Two months into the strangest time I can remember personally and certainly for retail.
We're all wondering if there are any positives to take from this time! I think - strange - can so very often be a good thing and as far as independent product businesses go - I believe there are so many positives to focus on right now..
With everyone at home, reluctant to go to stores even when they do re-open, online shopping - if done right - will boom, but what if you've not sold online before? Fear not - there are many lessons from your offline sales that can be applied to online selling.
I've spoken to so many businesses over the last few weeks who are heavily reliant on some form of face-to-face selling. That could be through markets, events, pop-up shops or your own brick and mortar store.
They've all been waiting to see what will happen, and it seems we are moving out of 'lockdown' through a phased approach. However, it is not yet clear the extent of 'lockdown' easing and also how permanent any changes will be. With that in mind - turning your focus and energies to online selling is a smart move.
I want you to think about a few key ways in which you can take learnings from your offline sales. If you are somebody who is good at selling offline - good at selling at events, markets, pop-ups - chances are you're going to be able to replicate that online.
A couple of weeks ago, I ran a free online course called 'How to come back stronger' and a really big theme was 'missed opportunities'. Business owners were talking about how they had really nailed sales offline and they felt that they were missing out on those sales due to 'lockdown'.
I want anybody feeling like that to ask themselves 'why do you believe you've had success selling offline?' How that works when you're selling in store and to think about what is it that makes it effective for you to sell face-to-face. It usually comes down to two things:
Number one - passion
You are able to portray your story, your passion for your product and the thinking behind your business to the customer face-to-face. When somebody approaches your stall or somebody walks into your store, what do you tell them? And you will know, because if you think back you're probably saying this a hundred of times in a day, so think back to that.
When you look at your online presence, whether that's your product descriptions, your website, your 'about' page or your social media - do you talk about those same things?
I've looked at people's websites and there is often very little to read about their 'story' - but when I talk to the business owner, they tell me incredible stories about how they started the business, what the motivation was, how hard they works to get the right product, how the spent time finding brilliant partners to manufacture the product or to purchase from, and yet those stories are not visible on their website or on the social media.
Think about what you say to your customers when you're with them face-to-face and ask yourself, are you saying those things to your customer online?
Also, can your customer see you? Can they see your face? Can they hear your voice? Are you visible? Customers experience that human connection when purchasing face-to-face so you need to replicate it online - include your photo, hone your writing so it sounds like you - show them who the business is.
Number two - touch
Customers being able to pick up and feel a product is key for offline selling. When you think about your product - is it the smell, the touch, the size, the colours? How can you replicate that online?
Include photos that show every angle including the bottom, zoom in on details. Videos are powerful - you can really go into detail and explain the product and the customer experience will be as if they are holding the product themselves.
Are you giving sufficient information in your product listings - weight, size, colours, materials, scents - the list goes on and potential buyers love this detail.
If the product is made from particular materials, ingredients - can you link to another page with more detail on this? Perhaps the manufacturing process and why it's important.
So those are two really important considerations. If you can move to online selling - and I recommend you do during these 'strange' times - think through all the lessons you've learnt through selling offline as you will be able replicate successes online - in fact doing that will be key.
Want to know more about growing your sales? We cover this in so much more detail in the Grow Your Sales course which is available to all Resilient Retail Club members. Find out more about the Club right here.
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