Adapting for the future

Lockdown changed the face of retailing in the UK. Long term effects are yet to become clear but undoubtedly maintaining customer loyalty without an online presence will become harder. So how can you use social media to promote your store and get your business ready to face the future? Sian Anderson picks some examples among health food retailers


Sian Anderson is Digital Communications Director at JFN Productions

The speed at which many independent retailers reacted to the lockdown and adapted how they trade to continue to provide a service was impressive. Some independent health stores went entirely online in a matter of days. Others changed their opening hours to ensure they could still trade safely and even more offered a full delivery service for those in need.

Of course all that effort and change would have been for nothing if retailers didn't also get the message out to their customers. And so they took to social media to do this in a way never seen before.

Many health stores have had some social presence for some time now and many post to some degree, but during lockdown posting rates went through the roof. Those using social media to promote their stores successfully were online in a way not seen before – getting the message out to their customers that they were still there and could still help.

LIVE EXAMPLES

Bawtry Natural Health and Therapy Centre in Doncaster is a shining example of this. They have been using Facebook incredibly well to keep their customers up to date on their opening hours throughout lockdown. They've also shared motivational quotes, useful lockdown information from news sources and best of all, they have offered remote health and wellness advice via their social channels. It's the perfect example of friendly, informed social media that undoubtedly helped boost their sales and customer loyalty during a difficult time.

Down in Somerset, Andrew Williams opened his brand new lifestyle and wellness store, Blossom and Root, back in January. It is small but perfectly formed and so the plan had always been to have an online presence alongside the small physical store. When lockdown hit, the timeframe for this plan got rather shorter and Andrew's entire store went online in a matter of weeks. That meant that shouting about the new online store and delivery methods became even more essential.

May and June have seen Blossom and Root use their social channels to get the message out through consistent content, enticing offer codes and Facebook advertising. They even used clever social content – in the form of a competition to win some bath salts – to attract new potential customers. This one competition alone received over 1000 entries and gave them a great follower boost.

Even when independent health stores didn't have the resources at hand to run to a full online shop, they got around the problem. Healthy Route in Leicester took advantage of a local selling page to put a selection of their products online. At the same time they consistently updated customers on opening hours and made it very clear how they could still shop with them. This communication channel will have been invaluable to their loyal customers.

Taking customer relations to the next level was Peak Health Food Limited in Rugeley who set up a virtual tour of their shop online. This helped to put nervous shoppers at ease and showed customers exactly what it would look like to shop at Peak Health. For those who couldn't get to the store, or didn't feel ready to, they added products to their Facebook shop and offered free local deliveries.

SOCIAL MEDIA KEYS

So how did they manage it and how can you do the same? The key to social media is the three Cs – content, copy and consistency. If you can put out attractively designed content with well-written copy and do that consistently, then you're halfway there. Adding personal tone, sharing details of your day and filming video at your store can take you to the next level.

Once you're there, it's worth considering using Facebook's built-in advertising centre to raise awareness of your store locally and sell products directly online.

Of course all of this is not easy alongside running the store and all that comes with it. Our social team offers affordable packages to independent health stores and can become an invaluable part of your team. We can post on your behalf, design your content and share posts with our existing 35,000 healthy living fans.

Moving forward, offering online services in some form is only going to become more essential and social media channels are the best way to promote these services. As social media specialists we can help. Do get in touch if you need advice or want to find out more.

Sian Anderson is the Digital Communications Director here at Better Retailing Magazine's publisher, JFN Productions. She runs an experienced team of social media professionals who can help to get your social media channels up and running. If you are interested in finding out more then email Sian at smms@jfnproductions.co.uk.

Read more articles from our latest issue...