How your retail business can survive public works
100% of drivers do not enjoy looking for a parking spot. 100% of people do not enjoy having to cross the street because of construction. 100% of retailers want their business to be easily accessible. Our source? Common sense. While construction generally arises from a city’s plan for improvement and increased efficiency, it also comes with a little bit of chaos. It’s always challenging for business owners and communities because they slow down a street’s activity. With less parking spots, noise, and sometimes dusty sidewalks, consumers lose the ease and fun of shopping.
Paradoxically, construction is often started on a street to optimize its flow and bring more people to the businesses that liven it up. If municipalities don’t always come up with plans to help business owners go through this transitional phase (which can be a long one), retailers need to have a strategy for survival.
The capital of construction
Montréal, the metropolis of La Belle Province of Canada, is not only a tech-friendly city, it’s also the capital of construction. As beautiful, welcoming and alive as the city is, wandering around it without having to make a detour is mission impossible. In the Montreal Gazette series “Under Construction”, retailers and other parties involved discuss public works and their impact on businesses. Some business owners say they have lost almost 50% of their customers with construction.
All hope isn’t lost, though. The city still manages to attract many tourists and locals are always out and about, which means business owners must have found solutions and tools to keep their customers and to attract new ones. More than ever when your street is in shambles, your business cannot be. Here are some concrete ideas to outshine concrete contractors.
A unique storefront
Construction vehicles, workers, and signs make it harder for people passing by to come visit your business. Is it open? Is construction affecting your opening hours? By the time potential visitors have answered their own questions, they have reached the next block. The first important step to keep your activity going: signage that tells passersby that you’re here and open for business!
A discipline called color psychology focuses on the fact that colors affect our perception and can trigger emotions. A good shopping experience always starts with an eye-catching signage strategy. Here’s a little list of what your storefront needs to be:
- Clean. Duh, we know. But really, aim for Mr. Clean’s forehead kind of shiny. People see everything. Start with the basics.
- Clear. Opening hours need to be displayed, and we need to know right away what your business is about.
- Inviting. Pick colors that will represent your brand and your industry, and a layout that will show what you do in a unique way.
- Visible. Work from the inside but check your storefront from the outside, go to the other side of the street to see it just like people will see it.
Say hi to technology
At its best, technology brings us closer when we can’t interact in person. Aunt Georgia from Australia doesn’t seem to be a 22-hour flight away from you now that you can see her every day via video chat. As construction stands between your business and your customers like a brick wall, you need to find a way around it and keep in touch with them. It’s becoming more feasible with eCommerce, which is the only way you can keep interacting with customers who are no longer able to park in front of your store. In the United States, there will be a 45% year-to-year increase in online transactions in 2016. The forecast of the National Retail Federation makes it clear that nowadays, shopping starts with online browsing.
Meet your customers online
There is no reason for loyal customers to buy from another store if they are satisfied with your products and service. Customers are doing their part by coming back but you need to do yours by offering an extended service and meeting them where and when they want to buy. When your store is less accessible and the environment around it is less inviting, allow your customers to stay home but still be able to buy from their favorite retailer.
If you don’t have an online presence during construction, you’ll be like a candle on a windy day. Your flame will struggle to keep its fire burning and eCommerce is the electricity that powers up today’s retail landscape. 76% of Canadians have shopped or looked for an item online this year, while nearly 70% of Americans have done the same, and the list goes on. You want a piece of that cake, especially when your other options include major obstacles like public works in front of your store.
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One business, multiple sales across channels
85% of online shoppers start on one device and finish their purchase on another. If retailers are still debating about multichannel, consumers are way past this point and made it the new normal. For retailers, multichannel also means much more work as every channel they sell on has to be managed separately. Retailers who want to be online but still manage one business now have a solution, omnichannel. Being omnichannel means that your inventory is exposed and managed in real-time regardless of whether your customer is in-store or online. It means that your back office is centralized and your sales and customer data are managed from one platform. Essentially, omnichannel increases your sales, but not your workflow. It links your retail POS and your eCommerce solution so you have one centralized tool to do everything.
On the customer side, multichannel is getting old. Going to a physical store and not finding the item which was available online has become unacceptable for modern consumers who demand flexibility and accuracy.
What does not ruin you can make you richer
Public works are always a big issue for retail businesses, but we can’t prevent them from happening. What you can do is make it a blessing in disguise by rebuilding your strategy so, in the future, your business’ foundations are so solid that nothing can threaten your success.
In summary, a physical strategy starts with an optimized storefront, and a modern one entails embracing technology, and giving back your customers the flexibility and fun of shopping that construction can take away. Technology will help your business be at its best and the best of retail technology is omnichannel.
All of that will lead you to a newfound success. See for yourself!