The uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic has left businesses of all kinds struggling to adapt to new ways of working. For many employees, the crisis has translated into a renewed level of enthusiasm for working from home (WFH) and flexible working policies – but this doesn’t suit everyone. Whilst many newly minted home workers are happy to get stuck into their usual activities from the comfort of their own property, businesses that depend on footfall from workers and shoppers have seen their profits decimated as people tighten their belts.
It will come as no surprise that physical retail has taken a hit during the past few months, but that doesn’t mean that those affected can’t do something about it. By targeting the market in new and innovative ways, businesses could reach their regulars even when they are at home – and might even find themselves connecting with new customers along the way.
If this sounds like something you want to be a part of, keep reading to find out how to sell more when customers are working from home.
Remote working: the new normal
Working from home has become a way of life for a considerable portion of the British workforce, with the Office for National Statistics suggesting that 49% of workers had carried out their duties from their own accommodation in the seven days leading up to 14 June 2024.
Whilst at the height of the coronavirus pandemic working from home became part of the life support package businesses rolled out to keep themselves alive and operating, many have now seen fit to keep their staff on the books but out of the office – even as the furlough scheme comes to an end.
As our nation’s workforce begins to return to something that at least slightly resembles normality, it’s clear that attitudes to flexible and remote working have completely changed. In the past, many employers found that letting large bodies of staff work from home presented trust issues, but now that their hands have been forced, they’ve recognised the benefits and firmly embraced WFH. With Google and Facebook extending their home working policies into 2024, and Twitter announcing that some staff will simply work from home “forever”, it’s obvious that our approach to workplace life has been transformed.
Fixing footfall issues
Whilst the UK’s workforce transitioned to home offices across the land, high street footfall took a beating – with the BBC reporting an 80% drop during April alone. Representing the fastest ever recorded drop, high street retail and hospitality businesses bore the brunt of the damage as Springboard described the drop as a “decline of an unprecedented magnitude”.
The effects of COVID-19 on our high streets are yet to be fully realized, but businesses have launched a fightback in the hope of securing their own futures by delivering their usual products and services to customers at home. Taking their lead from a reported rise in the frequency of home delivery services during the pandemic, some businesses have launched their own shelf to shopper service which not only makes life more convenient for consumers but also helps businesses to shift their products even despite the reduced footfall brought about by the pandemic.
As businesses begin to grapple with a whole host of rules and regulations relating to social distancing within their physical stores, starting a delivery service could ease the burden on everyone involved – from staff and customers to business owners and the authorities. Provided that any delivery service makes its backbone out of an effective payment solution (such as a quick and hygienic mobile card machine), it’s undeniable that there is money to be made and customers to be served.
A marketing makeover
For businesses that depend on a traditional marketing model to attract clients, the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown has likely been a nightmare. With no through-traffic on high streets, fewer customers looking into shop windows, and no opportunities for upselling at the counter of closed retail premises, businesses have been forced to find new ways to attract and engage potential customers.
Whether a business depends on traditional high street advertising, or if they rely on the more typical B2B techniques such as events, conferences and trade shows, coronavirus has spelt the end of marketing as we know it for the foreseeable future. As customers across all demographics spend more time at home and online, it may make sense for businesses to shift across to a digital marketing model. From affiliate marketing and paid endorsements, to influencer partnerships and targeted advertising, there are plenty of ways to make a splash on the internet without breaking the bank.
By relying on a digital marketing strategy, businesses could reach customers that they would otherwise never have engaged with – all via the power of the internet. Adopting a digital approach could even help you to cut the slack from your sales funnel, and provided that you have an effective eCommerce payment gateway to make purchases possible, you could be doing direct business with customers that are working from home – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For example, ClickSend recommends communicating with your customers via SMS, email, and rich media by using a web app or an API. It’s in your best interest to provide a multi-channel marketing strategy for your business communications. This way, you can stay closer to your clients across the globe, no matter where they’re located.
If you are interested in setting up digital payment gateway, now is definitely the best time to do so, since many are reporting increases in online sales. For instance, check out the payment solutions, including card machines and eCommerce payment gateways provided by UTP Group. This Merchant Service provider works with reputable Barclaycard Bank and conducts their own fraud checks for all eCommerce and card machine transactions, meaning that working with them you will be well-protected against fraud.
Winning the retail battle against COVID
The COVID-19 pandemic has left businesses across the world facing the unprecedented challenge of running whilst under lockdown. There’s no doubt that it has been hard, but the difficulties faced in the short term could be used as a learning and development opportunity to transform sales, no matter what industry a business occupies.