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Finding new customers during a pandemic

Even as communities begin to re-open, a significant drop-off in brick-and-mortar shopping continues, furthering the decline even before the pandemic hit. Online retail sales, meanwhile, have seen a 74% rise in recent months compared to a year ago, according to ACI Worldwide research.

Therefore, to expand your customer base, you may need to begin online. Here are three ways to get started.

1. Add services and sales channels – If you already have a distribution channel, consider “sharing” it with partnering businesses. A milk delivery business, for example, can grow by adding meat, juices and other fresh, local products to its online selection. Businesses that have typically sold to wholesale customers exclusively might seek such partnerships or create their own online direct-to-consumer channels. To encourage recurring sales, subscription-based services can be added to your website. To further increase sales, consider adding channels like Amazon, eBay or Etsy.

2. Adjust your messaging – Consider a shift in your marketing to focus on the value you bring during uncertain times. To remain engaged with customers, fitness studios, for example, might host online workouts, while offering discounted gift cards and other incentives to entice customers back when the time is right. To help spread your message, you might identify appropriate social media influencers – persons with access to a large audience and can persuade others – to introduce your brand to a wider audience. Many traditional media outlets are offering advertising discounts as well through print and social media channels.

3. After-sales contact – Any sale you make right now is valuable, and an after-sales upsell is even more so. Online tools like Up Sell & Cross Sell and Shopify, both of which are available within the Clover payment system, can promote other products in your inventory directly on your order confirmation page, helping to increase sales. Follow-up emails and messages also help you stay connected to your customers.

The bottom line: Attracting new customers requires finding opportunities in new places. They are out there for agile small businesses to find them.

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