Retailers Special Issue

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How are you?

There are so many questions facing business owners and I thought you might find it interesting to hear how I've adapted (so far) to business in the age of corona.

Is it helpful to know that whenever I discuss work ideas in real life, just as soon as I start feeling positive, I usually find myself looping back to 'but... coronavirus'?

I really want to know how YOU are getting through this. Will you reply to this email and tell me? I'm happy to answer your questions too.

How to keep trading?

This is very closely linked to whether you can run your business while keeping your staff and your customers stay safe. 

As a limited company - with no direct employees - I've not faced furlough issues. That's not to say things are easy though, after all, as a director of a business that operates from my home, I'm not able to claim any self-employed grants or business rate relief.

Since many bricks and mortar retailers have had to close, I've had to shift my focus from wholesale to online retail sales. My side hustle, is now my main income stream.

A big positive is that I already had an e-commerce site in place. I can manage it directly and that's keeping my design/site management costs down to a minimum. 

How do you find customers in a lockdown?

My original plan for 2020 included meeting buyers at conferences and exhibitions. I had you retailers in my sights, you know?

Clearly, I had to rewrite that marketing plan. These days my strategy is focused on achieving as many direct sales as possible. You'll see me on Instagram and Facebook making sure customers can find me there. It's a great way to see what customers are thinking and feeling too.

I've found it really helpful to remember that many of the things that worked for me pre-pandemic are still present in my brand during these lockdown months. Communicating these values and interests gives me plenty of common ground with my customers:
  • Strong design.
  • Robust quality.
  • Affordable prices.
  • Unashamed love of pink, fashion, art, fitness, food...
  • Prompt, positive customer care.
I also took the advice of the clever people at Mailchimp and I increased my email contact with clients. Apparently, in a lockdown, people like hearing from their favourite businesses and they finally have time to read their emails.

If you haven't already put your email list to work...
  • Be genuine. People really can tell.
  • Make it worthwhile - give discounts and include interesting content to customers on board.
  • Stay on top of the detail - keep websites, links and prices in working order.

What works for me?

Staying in touch.

It takes time. It distracts me from getting things done. And yet it works for me. My friends and family help me feel connected with my best self.

Working with great people

I don't have employees, but I do have a crack team of freelancers who help me get things done - I can't be an expert in everything, I need help! These people are funny, creative and find ways to get things done on a tight budget. I love them.

Testing out new ideas.

In the past month, we made and launched an ESA EVANS App on Google Play. It's not perfect - I'd like more flexibility on the front page - but we did work fast and made sure to test it out before launching. We pulled together a friendly team of Beta testers who are also customers. They had some excellent insights for us and we've acted on as much of the feedback as possible. Now it's a new channel for customers who use shopping apps - and I like that.

If you've got questions about the App solution we chose, please get in touch.

Making it personal.

I include handwritten postcards with gift wrapped jewellery deliveries. People have such amazing things to say to their friends and loved ones. It's inspiring. Then there are customers who have wonderful things to say about my jewellery, customer service, social posts and newsletters. It's really lovely and makes it all feel worthwhile.  

Keeping on.

Synchronicity is a thing. A collection I designed pre-lockdown - turns out to be perfect for a lockdown that's full of digital communication and duvet days. The sums don't add up in the way they used to, but they added up enough to make it possible to launch the new collection. It's a good feeling to know that Flights of Fancy has landed and is ready to buy.

Watermelon Sugar

When you are changing plans, or putting new plans into action, give yourself a soundtrack that feels fabulous. Tune yourself into feeling good.

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