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There’s no denying that 2020 has been a difficult year for most retailers.

Our agency, ADAO, is located in the Warwickshire town of Rugby, where even established organisations have decided to close.

For instance, Debenhams have stopped trading from Elliot Fields Retail Park, after just 5 years of opening in the town for the first time.

If large retailers are struggling to handle the pressure and starting to close off branches, smaller independent businesses require more support than ever from their local communities just to survive.

Speaking from personal experience and working from home, I’ve been grabbing my lunches at least once per week from Olivia’s Coffee Shop or Wilda’s Jacket Potato Shop to support local trade. I mean, what’s not to like about a Terry’s chocolate orange brownie? The walk there and back burns off at least one slice (or so I like to think!)

66 likes from this post, and over 3,134 people follow Olivia’s Coffee House Facebook page. Not bad!

 

With your shop closed for November, does Lockdown #2 present an opportunity?

With the announcement of Lockdown #2, pubs and cafes are offering a takeaway service to support operations. However, what can others do to survive? An online presence can be key to generating engagement and revenue. Supplementing sales through a presence ‘both on and offline’ is critical for sustaining revenue.

Under regular trading conditions, we’ve talked before about how an effective online presence is important. Now, with footfall in town centres at an all-time low due to lockdown, local independent businesses need to look at more immediate objectives to capitalise on reaching their core demographic online.

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1. Embrace digital transformation – take your business online

Maybe you have never explored looking beyond your physical store to generate revenue? Perhaps the extent of your advertising is through yell.com and that has satisfied your requirements historically?

Having a willingness to be adaptable, and to capture a new audience could make or break your business during this high pressure period. This approach is especially important at a time where broad and general economic trends are tough enough to predict, let alone a forecast for your business that has never previously experienced the impacts of a pandemic.

We’ve all had to become adaptable during Covid. Maybe you have ordered a takeaway from your favourite restaurant that had never previously offered this service before the outbreak. If these organisations have had to adapt, maybe yours can benefit from adapting too?

This may not stop at the extent of having a website or social media presence. Perhaps you can incorporate a live chat feature, or incorporate another means of communication such as WhatsApp for your business?

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2. Create an online presence through a website or social media

 

Clothes on a clothing rail

3. Combine offline and online customer experiences

E-commerce exists for many reasons, not least its ability to generate revenue through your website. This is where it’s important to adapt elements such as your delivery lead times, methods (to deliver in a safe and secure manner), and so on..

If you don’t have a need or requirement for an online store, or a delivery service; you need to consider how to attract consumers to your business in a manageable way. The way this is communicated online is imperative to reassuring customers around your approach, as well as ensuring their safety and wellbeing.

Can you offer your customers anything experiential in-store to attract them to visit? You only have to look at the likes of Wolf Pack Tennis or Soft Play Zone offered by Yum Yum World inspiring people to hit the high street.

 

Neon sale sign

4. Plan ahead with your marketing campaigns

The current climate might be grey, but it’s important to remain focused and optimistic. There’s huge importance in your business relaying this sentiment to customers. Generating some excitement during these times and boosting the morale of the local community is critical.

Our digital agency has recently rounded off a Free Logo Competition centred around our 10 year anniversary, with the lucky winner having their brand new logo created as we speak!

Offering something for free may be a stretch too far for some businesses, so you may wish to take another approach. Embrace the opportunity to engage and attract a new follower base through whatever means you have, and promote your marketing campaign as effectively as you can – online and also through local resources such as the Rugby Advertiser.


If you don’t already have a 3 month marketing plan in place to cover up to 2021, and require support; please get in contact with us to help.


 

Lady smiling while on mobile call with laptop on leather sofa

5. Collaborate with other retailers and support each other

You’re not alone in your struggles as an independent business owner during Covid.

Your business and your customers can benefit from the services of other (non-competing) local businesses during this time; so do your best to keep lines of communication open with your customers and conversations flowing.

Do you partner with local businesses for your supplies? Thank them for their cooperation in supporting your efforts, and tag them on across your social channels to expose them to your own community of followers.

 

When is the best time to act?

Putting the foundations in place during Lockdown #2 could stand your business in better stead for 2021, which could also prove to be a tricky time.

In terms of our local town, Rugby Borough Council is set to announce a 15 year town centre regeneration. Although this may sound exciting, not many businesses in Rugby can afford to wait this length of time to take action and make up for the loss of revenue from the effects of the downturn on the high street, plus two lockdowns to date during 2020.

Achieving an effective online presence can take time, but quieter trading periods – or even periods of closure – can allow a business ample time to take a step back to formulate a revised business strategy.

Without an effective online presence, it really does become a struggle to support offline operations – not just in the current Lockdown #2 climate but also beyond, with considerations such as commercial town centre rental costs and other expenses. Being online can serve to support during closure and supplement sales even upon reopening.


Want to know more, or looking to implement any of these steps for your business but don’t know where to start? We’re open to your questions! Contact ADAO on 01788 220026 or email us at info@adao.co.uk. 


 

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