Being a small retail business store owner in India shas never been more challenging. After experiencing multiple lockdowns and being impacted by the acceleration of ecommerce, you must come up with innovative ways to draw customers to your store in the post pandemic economy.
Moreover, you must be able to compete with some of the biggest global brands out there to ensure a highly engaging in-store customer experience to ensure repeat visits and business. Right from great hygiene and a highly digitized experience to essentials such as a 20-litre mineral can and frequent sanitization, you must be flawless on all fronts to offer a memorable and personalized in-store experience to your customers.
In fact, while some customers may be willing to overlook your omnichannel experience-related offerings compared to big brands in exchange of the personal connect that you are able to provide, health and hygiene are set to remain non-negotiable for most customers.
The good news is that more than ever, customers are eager to go back to life as they knew it and are willing to spend on retail experiences that offer them the value they are seeking – quality, experience, post-purchase service.
So if you are wondering how you should budget and spend on in-store essentials in a post pandemic economy, here are some guidelines.
Be up-to-date with health and lifestyle preferences
Your customers are likely to remain loyal and experience high recall when your values match theirs. In recent times, growing awareness about health, and the benefits of mineral water, have led a huge number of Indians to buy mineral water for regular consumption at home and outside. This is also because at home purification techniques such as RO rob drinking water of minerals and impact its health quotient.
Further, they are becoming highly conscious of contributing to a zero-waste future. Hence, they are likely to turn down your offer for pocket-sized packaged mineral water. On the other hand, they are likely to appreciate when you stock 20-litre mineral water cans that deliver on both, health, and sustainability concerns. Moreover, these are more economical for you too as compared to pocket-sized mineral water bottles, and also see less wastage.
Invest in smart ventilation and natural air purifiers
You need to ensure that your entire store allows customers to experience the high-on-safety lifestyle that they seek. Accordingly, you need to invest in large windows that open to greens you might have planted outside your store. Make sure to plant high air purifying plants both, inside and outside the store. Further, if you are using air-conditioners, invest in modern air purification systems. You might also want to design your store in a way that customers need to remove their masks only in the openair section or area inside your store or in the courtyard outside. For instance, you might want to place the 20-litre mineral water can right near the door or close to an open window so that customers who you serve water are not unmasked when they are in low-ventilated areas.
Facilitate contactless shopping experience
One of the biggest transformation that you might need to thrive on customer confidence in the post pandemic economy is facilitate a contactless shopping experience. This is because apart from hygiene and health reasons, customers find convenience in contactless experience owing to online engaging and shopping experiences. Accordingly, you might want to use white labels apps for in-store engagement and purchases, have apparatus that pours out water into a clay glass (single-use and good for the planet) without requiring customers to touch the top on that 20-litre mineral water can, and so on. Remember, you don’t have to invest heavily in technology; just use some key elements to create customer confidence.
Running a small retail business has never been easy. However, today, you have the opportunity to go from surviving to thriving by paying attention to details – mineral water cans, powerful ventilation, phone-based engagement. If you think it is all going to cost you a fortune, start by onboarding interns to help you on sustainable ideas, or offer to allow minimum viable product pilots in your store to other buying young entrepreneurs and talent. Remember, your customers love you for a reason – innovation and diligence – and not necessarily fancy investments that will only pay in the long run.
Finally, a word of caution. Remember, to introduce everything in phases, evaluate customer response to change, and execute the rest of your plans accordingly. A sudden transformation may not be your best bet if you haven’t conducted a focus group survey, which honestly, can be a time and resource-consuming activity for a small, entrepreneur-led business in India.