The COVID-19 crisis is unlike anything we have seen in the past. For many retailers, this has meant closing their (physical) doors and shifting their sales strategies seemingly overnight. For others, it’s created an unexpected pause to business as they have previously known it and encouraged getting creative when it comes to connecting with customers. And yet for some merchants, business has maintained a fairly normal pace despite the disruption of COVID-19.
One thing that connects each of these retailers, however, is that consumers still NEED and WANT to connect with you. In fact, more so than ever retail presents an opportunity to engage, educate and even entertain consumers as they are forced to shift their old shopping patterns and begin to enjoy new ones.
To help your unique business achieve stronger retail success amidst the COVID-19 crisis, Retail Minded has gathered some of the industry’s brightest to lean on in our COVID-19 Resource Guide. From shipping to social media to general consultation to e-commerce to lending to payments to point of sale and more, explore a variety of services that are Retail Minded Approved for you to move forward in business despite the coronavirus.
The Complete Boutique
Janine Mix is a retail consultant and strategist with over 20 years of hands-on experience in virtually every role in the retail space, from cashier to nationwide corporate trainer. Recognizing the immediate needs retailers have in response to COVID-19, Mix has created a Retail Survival Guide which offers an action plan to navigate the uncertainty and prepare to return to your store stronger than before. This 30-Day plan included daily prompts for continuing to market and communicate with your customers, 30 done-for-you retail specific social media captions to engage with your customers while they are scrolling more than ever, and a list of financial resources to help you in this time of need. For more information, explore http://www.retailsurvivalguide.com/.
The Retail Doctor
What to do now that the coronavirus is upending retail as we have known it? Bob Phibbs, the Retail Doctor, has come up with 8 lessons anyone can use to do brick and mortar retail during the coronavirus pandemic. Assuming you may either be open (with social distancing) or be closed to browsing but still open, these bite-size lessons will help your marketing to stay in front of your customers, your training for when things get back to normal, and even cleaning and hygiene of associates. Even if you are closed, there is much you can learn. You can watch them all at once, in the order we’ve selected, or pick and choose. The best part? This is entirely free! Over the course of eight brand new lessons you’ll learn How To Shift Gears To A New Way To Retail, The Connection Between Hygiene & Customer Trust, How To Build Rapport With Shoppers Even While Apart and much, much more. Simply fill out the form with valid email and they will email you all the details.
Streamline Retail Services
If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that we always have to be ready to reach out customers where they are. During the crisis, it might mean bringing in enough money to keep the lights on but in the long-run, most retailers are working to build a strategy to no longer depend on one sales channel but reach their customers through multiple outlets. Streamline Retail helps brick and mortar retailers not just launch their online sales channels (although we definitely do that), we help capture what makes their in-store experience unique and translate that online, help create a plan to drive people to their site, and keep them coming back. Now, more than ever, we’re seeing that retailers that can adapt quickly will come out of this stronger than ever.
BigCommerce empowers businesses to turn digital transformation into a competitive advantage by providing a software-as-a-service ecommerce platform that simplifies the creation of beautiful and engaging online stores. To help merchants experiencing unexpected hardships related to COVID-19, BigCommerce is offering 3 months free for all new Standard, Plus or Pro plans. As always, merchants will have 24/7 access to BigCommerce experts and resources through our support team, community forum, video tutorials and help center. Learn more at: https://www.bigcommerce.com/covid19/
During times of uncertainty and social distancing, the best thing retailers can do is turn to e-commerce to help lighten the blow and continue offering their products and services to customers. Designed to turn browsers into shoppers, Lightspeed eCom gives you everything you need to sell online. Easily manage inventory, access sales reports and create marketing campaigns all in one place. Because it’s a fully integrated eCom platform, you can sync your inventory across channels to sell your stock online and in-store with ease. Lightspeed is supporting independent businesses in their time of need by offering free eCom and Omni Loyalty and sharing useful blogs, tools and resources to help keep businesses safe, informed and productive through the current COVID-19 crisis. Check out Lightspeed’s COVID-19 resource page for more information.
Faire has created a financial calculator to help small business owners navigate these uncertain times as COVID-19 forces many to temporarily shutter. How it works is simple, beginning with you adding your financial details. This includes your cash on hand, average monthly revenue, and average monthly costs before the coronavirus outbreak. Next, you will enter any changes to your revenue and costs that have occurred since the disruption. Finally, this impact calculator will generate a financial status for your business, and offer recommended actions you can take to help your business make it through this crisis. For more details, click HERE.
GiftNow by Loop Commerce not only allows your customers to send products digitally via your eCommerce site without knowing variables like size, color, shipping address, etc. but it also decouples delivery from shipping removing some stress from your supply chain. Recipients enter the information (size, color, address) and either accept the product or exchange for a credit and continue shopping your site for the item they want. Delivery options include text, messenger, email, or print out. For more information, visit https://www.loopcommerce.com/solutions/#e-gifting.
Kabbage, Inc. has recently launched www.helpsmallbusiness.com to support small businesses financially impacted by COVID-19. The initiative is a call-to-action across the U.S., enabling anyone to purchase an online gift certificate from participating small businesses to provide them with crucial financial support. Certificates can be redeemed in full after they’re issued or in the future when the crisis has subsided. As a small business owner yourself, it takes just minutes to sign up and be a part of this resource. U.S. small businesses can sign up for free on www.helpsmallbusiness.com to immediately seek financial support through gift certificate purchases from individuals throughout the U.S. Kabbage will also provide businesses a unique URL to easily share their personalized page with customers via text, email, web, social media or print. Consumers can purchase multiple certificates for any amount between $15 and $500. Once certificates are purchased, small businesses will get an immediate notification and can use free technology offered by Kabbage to scan, verify, track and fulfill gift certificates when redeemed.
Your store may be closed but you can still “Play Offense with your Cash”. This checklist from RETAILMavens is designed to help you maximize your cash flow and sales during the COVID-19 crisis. Led by industry thought leader and former retailer Cathy Donovan Wagner who – along with her team – helps to create more cash flow for retailers while also helping them to continuously see more profit, this is offered for FREE to help merchants become “Richer Retailers”.
LENDING / LOANS
Small Business Administration
The Small Business Administration offers an Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program that is intended to help small business owners who are experiencing financial strain as a direct result to disaster. More specifically, the program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to help overcome temporary loss of revenue. While not all fifty states are approved for this specific program, small business owners in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginiaare eligible to apply for a low-interest loan due to Covid-19.Discover more at www.sba.com.
Lending Valley provides a variety of funding products to small and mid-sized businesses and that includes retailers. Although COVID-19 has caused a massive crisis here in the USA, we have continued funding and taken an initiative to help every business that is suffering right now. We know retail businesses have been hit quite hard but we are here for anyone who needs some working capital to get through the next few months. Whatever your unique challenges are, let us know. We are truly here to help!
As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, brick-and-mortar retailers are closing their physical doors, and economic data1 shows that half have only enough cash to survive for 27 days without new money coming in. In light of this situation, people everywhere are searching for ways to support the businesses in their community and beyond. In response, eBay is launching “Up & Running,” an accelerator program specifically designed to help retailers without an e-commerce presence transition to selling online, pledging up to $100 million in support for small businesses across North America. Through the program, eBay will give new businesses a free basic eBay store for three months – offering access to the marketplace’s 180+ million buyers around the world. With the new online storefront, eBay will waive selling fees2 for these new businesses, and allow them to sell up to 500 items for free. New eBay sellers will also receive the guidance and resources they need to run their business on eBay – including a suite of exclusive marketing and merchandising tools, customization features to build a brand, discounted shipping supplies and more.
While this isn’t necessarily the luxury of “found time” or even window shopping, these next several weeks are opportunities to take a step back and assess one’s storefront, floorplan and branding congruence. Is your online branding aligned with your brick and mortar? Are your social media and website sharing the same message about your merchandise and services? When you DO return to normal operations, are there any changes and/or enhancements that will greet your customers? How about a few minutes to think through a “We’re Back!” window? Rethinking floorplans, fixture layouts, signage and display strategies are available as remote services. Explore how to elevate your merchandising at www.windowsmatter.com.
Consumers are having to adjust their social habits unlike they’ve ever had to before and with that becomes a shift in their shopping preferences. No longer do they have the freedom to casually stroll through stores and explore products in person but instead, they are turning to online to explore inventory and ultimately entertain themselves, as well. But let’s face it… many are hesitate to spend despite their desire to buy. That’s where Klarna can come in now and post COVID-19, as well. Once integrated into your store, customers can buy now then pay later in 4 easy installments. The best part? There is no interest. For real! Discover more at www.klarna.com.
PROTECTIVE WINDOW / COUNTER SHIELDS
Gripple Protective Shield Solution
As our government has introduced measures to protect the public from COVID-19, many retailers are taking additional precautions to protect employees and customers by installing suspended protective shields in stores. These are installed at check-out locations and offer a transparent screen between the cashier and the customer. The shield comes ready-to-hang, is easy to suspend, and no tools are needed.
Now more than ever small businesses are looking for ways to save money, and we can help. With Refund Retriever, you can make all your shipping expenses as lean as possible by reducing your current FedEx or UPS costs. Any domestic or express package (even ground) delivered even 60 seconds late entitles you to a full refund… among other ways to save! Refund Retriever has been providing businesses with complete logistics visibility and savings through FedEx and UPS invoice auditing, reports and analytics, and contract negotiations since 2006. Through Refund Retriever’s sophisticated technology, shippers gain real-time insight when money is owed to their accounts – as well as clarity to their entire shipping spend. Whether you’re introducing shipping to your business for the first time or already have shipping incorporated into your sales strategy, this is an opportunity you can’t ignore. The best part? It costs you nothing! We only get paid if you receive a refund. Too good to be true or the good news you’ve finally been waiting to hear? Learn more at www.refundretriever.com.
ShipStation’smulti-channel, multi-carrier platform offers the most integrations of any e-commerce solution, with more than 300 partnerships with leading shopping carts, marketplaces, carriers, and fulfillment services, including FedEx, USPS, UPS, Amazon, Shopify, and BigCommerce. And for a limited time, this is offered for FREE due to the CORID-19 crisis. By welcoming ShipStation into your store strategy, online sellers can easily pull orders from anywhere and save significant money on shipping. Additionally, users can take advantage of branded tracking so their customers stay up-to-date on the status of every delivery, as we know there’s a lot of uncertainty in this area during this time. Explore more at www.shipstation.com.
Crystal Media – led by industry social media leader Crystal Vilkaitis – understands that marketing a store can be overwhelming. It’s hard to know where to start, what to do next, and there’s fear that your marketing efforts won’t pay off. But we also know that marketing a store can be easy, effective and fun – especially when you introduce a strong social media strategy to support your business. To help retailer’s achieve this, Crystal Media is giving a digital version of their 12-month social media planner away for FREE. This planner helps merchants plan and track their social media plus offers video training. Whether you are new to social media or want to strengthen your efforts, this is a not to miss FREE experience. For more information, click here: https://www.crystalmediaco.com/social-media-planner-digital/.