RE: Opening in the COVID-19 Era
Regarding that term “opening” in this current situation, what exactly does it mean? We just saw reports of a 16.4% drop in retail sales and in our categories, reports of an over 60% drop. That is not what I have observed, though I know appliance sales were greatly affected. What did you see?
Of course, these results are based on surveys and not the read of the register tapes and many stores were simply closed completely for business. Now that almost all states have some form of easing to allow business to open at least in some limited fashion, how do you propose to open?
Curbside pickup and BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick-up in Store) are available, but only if you can conduct business over the phone which is not terribly convenient for modern shoppers, or online. Do you have a fully transactional web presence? Does it reflect your available inventory or what you can draw from both vendors and distributors? If not, what are you waiting for?
If you sell direct to the public, how are you getting your message out to them? Are you on Facebook or Instagram or other platforms they may find you and your offer? What new, interesting, helpful, and useful content are you offering to gather their interest and attention? Do you have a content strategy?
What are your sales and support staff doing? Are they offering even better advice and solutions to customers? Have they been reaching out to them by phone, e-mail, tweets, posts? If not, why not? Do you have staff that is fluent in this form of communication and marketing? If not, what are you doing about it?
Perhaps you cannot fully open and utilize your real estate. Have you called your landlord to discuss your rent, your lease and go forward plans? You should. Your landlord is as concerned about continuity as you are and may be prepared to help or to consider and long-term restructure.
Have you applied for the various government programs such as EIDL or PPP? They are not exhausted, so why have you not done so? They are adjusting the rules to offer more flexibility. Do you know and understand them? If not, why not?
Interest rates are at record lows, even without the government program have you spoken to your bank or other sources of capital and cash to run your business? Why not?
If you are going to open your business or open it more then consider what that means today. Consumers and other businesses have been forcefully moved to digital interactions. Many will not come back to the old ways and almost all will continue to use new methods to learn and transact at least in part. If you are not adding or adjusting your offers, you are not open as much as you think.
If you and your people are not fluent in digital methods of sales, operations and marketing there is no time to waste getting there. If your staff is not capable, then train them or get staff that can perform in today's world. There are a lot of them out there.
Time is not on our side, but opportunity is.
We at bluesalve partners are also here to help. If you need advice, or perspective let us know and we are happy to spend some time helping your effort. Give us a call, or click here to schedule a free half hour call to discuss anything affecting your business.
Robert Heiblim has more than 35 years of experience in the consumer electronics field encompassing all phases of general management, including management of new technology start-ups, and high growth companies. Along with his teams Mr. Heiblim has developed, marketed and sold hundreds of millions of devices through most global outlets for consumer technology. Robert is the current Chair of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) Small Business Council as well as ex-officio Chair of the CTA Audio Board.
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