How small local shops can survive the Covid crisis and stay ahead of their competition

Small independent shops have been plunged into crisis due to the Coronavirus this year. Next to an economically tense situation customers and consumers have lost the pleasure of going shopping due to fear of infection. Customers are staying at home, order goods online and the big online giants are often the winners in this crisis which is causing great concern to independent retailers and to local communities.

So how can a small local shop survive this crisis and remain successful in the future?

The answer is that the traditional retailer needs to rethink their current concept and change into a hybrid retailer - working online as well as in retail.

A first class example of such a hybrid local shop is my favourite shop in London

Sheen Uncovered is a local shop in Sheen, South West London who sells stunning lingerie and lovely clothes as well. They have been a hybrid shop way before the pandemic which enabled them to continue trading even through the very long lockdown period.

So what does the hybrid business model of Sheen Uncovered look like?

Jackie Upton - Sheen Uncovered

Jackie Upton - Sheen Uncovered

  • The owner is very engaged in the local community and has a strong network

  • The owner has built a strong bond with customers and has built a database of clients

  • All products are regularly promoted via newsletters to clients in the database

  • Photos and videos of products and people are regularly promoted via social media such as facebook and Instagram

  • The business is the French range Empreinte's UK brand ambassador

  • The business has adopted a new click and collect service and a new local doorstep delivery service

  • Personal appointments are now available for ladies including lingerie, bridal fitting, maternity fitting, post-surgical fitting or mastectomy fitting

Most importantly, Sheen Uncovered has an up to date website with a comprehensive online shop which sells the same products as in the shop. This way we can all continue to remain loyal clients as I can buy Jackie’s beautiful products online.

Here are my top tips how small local shops can survive the crisis:

Start an online shop

  • Consider a website with online shop functionality.

  • Website builders such as Squarespace offers excellent and cost effective solutions.

  • With an online shop you can continue trading 24/7 even during a lockdown.

Start a customer loyalty scheme

  • Think of incentives for your customers, such as special offers or loyalty cards and invite them to register on your database. This way you can send out regular emails promoting new products and stay in touch with your customers.

Gift vouchers

  • Next to your usual products you could offer to sell gift vouchers which could be redeemed either in your shop or when buying online.

Social Media

  • Connect with your customers via social media like facebook and Instagram and regularly share product photos, videos and special offers. This way you can not only stay in touch with your existing customers, but also connect with new customers and grow your network and fan base.

Local Networking

  • Get involved in your local community and your neighbourhood. And join a local business networking group, most such as The Athena Network, are operating via Zoom. There is nothing better than word of mouth recommendations in business!

More and more customers are buying online and this trend has been accelerated by the pandemic. It is expected that customers who are buying online now are most likely not to return to buying in local shops when this crisis is over. Therefore if you react quickly and set up an online shop next to your local shop, you will be able to secure your business for the future.

I am here to help with the set up of your online shop. Just get in touch for a free consultation via Zoom.

Click here to read more about Sheen Uncovered.