Many business have had to find ways to allow employees to work remotely and to connect virtually with customers. For service and project-based businesses, most of the available virtual tools can fit fairly seamlessly into existing business practices.
More creative solutions are needed for businesses who rely on customers visiting their physical locations, such as retail shops. Here are some tips that can help your shop reach your customers virtually. These are great if you cannot have your physical location open and can also help you reach customers outside of your geographical area.
Virtual meetings are a natural replacement for in-person meetings that would otherwise happen in a conference room. Using tools such as a video conferencing service can also be valuable for retail establishments. If you frequently spend time with your retail customers discussing specs of various items, such as computers or printers, for example, you can easily have these conversations by video conference. You can work with your customer to determine their needs and discuss how various products may or may not meet those needs.
In addition, you can have one-on-one virtual personal shopping calls with a customer while you’re in your store to allow them to see your full inventory selection. If your customer is looking for a baby gift, for example, you can walk around the shop with your device to allow them to browse your offerings. You’ll be able to answer any questions about the items as you do, making this a more personal shopping experience than simply looking at a store on a website.
Besides offering live virtual shopping for your customers, it’s a good idea to set up a website. This gives your customers the flexibility to shop when it’s convenient for them, and it shows them all of your offerings in one place. Online item listings give you the space to include detailed product descriptions when that could be helpful.
With your online shop in place, you can also use your billing software to help customers feel more secure during financial transactions. While it’s true that purchases could be paid for over the phone by simply taking all of your customer’s credit card information, this can feel risky for some clients. Using the secure payment tool you’ve set up for online shopping means that your business can get all of the information it needs to bill your customer for any purchases. Your customer can rest assured that all of the actual credit card information is securely encrypted by the sales vendor.
For shops working with local customers, offering curbside pickup and store delivery might be financially reasonable and can help the entire transaction feel more connected. More customers are choosing to “shop local” to support their favorite small businesses. Hand-delivering their purchases can help that relationship feel more personal and encourage them to come back to you for their future shopping needs.
Of course, for customers that are located far away, this isn’t a feasible option. In that case, having a shipping solution set up in advance helps streamline the process when you receive orders. Consider what type of packaging you’ll need to safely ship the various items you sell and have the necessary materials on hand. Then set up an account with a shipping company, and arrange for them to pick up your outgoing packages as often as seems necessary for your business.
Online business solutions are not just for companies that traditionally work from offices. If you have a brick-and-mortar retail location, using these tools can help you expand your customer base and allow you to do business even when your store cannot be open.
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