Business Not Quite As Usual—But Business All The Same

Adjusting to the new normal both in-person and online.

Across the country and the globe, businesses of all types are trying to figure out how to keep their lights on during this unprecedented moment—and ultimately getting very creative in the process. We’ve seen independent and corporate retailers across categories utilize ecommerce platforms and social media channels as well as massive sales to continue supporting their employees, engaging consumers and delivering goods and services to their customers. Unsurprisingly, the bedding and mattress industry has similarly pivoted in innovative ways. And, with many states developing and even starting to implement reopening plans and relaxing COVID-19 precautions, there is some hope that the economy may be back up and running soon.

We’ve rounded up a combination of examples of how some companies have shaken things up to continue to sell—in ways that are safe for both RSAs and consumers. And for those companies looking to resume business in-person, we’re also providing an overview of the many resources available now.

Helping Consumers Shop At A Safe Distance

Distanced shopping has already been a big trend in retail. It’s the 21st century after all—we as a society pride ourselves on having the ability to do almost anything, anywhere and anytime through all our technological tools. Purchasing goods is no different. And right now, most people couldn’t be more grateful to have the ability to stay plugged in; it’s what has kept the economy hanging on, even if only by a thread. Quite a few companies are using every last tool they have at their disposal to stay connected with their customers.

Interestingly, the very nature of some of these techniques are bringing about a rise in what is called “clienteling.” In this PYMNTS article, the author talks about how virtual one-on-one appointments offer a window to assign retail sales associates to high-value customers—albeit online.

“Clienteling has been around for several years as a way to empower sales associates with customer data and mobile customer engagement technology. For example, by having a customer profile a store associate can engage with customers based on past purchases, preferences and interests. All the data locked in a CRM/POS system is made available to the store associate so that recommendations and interactions are informed by data.” Clienteling apps help support this technique.

Beyond this more nuanced approach, many companies are simply offering online consultations and working hard to promote the availability of this option. The existing prevalence of virtual chat features and the consumer comfort with Facetiming and other forms of video chatting makes this a simple transition for most.

Jerome’s recently shared an example of how the company’s RSA’s are working with customers to hold personalized consultations over FaceTime. And quite honestly, it looks really fun. Of course, Jerome’s isn't alone either. Many stores are also doing this in different forms and using different tools. PERQ marketing rolled out a virtual consultation scheduler very early on to support retailers looking to offer virtual tours. Sweet Dreams also offers virtual tours—but instead of having a FaceTime host, the brand worked with Nationwide Marketing Group to launch interactive 3-D models of its showrooms with carefully labeled products on its website. While many companies are employing high-tech apps and other digital tools to optimize their sites for ecommerce and facilitate meetings, some are also going the old fashion route with phone-based options. It likely pays to have a blend of both enabling your company to access a variety of age demographics with varying levels of comfort—you have to meet your customers where they are!

Each of these avenues to safe consultations and clear communication offer a vital opportunity to stay afloat—and, in some cases, create an even larger opportunity to gain loyal customers. Being there for customers and providing a memorable experience during a tough time is a chance to not only cheer someone up, but to make a long lasting positive impression. Additionally, many consumers are likely to put trust in companies that navigate this crisis in a balanced way—maintaining caution, delivering convenience and treating employees fairly despite the circumstances. For many businesses, the pandemic has shed light on the brand’s true colors, for better or for worse. Those that stick to their guns and honor their employees, customers and values as best they can should reap some rewards.

Resources To Help Safely Serve Customers In Person

The National Retail Foundation

The NRF generally offers a wealth of useful knowledge for retailers. And, during a crisis, the Foundation is no different. Presently, the NRF website hosts a variety of guidelines and a resource round-up for stores looking to reopen. One of the most helpful offerings among these tools is the Operation Open Doors Checklist.

Retail TouchPoints Virtual Forum

Providing thought leadership from top analysts, consultants, influencers, retail executives and solution providers, Retail Reset, an online experience from Retail Touch Points, is available free of charge to all members of the retail community. Including a mix of webcasts, videos, podcasts and editorial content, the digital program seeks to empower visitors to consume content in formats that are most relevant to their needs as they seek guidance on how to safely reopen.

Nationwide Marketing Group

Not only does Nationwide Marketing Group typically offer its members numerous benefits, including access to a curated selection of vendor partners, but the organization has stepped up to offer free COVID-19 resources, including insights on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). And for members, NMG is offering exclusive access to the ORourke Retail PPE Program, a partnership that allows members to purchase PPE products through a single, easy, not-for-profit program—helping to protect their customers, store associates and delivery and install crews as stores begin to reopen.

Precision Textiles

More specific to the bedding and mattress industry is Precision Textiles, which is offering a highly practical solution that will facilitate comfortable and clean rest tests moving forward. Understanding that as stores reopen, bedding and mattress retailers will need to reimagine the consumer shopping experience with an awareness of COVID-19 fears and healthy precautions top of mind, Precision Textiles designed and developed individually packaged hygienic mattress testing kits for use in retail stores.

These are only a few of many companies and organizations working hard to provide retailers with support as they gear up to reopen or continue to find creative ways to support their customers from afar and maintain business operations at a safe distance.

Visit Sleepretailer.com for a variety of COVID-19 updates from across the industry.


This story was originally featured in eNews. Click here to get Sleep Retailer eNews delivered straight to your inbox.