in-store experience and whether you’re giving your customers the experience they need to buy from you. If your business can be an oasis of tranquility, despite the safety measures, then you’re doing something right!

Letting your brand shine through

It’s also worth considering how your brand identity will shine through in your post-COVID retail experience. Yes, safety is hugely important, but so is the way that customers interact with your brand. If you can merge the two together into a well-crafted customer experience, then you can help visitors to feel welcome and relaxed in your retail space.

Aspects to consider include:

• The customer journey through the shop

• Using signage that is brand appropriate

• Stationing staff where they’ll be most useful to socially distanced customers

• How you'll incorporate cleaning into your daily routine without disrupting the customer experience

• Making safety measures fun!

As you guide your customers through the reopening of your physical stores, think about how you can incorporate your brand identity into every change you make, minimising the stress factor and maximising the enjoyment factor!

Changing the conversation

You may also need to plan how you will pitch your in-store experience to your customers. Many people are reluctant to make the transition back from shopping online to shopping in store, so your brand messaging will need to respond to this.

The best way to do this is to change the conversation - shopping is not just about safety, it is about a stimulating experience for all the senses! Positioning your brand as an escape from normality, a chance to step away from the stresses of the outside world, can offer a new perspective on the post-Covid shopping experience.

Try to approach your reopening with a reassuring, upbeat tone that shows your customers you have everything under control. Use your social media to invite customers in. Show them the array of new products you have in store and all the niceties that come with shopping in person, rather than online!

Relaying relevant information

The majority of your marketing will ideally be focussed on the positive aspects of your brand and the wonderful things customers can expect from your in-store experience. However, it will also be necessary for you to relay some technical information too.

The government regulations are changing rapidly so try to keep your customers abreast of relevant changes. For instance, if you require customers to wear face masks and gloves to visit your store, aim to communicate this as early as possible, not when they’re at the door! You can use your website, social media and email marketing channels to cover any changes.

Try to be as clear and concise as possible. We are swimming in an overload of information on the recent pandemic so make your brand voice cut through the noise. Tell your customers exactly what they need to know to be able to shop safely and easily at your stores. Then centre back on the amazing things they can expect from you!

Be the voice of reason

The best way to guide your customers through your reopening is to be as clear, calm and communicative as possible. Updating your social media and your website regularly is the best way to do this. Share how you are working behind the scenes to make the experience as simple and as enjoyable as possible and demonstrate to your customers that you are a safe pair of hands.

Many businesses have been forced to adapt to the new normal and consumers have too. If you can be the friendly face in the crowd, then you can encourage customers to come to you. Try to offer your brand as a break from the strange world we’re living in!

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