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Reopening for Recovery: Tactics From Our Retailer Community

May 14, 2020 | Published by Faire

Photo courtesy of Jamie Kelter Davis Photography and Fleur, Inc.

Last week we shared learnings from essential retailers in our community on how to safely reopen your store, as protecting your staff and customers remains top of mind during the coronavirus pandemic. 

While our latest survey results show that over 60% of retailers have been forced to remain closed due to various restrictions, 20% have reopened and are seeing low-to-moderate foot traffic. As you carefully consider the best time to reopen your business based on guidelines set by your local authorities, we have compiled some creative strategies retailers in our community are deploying as they safely reopen their businesses.  

Offer personal shopping appointments

Many consumers remain cautious about returning to a normal shopping environment. Harris Poll survey results show that 89% of Americans have taken steps to ensure they leave their residence as little as possible. Offering individual shopping appointments allows you to safely service concerned customers or those who are considered high-risk, while providing a more personalized in-store experience.

Off White bridal boutique owner, Chelsea Goss has reopened her Salt Lake City shop by personal appointment only. Using an app integration like Square, customers can book time through her website and receive calendar reminders and text updates for their appointment. All bookings are spaced with a 30-minute buffer to allow time to sanitize the shop. To ensure the safety of guests and employees, both parties are required to wear masks and use hand sanitizer at the start of each appointment. If guests don’t have masks, they are available for purchase in the shop.

In Marietta, Ohio, lifestyle handmade and vintage shop, Wit & Whimzy, has seen a 100% sales conversion rate for personal appointment shoppers. Owner Laura Pytlik shared that shoppers booking appointments through her website or social media aren’t just coming in to browse, and they spend 15-20 minutes on average shopping in the store before making a purchase. Two to three appointments are allowed at single time based on the size of the store, and a sign on the door allows customers to knock for an immediate appointment, pending available capacity. In order to continue to cater to customers who feel most protected through a personal shopping experience, Laura plans to continue to offer a one-hour window in the morning for appointments only, even when she fully reopens.

A glass shield for safe transactions. Photo courtesy of Wit & Whimzy.

Run a promotion

According to our survey, 77% of retailers continue to report a decrease in sales. Running a promotion is a great way to help bring people to your store with purchase intent for a specific occasion.

Gillyweeds, a lifestyle market located in Newnan, Georgia, has been offering daily deals on remaining merchandise from prior seasons. Each morning, owner Valerie Dumas shares the daily item for sale via Instagram and her website. By the time the store opens later that day, multiple sales have already been accounted for; and with in-store pickup now available, online shoppers are making additional purchases when they arrive to retrieve their order. For Mother’s Day this year, Valerie organized a pop up art show and floral shop. She featured the work of 17 local artists with pieces all under $100. By sharing a preview online before opening up in-store, she was able to drum up additional excitement and ultimately sold out of every piece in the show.

Dixie Lemons, the owner of Hoity Toity Boutique, located in Alexandria, Louisiana, has seen success experimenting with trunk shows. Given the hot climate this time of year, Dixie first tested the experience with a kimono trunk show during Mother’s Day. She included 29 different styles and offered customers the ability to order additional colors. Given her store is only 720 square feet, this provided a great opportunity to maximize the use of space and move inventory quickly. After a great response, she has nearly sold out of all of the kimonos and is now running a new trunk show for jewelry. 

Offer curbside pickup, or buy online & pick up in store

Our survey showed that 50% of retailers are continuing to socially distance themselves from customers. As you monitor for the appropriate time to reopen, there are a few ways you can continue to make sales without having to account for shipping. 

In Chicago, lifestyle boutique and floral studio, Fleur Inc., has reopened with curbside pickup. Owner Kelly Marie Thompson set up a table outside the shop’s front door so that when guests arrive, a staff member can retrieve their order for easy contactless drop off. Kelly Marie shared that this slow rollout has actually helped provide her staff the time to reconfigure the rest of the store so that when they fully reopen, customers can shop as seamlessly as possible while remaining socially distant. To hear more about how Kelly Marie is reaching customers during this time, listen to this week’s episode of Brick & Order.

Chicago Mayor, Lori Lightfoot picks up a curbside order. Photo courtesy of Fleur, Inc.

Madison & Co. home decor and clothing boutique in Greenville, South Carolina didn’t have much of an online presence when coronavirus hit. Owner Lori Powers saw how impactful Facebook Live sales could be for other small business owners and started experimenting herself. Now that she has reopened, she’s letting customers order via Facebook Live and pickup in-store. Not only is this saving on shipping costs, but 75-80% of the customers that come in to pick up their orders end up browsing the shop and purchase additional items. 

Test with a soft opening

With nearly one in four retailers noting a 75% decrease in foot traffic according to our survey, a soft opening can help test the waters to gauge whether your customers are ready to come into the store to shop, and what kind of expectations they may have when they do.

Katherine Neill, the owner of two boutiques located in the tourist town of Apalachicola, Florida, started small with a soft opening at one of her stores called Coast. She set a few garment racks outside to signal the shop was open to any passersby, and in the doorway set up hand sanitizer and disposable surgical masks with instructions to use both before entering. To keep the store and customers safe, capacity was limited, dressing rooms were sanitized after each use, and any clothes taken to the dressing room but not purchased were removed for sanitization before returning to the rack. Every customer who came into the store ended up making a purchase, demonstrating high intent and great local support. 

Share your learnings

We’ll continue to monitor how retailers are safely reopening and share best practices with our community. If you’re interested in sharing your reopening story with us, please reach out to story-tips@faire.com.   

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