There’s no question that the COVID Pandemic has come with difficult struggles and challenges for furniture retailers. Survival has required them to face those challenges head on. For the furniture retailer it’s heartening to know that most customers still prefer a human interaction when shopping for furniture. Customers want and need the expertise and consultation of a professional. When you offer safe and effective ways to interact with your staff, customers will trust you enough to shop with you. You can survive the current challenges by thinking out of the box to provide the shopping experience your customers want and need.
Consider these five ideas:
1. Make Your Sales Team Available by Appointment – You may find that many of your customers prefer shopping when they know there will be a limited number of customers inside the store. They want a personalized shopping experience that reduces the number of people they have to interact with and keeps them safe from contracting COVID.
You can advertise your personalized shopping experience via your company website, Facebook page, radio ads and all of the regular advertising methods. Some stores find it especially helpful to have certain hours of the day dedicated to appointments for high risk individuals (65 and older & pre existing conditions) so they can feel safer and more comfortable shopping in your store. Some retailers are finding that this approach has actually caused their operation to be more profitable because they can staff at more appropriate and exacting levels.
2. Let Customers “Shop at a Distance” – You are likely to have a percentage of customers who simply don’t feel comfortable leaving their home for any reason at all. You may operate in a city with strict “lockdown orders” that prevent you from opening your doors to anyone. You can alleviate these challenges by allowing your customers to “shop at a distance.”
There are an endless number of ways retailers can provide a “shop at a distance” experience. You can utilize a simple phone call, or offer Facetime, Hangouts or Zoom consultations You can also use a platform specifically for meeting and tracking customers. Talk with your staff to strategize new ways to help your customers have access to your expertise, your inventory and your service.
3. Be Sensitive to Your Customers’ Concerns – Regardless of how you feel about the pandemic and the various measures put into place to alleviate potential dangers you need to let your customer know that you take their health and safety very seriously. Some of your customers are terribly worried about their own health as well as that of their family and friends. Others believe the virus to be real but feel the reaction has been an over reaction. All of your customers will be grateful if you treat them with respect and courtesy.
Let your customers dictate the way they experience your store. Ask how they prefer to interact with the staff once they are inside the store. Do they want to maintain 6 feet of distance? Do they want the salesperson to wear a fresh set of gloves? Do they want to interact with the furniture? Asking questions like these will help you provide the shopping experiences your customers need.
4. Provide Masks and Sanitizer for Customers and Staff – Whether you decide to let customers come to your store on their own schedule or you require them to make an appointment, be sure to take precautions to help your customers feel safe and comfortable. Provide masks and hand sanitizers at every store entrance and exit.
5. Find Ways to Serve Your Community – Find ways to help your community during this difficult challenge. Your company name will certainly benefit from the good press, but more importantly, it’ll keep your employees working and ensure you are ready to return to the sales floor when business resumes.