Small Brands in a ‘Retail Re-Opening’
13 May 2020
Author: Jasmine Waters
If you’ve recently been looking through your Instagram feed, you may have come across the story and sticker feature ‘Support Small Business’. Citing that they wish for users to be able to bring attention to smaller brands as easily as possible, Instagram is shining a light on an extra level of promotion the digital sector of the market can easily provide. Across the globe, COVID-19 lockdown restrictions are beginning to ease, meaning stores could be returning to their physical selves once more. But while independent shops are keeping their digital heads above water, will they be winners in the physical world?
When will we see a return to physical retail?
When retail will be able to open in its entirety still remains to be seen. For department stores, this will mean a complete overhaul of social protocol in order to adhere to some kind of safety guideline. Employees will need to submit to in-depth screenings, store layouts reconfigured to allow for one-way traffic, with reduced hours and increased cleaning. Retailers still don’t know how this will be received, but there may be a level of security by being in the department building itself. However, on the regular high street, advice and support still does not seem so clear-cut. In the UK, non-essential retail is expected to open beginning from June, and it is understandable that consumers may be initially hesitant to attend a shop personally – especially after growing so accustomed to many online services.
What can small brands look to be doing?
Something we have stated before is that the strength of retail post-corona should not be limited to digital means alone. This may not be the easiest of transitions, but it is imperative for brick-and-mortar to survive while finding a new normal. Small retailers can re-invent their space to become a hub of ‘local fulfilment’ for their products, working through costs such as expensive leases to supply order and drive footfall. It is also still important not to discount digital completely, as a seamless journey from screen to shop could smooth the customer journey, taking pressure off return processes and the ability to tell quality stock at full price. Personalisation will need to remain at the fore of a retailer’s mind – how can the elderly or key workers be helped further? What services will set your brand apart from competitors, particularly those online?
There is no question that ahead lies a challenging time for all. The high street is somewhere that has historically shown resilience and had always had a pressing need to carry on evolving. To survive through this period of establishing a ‘new normal’, small brand response – and continued support - is more crucial than ever.
Image source: https://www.pexels.com/@belart84