Part One: How Wireless Brick and Mortar Stores Can Adjust During COVID-19

There have been some major changes in the last few weeks as retailers prepare to protect themselves and their staff against COVID-19. As someone who is feeling that pressure, I know that things may seem confusing and scary right now, but there are many positive opportunities for us to focus on, like these retail resources we created! 

I work with authorized retailers of all shapes and sizes every day on how to best utilize their software, so I thought I’d share some ways your wireless retail business can use this time to get ready for when business returns to normal.

Stay tuned for part two on how you as a wireless retailer can adjust during COVID-19.

Front-office trends, best practices, and thoughts

First, be realistic about the state of your business. Are you able to stay open or are you closed to the public? This will help you plot effective next steps.

Let’s all do our best to maintain retail normalcy when it is anything but. Here are some examples from experts in the field that are utilized today in response to the current environment. 

Appointment-based store visits

Staying open? Appointment-based store visits are thriving and typically are driving better customer relationships, sales, retention, and reoccurring visits. This “appointment only” model will set your customers and employees at (a little) ease by limiting how many people are in the store at one time. This also adds that coveted personal touch with consultative sales. 

Consider curb-side services

How many non-critical businesses are now offering curb side service? Tons! As a critical business, give customers this option to limit risks to exposure or to expedite certain types of transactions.  

Delivery services

Delivery is popping up in many markets to work through store closures and/or to limit retail visits. If you are offering this unique service, make sure your customers are aware and know how to use this new service with effective communication. For example, there are multiple industry examples of businesses closing to the public and the staff operating a customer care center via telephone with delivery services when needed.      

Ramp up e-commerce

Some carriers allow authorized retailers to manage their own sites or use location/dealer specific sites that are managed by corporate. 

As best you can, keep it “business as usual”

This can also work with some tweaks due to the sensitive nature of social distancing. What type of customer triaging is working for you? Do you have a fast track approach for less critical transactions that allow for more time to be spent with the critical ones? Are you monitoring how many people are in your store at one time? Are you actively cleaning prior to helping a new customer? 

Stay top of mind

Are you maximizing your opportunities for Google and other review sites to promote your business? We’d suggest you do! 

Be mindful of inventory constraints

This is something you can’t control and being honest with your customers about this is a good approach. The best field recommendation is to sell what you do have access to, first and foremost. I’ve also seen stronger trends utilizing the following (where applicable). Drop ship or direct fulfillment helps create customer contact wait lists for devices to follow up and focus on the resell market (in-house trade-ins). 

Customer relationship call lists

Check-ups can be meaningful. Most carriers have restrictions regarding calling customers.  Make sure you adhere to these and any other “Do Not Call” type of restrictions you have.  All that said, if you aren’t calling your customers to ask them how there service has been, you are missing opportunities to retain customers, offer solutions for a problem the customer could be having, and potentially uncovering future sales opportunities. This is very much the same thing as writing a thank you note to a new or returning customer for a purchase. 

Specific shopping times for seniors

Carving out certain hours for seniors or other at-risk customers is proving popular with grocery and pharmacy locations now. Let’s take this to the cellular world. This is very similar to the classes some of us held as “how to” trainings for new smart phone users. In my experience this demographic almost always was 50+.  

Loyalty works both ways

What type of loyalty programs do you offer today? Consider updating processes that will support your customer so you can hit the ground running when retail is more normalized.

Get creative and don’t give up!

Let’s be honest: you are on the front lines of wireless retail and likely are championing anything and everything that is going to help you and your teams drive business. Your work is critical to so many consumers and you will weather this storm by doing what you can in the here and now, while also preparing for the future. This may be a scary time but there are many positive opportunities for us to focus on and this must be a top down mindset

In all facets of retail, you likely have restrictions set on your business due to social distancing, corporate carrier directives, and the overall state and federal directives that impacting your ability to have a store open to the public.  What can you do to adhere to these directives, keep you and your staff healthy, and still assist customers?

Keep in touch with your employees regularly. Be honest and kind, yet firm and fair. Maintaining a professional relationship with your staff while also recognizing that in some ways you are now watching out for them at a personal level is important to note. Just like our customers, we are all worried about getting sick, maintaining a job, and paying bills, amongst so many other things. Little things like grocery or food gift cards, stay well kits at stores, and just general conversation on “how are you doing?” goes a long way in my experience.

Sharing is caring

Many ways of making the most of their retail software are being implemented by these retailers and other industry contacts to keep up with the current landscape.

I’d love to hear what you’re doing! Let me know how you’re working through this uncertain time. Sharing what’s working and what’s not working will make us all stronger in the end. At iQmetrix, we see the tireless efforts our clients are making to keep things as normal as possible, and we applaud you!

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