Customer Loyalty During COVID-19 is Critical to Local Business Survival
Small businesses are the backbone of our society, making up 44 percent of the U.S. economy and employing almost half of the private workforce. However, COVID-19 has changed the way people spend, forcing many of these local economy engines to pivot their business strategies, enter the digital realm and get creative to stay afloat.
According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 55 percent of small businesses believe it will take six months to a year before the U.S. business climate returns to normal. However, it isn’t all doom and gloom. Consumers want their local businesses to succeed. A recent survey of over 550 American consumers, conducted by ZypTV, indicates that people are eager to contribute to their communities and do their part to keep these vital product and service providers open for business.
According to the survey, consumers who spend more than 50 percent at local businesses have remained consistent in their spending habits while stuck at home during the global pandemic, and those who purchased less than 25 percent at nearby stores have increased spending at those locations by 15 percent.
How to Gain Consumer Confidence
While consumers who remain faithful continue their regular habits, there are still plenty of patrons that need to be convinced. As consumers and businesses navigate re-entry, there are several things to consider in order to succeed in the new retail climate:
- Take care of customers ... from a distance. In these unique times of living six-feet apart, consumers feel safer having the opportunity to shop with merchants offering curbside pickup or free, contactless delivery as an option at checkout. Adapting to meet the needs and comfort levels of those who keep coming back will go a long way.
- Build and enhance online outreach. People are staying home and living through a screen most of the time now. Mobile and online usage has shot up in the last few months, with social media activity flourishing. When asked how they typically learn about the businesses in their community, consumers indicated that social media presence and awareness goes a long way, resonating with 66 percent of consumers. Businesses need to put forth more effort into their online presence and broaden outreach to connect and engage with customers.
- OTT is the present and future. Businesses of all sizes have adopted over-the-top (OTT) advertising, and with good reason. Ad-supported streaming TV continues to explode. By reaching this audience of cord-cutters, small businesses have the opportunity to draw in a more specific shopper by being in the right place at the right time.
- Give back and support the community. People are more likely to spend their money at places that pay it forward and contribute to a cause they believe in. This is why brands like Warby Parker and Bombas have been so successful. By donating resources to nonprofits and charities that aim to help people struggling from the impact of COVID-19, retailers will create more goodwill and ultimately attract more customers. This support can come in the form of sharing content and information online, supporting local health and safety workers, and maintaining an active presence in your local community any way that you can.
The novel coronavirus has led the country into a substantial time of hardship and uncertainty, however, consumers continue to find comfort in knowing that the dollars they spend support their local communities.
As different cities and states around the country begin to reopen, it's important that businesses understand that, for the foreseeable future, the way consumers interact with them and purchase goods will remain changed. Businesses that align themselves with causes important to their communities, dive into digital, leverage OTT, and change their physical experiences will be set up for success in the new normal.
Aman Sareen is the CEO and co-founder of ZypTV, a local-focused, full-stack, omnichannel digital advertising platform.
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