We have been surveying our community on a weekly basis to better understand the impact of coronavirus on your business, in order to help you stay informed and agile.
Our recent results demonstrated that many retailers are still struggling without federal loan assistance relief. While we saw a 12 percentage point increase in retailers who have received funding over the past week, 68% are still waiting. Here are five ways you can increase revenue in the interim.
Experiment with new online channels
Only 30% of retailers we surveyed are currently investing in new online channels. While it may sound daunting or expensive, there are many free tools at your disposal that allow you to consistently engage with consumers and keep your brand top of mind.
If you have an existing database of customer emails collected through prior purchases, start a cadence of weekly emails, or experiment with a newsletter. Use this opportunity to highlight new products, offer a promotion, or simply share a personal anecdote. Jackson Hole retailer, MADE recently offered a birthday coupon via their newsletter, and Kristin Scott, owner of Spitfire Girl based in Los Angeles and Austin, recently received a new purchase through her newsletter from a customer whose last order was placed over two years ago.
Additionally, consider avenues to cross-promote your business with other retailers in your community. Our survey shows that 45% of retailers are already connecting with other businesses, and we encourage more to follow suit. Running a joint giveaway through social media is a great way to introduce your brand to a completely new audience. Y&I Clothing Boutique, based in San Francisco and Dallas, has been successfully running giveaways on Instagram with up to five other retailers at a time, gaining exposure to 5x the reach compared to a standard Instagram post.
Meet customers where they are
With nearly a 100% decrease in retail foot traffic, it’s important to pursue other methods of getting products in the hands of customers to continue bringing money in the door.
At least 34% of retailers are running free shipping promotions, and many retailers are offering other incentivizing options like free delivery or curbside pickup. Eric Wang, owner of San Francisco gift shop, EI Home, is reaching out directly to customers in the area to offer speedy same-day delivery with handwritten thank you notes. In Oklahoma City, OK Collective and Common Dear owners, Jessi and Kelli Newsome are offering free contactless pickup, by organizing individual times with local customers.
Another method retailers are using while maintaining healthy social distancing include delivering more personalized shopping experiences. Apple Valley, California retailer, Kayleen’s Closet has been modeling new apparel items via Facebook Live, while Barrington, Illinois retailer, Amazing Gracie’s is offering shopping appointments via FaceTime.
Diversify your offerings to match consumer demand
It’s clear that consumer shopping behavior has shifted amid mandated shelter in place orders, and it’s important to continue to adjust accordingly.
Around 41% of makers have already started changing or reprioritizing their product assortment, and since we launched our face masks collection, there are nearly 200 brands selling face masks on the platform. Consider shifting your inventory to stock up on essential items that are currently in demand. You can browse the entire masks assortment here, along with other featured collections like Family Time and Home Essentials.
And while essentials like face masks and hand sanitizer have remained among the top searches on Faire, recently we’ve seen some more unique items begin to trend, like pajamas, puzzles and sourdough kits. About 69% of retailers are already reaching out to customers to communicate – try asking your customers directly through platforms like social media or email, about the kind of products they are looking for to keep themselves entertained and comfortable while at home.
Re-merchandise your existing inventory
If you don’t have the capital or the means to purchase new inventory right now, you’re not alone. The survey shows that 76% of retailers only have enough capital available for 0-3 months of operating expenses.
Consider re-merchandising existing products by taking stock of your inventory and bundling items together to create a unique package. Brooklyn-based retailer and co-owner of Woods Grove, Robby Schnall tends to stock a lot of seasonal products, but this year he plans to rely on existing inventory to promote special gifts for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
Apply for funding, it’s not too late
We’ve seen a week by week increase in the amount of retailers who have received funding under the CARES Act. As of May 1, we saw 32% of retailers who applied receiving funding, up from 20% the week prior.
It’s not too late to apply to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). If you haven’t applied for relief yet, learn more about how to apply here. We encourage you to apply immediately, as this second round of funding may also run out quickly.
Many of you have applied only to the disaster loan program (EIDL), which many customers are reporting is only paying out $1K per employee, rather than the $10K grant that was promised. You may want to consider applying to the PPP as well, after checking your EIDL status online through the SBA’s website, or calling the SBA at 1-800-659-2955.
Lastly, a friendly reminder that sole proprietors can indeed apply to the PPP. You can use your 2019 IRS Form 1040 net profit amount (Schedule C, line 31). According to the Treasury, if you have not yet filed a 2019 return, you can fill it out and compute the value.
We’re in this together
We will continue to provide you with updates as they become available, as well as share the best practices we’re seeing among our retailer community.