The holidays are here, as difficult as that may be to believe. For those of us with retail or service businesses, we know without a doubt that this Christmas season will be far different. You may be wondering how you can make the most of this busy shopping period. Our Morley commercial agents, Chris Sands and Kayleigh Dickson, put together some thoughts on how you can best reach your potential clients and customers.
As we've seen throughout the year, our circumstances are constantly changing. Flexibility has proven to be key. Being prepared to make adjustments to your operations can only help now. Make sure you have all the necessary ingredients to maximize your sales potential this holiday season. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Start with your floor plan and work from there. Reconfigure your store space where possible. Widen the aisles and remove anything that may potentially take up space unnecessarily. Ensure there is enough space around the cashier's counter. Create marked social distancing points for your clients and customers standing in line. Where possible, aim for contactless payment options.
Signed, Sealed, Delivered
Signage for safety measures throughout your store space is crucial. Let your customers know upfront what they can expect when they shop in-store with you. Ensure that guidelines and procedures are clearly outlined.
"You want to make your customers feel as comfortable as possible during their shopping experience," note Chris and Kayleigh. "Encourage your sales staff to be vigilant about your store's safety measures. But also ensure they're creating a welcoming and helpful environment. Customer empathy is key."
The Bahamas Federation of Retailers released this Sunday a comprehensive list of suggested health and safety protocols. You can view these here.
This Sunday brought incredibly welcome news for us all – retail business owners, employees and patrons alike! We can't wait to get back to in-store shopping! As you open your doors to your customers again, take another look at your in-store operations plan. Does it need to be adjusted at all? Run a thorough review of your procedures ahead of the Christmas rush, so that you're ready if things change. Do you have a plan in place for outdoor seating or shade in anticipation of potential long lines? Do you offer curbside service by appointment? Reduce customer frustration by ensuring your operations are able to run as smoothly as possible. "If a customer is leaving their home and coming to your business in a mask, they are likely motivated to buy. Make sure you have a 'free and clear' operation with no hold ups during this purchasing cycle."
Another key consideration? While many of us are chomping at the bit to get back to in-store shopping, there are still some who are not quite comfortable with this yet, and who, despite things opening back up, may still prefer to avoid the crowds. How can they support their local retailers and community? How can they support you?
Take a look at this great incentive offered by John Bull. Now open for in-store shopping, they are continuing to promote their Curbside Service for their clients who are more comfortable with this approach. Their service is inviting, their instructions are clear, and their efforts are undoubtedly appreciated!
Check in with your staff and your customers and adjust where necessary. Knowledge is power, as they say!
Find New Opportunities and Brush Up on the Old
For retailers and service providers, these last two months of the year are often the busiest. Take the extra steps now, if you can, to find new opportunities for growth and ways to reach your customers. Don't wait for them to come to you. Consider new incentives. How can you make purchasing your products easier for your customers? Today's buying habits focus mainly on convenience and instant gratification. The easier and faster you can make a purchase for a potential buyer, the better. Make sure you have the fundamentals down, and stay open to new opportunities:
A website is a great sales tool, but it's not the only one available. There are still tools you can use to reach your potential client base. The easiest and most immediate way to do this is through social media.
Make sure you have a Facebook page and an Instagram account, at the very least. YouTube and Vimeo are also great options for video sharing. Use these tools to share your products and to let your followers know why they need to have your products. Think about the what, how, why, when and where. Be sure to communicate these points when promoting your goods and services. Photographs and video are key.
Many business owners are also utilizing live video as a way to reach their client base. One such company is Biggity Candles. Over the last several weeks, they've used the lockdown weekends productively. Through live video sessions, they've shared information about new holiday products and promotions.
When you want to really make the most of these tools, use them together. Use your social media to drive your traffic to your website. Add pricing to your products on your site, if you can. This way, you have the potential to generate sales seven days a week, 24 hours a day. CBS Bahamas has done an incredible job with maintaining an online presence throughout this pandemic. Their social media is strong, and they were able to maximize their sales potential by incorporating an online sales platform with their website. In a recent social media post, they listed the various ways their shoppers can make purchases:
"We agree. #Curbside is no fun. But, we're making retail easy thanks to the #Bahamas' largest online catalog. With guaranteed 2hr (or less) in-store pickup, $5 island-wide delivery, and 24/7 live agent chat; COVID-19 shopping has never been easier. Check us out today; our online store is #alwaysopen."
Another way to reach your customers? Email. Create attractive email flyers to send out to your clients and customers. Let them know ahead of time about new products and promotions you have slated for the holidays, as well as any changes to your operations. Keeping your customers informed is a must, and with so many different programs available, there's no reason you can't incorporate this into your marketing. Check out MailChimp, iContact or Constant Contact for a few options. They each offer pre-designed templates, taking the hard work out of the equation.
Consider using WhatsApp as a way to share information about your products as well. Check in with your regular clients and ask them if they'd like to be added to your messaging group. This is an easy, fast and effective way to share information with them. Whether it's a change in your store hours, or even a special holiday menu you're wanting to share!
Another option? Virtual Shopping appointments. Paper Clutch Giftsdoes a great job with this. They offer (and advertise) their virtual shopping appointments on social media. Incorporating tools like these lets people 'browse' your store without leaving their homes. They'll have the help of a personal shopper who can show them the products and offer great advice. It's a special touch that will leave a lasting impression. John Bull offers the service of a Personal Shopper and invites their customers to Whatsapp them for access!
It's not enough to speak to your customers. You need to be open to speaking with them. Be sure you respond to all online inquiries as quickly as possible. This will go a long way in building trust with your clients. Messaging on Facebook. DM on Instagram. Emails. Messaging apps through your website. WhatsApp. Find as many ways as possible to stay in touch.
Go the extra mile, if you can. Meet your customers where they are instead of waiting for them to come to you, and consider delivery. While this may not be an option for all retailers, for most it is. If you can't offer your own in-house delivery, find someone who can. A simple online search will give you a host of options to consider reaching out to.
Kraven offers everything from casual to fine dining, alcohol, grocery, pharmacy, and retail deliveries. Bahama Eats does as well. Mutru is another option. They partner with major local retailers to deliver goods to their consumers. Whatsmore, with support like this, you're not just adding another service to offer to your clients. You're gaining exposure and marketing support as a vendor of these programs. Lowe's Pharmacy recently added this service for their client base. Any customer can have their products delivered to their door using either the Kraven or Bahama Eats apps!
Put your business in front of your 'target market' at a low cost. Target customers through digital marketing, social media, online advertising, and Google SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Be sure to consider all available online options to maximize your reach!
A Helping Hand
These days, we could all use a hand. As a business owner, you know. Every bit helps. While you're working on making the most of potential profits for your own business this holiday season, don't forget to support those around you. Find ways to share the love – partner, collaborate, refer, encourage and support small businesses wherever you can. A little time, care and consideration goes a long way. It's the holidays, after all. A time for giving.
If you're a retailer and you're looking for online local resources and communities that you can follow and join, here are some great options to get you started:
It's true when they say they're more than a group of businesses working together. They're family. A family that has grown together, that encourages one another and supports each other. That's the Tin Ferlcommunity. With their Pop-Up Park at the Dundas Center for Performing Arts grounds on Mackey Street, this family of like-minded small business owners has banded together to provide us with a creative twist to traditional dining! Featuring approximately 15 different food and beverage vendors on any given day, lunch becomes a true experience of culinary genius here! With everything from juicy burgers to seafood tacos, pasta dishes, curries, jerk chicken, stuffed buns, guava duff and fresh-made teas, juices and coffees, there's no limit to the fun you can have out here at the park! With the recent update to our COVID-19 Regulations, now we can stay awhile and dine outdoors in the park as well!
Officially opening the gates to the Pop Up Park at the Dundas Center for Performing Arts in March of this year, Tin Ferl was founded in June 2019. Three friends – Kendrick Delaney, founder of The New Duff, Brandon Kemp, founder of the Nassau Night Market, and Alicia "Puppy" Robinson Treco, founder of Pup Star Entertainment – came together to discuss some of the issues facing the pop-up community. They decided to start a collaborative that would "advocate for the pop-up community, be a centre for information and networking, and provide the community with opportunities to develop their businesses and sell their products," according to a recent online article by BahamasLocal. "We want this to be the home for Pop-Up vendors, where they can work full-time at building their businesses because they have an affordable, ideal location from which to build a strong following. We are very grateful to our sponsors, Aliv and Sign Island, for their support in helping make the Pop-Up Park a reality."
The result of their creation? An organization that provides training and education, business and marketing assistance to their vendors. Starting with a free consultation, Tin Ferl offers their vendors far more than just a place to set up shop. They are committed to helping their members grow their business models – offering everything from booth support (concessions including ice and gas deliveries, electricity to their booths, etc) to photography, advertising and marketing, social media management, and overall brand development.
Of their business concept, Brandon says "the Tin Ferl community is actually composed of 80 different participants, which expands beyond food and beverage, into arts, crafts and other Bahamian-made goods. Our Pop Up Park includes 30 vendors overall. Our members are home-based business owners. Our model works because we all work together to support each other and we've created a community. We operate under the motto 'Together we are stronger. United we'll succeed'. Our name Tin Ferl – (Bahamian for Tin Foil) – is what we are all about. A single piece of foil is easy to tear. But when you layer foil, stacking one piece on top of another on top of another, it becomes very strong. Tin Ferl is dedicated to uniting and supporting small businesses and to providing the pop-up community with affordable, stable, and rewarding locations to sell their products."
The Tin Ferl group welcomes vendors looking for a stable base in which to grow. They've designed an easy and straightforward registration process, which outlines vendor requirements, their weekly schedule, their procedures and guidelines, COVID-19 safety measures and available supporting services. They also offer several packages for those vendors interested in increasing their online presence and exposure in a professional, polished and affordable way.
As for us patrons, we can only tell you wonderful things await as you enter those Dundas gates. We're not sure whether it's the delicious aromas that draw the crowds (all with social distancing measures, mind you!), the tempting photos, the recommendations of others, or previous experiences that keeps the park busy, but if you haven't checked out the Tin Ferl Pop-Up Park and the many delectable delights, you're definitely missing out!
Here are a few of the vendors you can expect to find there:
Black Pearl Bubble Tea, The New Duff, Tipsea, Junior's Jerk, Cabana Club, Natural Scrubs, Fancy Jonsa, Vell Monkey Foot, FoodPlay Cafe, Gim Sum, TK Grill Yo, Simply Good Hotdogs, Sky Juice King, Happy Hour Java, Tropical Smoothies, TZ's Bay View, Island Pops, Chops Conch Fritters, Island Sushi, Saige, First Choice Grill, Natalie's Caribbean Cuisine, Blue Flamingo Cafe and Bell's Takeaway, among others.
As of this past weekend, the Pop Up Park is open on Saturdays as well as Monday – Friday!
As the holidays draw closer, we're told we can also expect to see some (socially-distanced and COVID friendly) Junkanoo entertainment to add a bit of festive cheer!
We've heard it before, but it warrants saying again - it's been a year. Are we right? If ever there was a time when life seemed turned upside down, turned around, and something closer to the lyrics of a Bahamian song, it would be 2020. And yet, with so many unknowns, so many changes, there are some silver linings we can take with us. One of these is the spirit of Bahamian entrepreneurship and innovation.With COVID-19 restrictions in place, local businesses were hit hard. Both the health and economic impacts have been felt not just here, but around the world. Traditional business practices changed, with many companies finding new ways to adapt to meet the needs of their customers.
New opportunities were created as well. Almost overnight, Bahamian entrepreneurs stepped up to the plate. They created avenues to support local businesses. The traditional delivery concept morphed. Companies answered the call for services like grocery delivery, or wines and spirits. Retail items, pharmaceutical supplies, household goods - you name it!
An extra bonus for the business owners using these services? Exposure via a third-party marketing initiative. The delivery companies focus on promoting their services, of course. But they also promote and advertise the vendors that they work with - it's a win-win all around!
Our retailers, service providers and restaurants are now open. Yet, we have a feeling the demand for delivery is here to stay. Some of us are happy to get out and visit our favorite shops on our own. But there are also some who feel more comfortable avoiding the crowds and prefer to stay at home.
Here are some companies leading the charge for delivery services across the island:
With Kraven, ordering your take-out, beverages, groceries, pharmacy items, merchandise and more, is a breeze. Download the app on your phone and sign up for an account. For customers, there's no charge to sign-up, and you'll know your costs up front when it comes to delivery. The service provided by Kraven is efficient, professional and easy. The company is responsive and a pleasure to use!
Mutru is revolutionizing how online and in store customers get their goods. "We partner with freight forwarders and major retailers to bring your purchases to you at home, at work, or anywhere you need it. We also provide a new delivery solution to power same day delivery for retailers and businesses. Whether you want to integrate Mutru into your eCommerce site or simply book a local delivery today, we've got you covered. Mutru gives customers more - a lot more – Choice and Convenience," they say. Partnering with retailers including CBS Bahamas, WHIM Automotive, Missari International, Sugar Mama's and more, the company proudly provides services to large enterprises and small businesses alike. With Mutru's EcoPack Fulfillment service, retailers can meet the needs and demands of their local clients. Mutru will receive, package and deliver your goods directly to your clients for a flat rate of $5.00!
They also offer direct shipping from The Bahamas to the United States! Great news for Bahamian businesses and entrepreneurs trying to expand their reach. Locally-made goods can now be offered to an American market in an easier way!
Their latest achievement? A Messenger Service. Now you can have your documents and small packages delivered across the island. Payment options are either a pay-as-you-go or monthly subscription rate.
Mutru's latest results show that their retailers have:
- saved $30,000 and 37 hours
- had 3,000 packages delivered
- served 872 unique customers
As the holiday shopping season ramps up, there is a strong push for supporting local businesses. The Bahamas Federation of Retailers this week launched a ShopLocal Bahamas campaign. They stress the value and reach of local purchasing for our Bahamian economy and workforce. We agree, and we know we can do this. Through innovation and by working together. Utilizing supporting services, our retailers can maximize efforts to meet their customers' demands.