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Rethinking Retail

By Kristi Dorn, Editor | February 18, 2021

It’s easy to be nostalgic for times when you could go to the store without having to stand in line, stay 6 feet apart, or mingle and browse without a second thought. Retailers miss those days, too. And they’re working to conform to rapid change and requirements that come along with new realities.  

Most retailers were already creating online capabilities as well as modern, in-store shopping experiences. They understood that customers wanted to shop anytime, anywhere with personalization and loyalty rewards. What no one anticipated was the need for rapid digital innovation due to COVID-19.

Independent Retailers

While larger stores often have the financial means to ride out challenging times, small to mid-sized retailers generally do not. They run lean, making on average $10K in profit a year. The great thing about these businesses is the owners are tenacious. They’re finding ways to make shifts and think creatively about doing business. Often, they’re offering products and services in new ways and extending when and how they sell. Like implementing new technology, delivery, and pick up services that bring the shopping to their customers. 

Moana Nursery Cultivates New Ground

Moana Nursery is a Nevada-based nursery and landscape company with locations in the Reno area. President and CEO, Scott Gescheider, recognized early in the pandemic that he needed to make changes to adapt to social distancing and shelter-in-place orders. Moana Nursery had a website, but it was predominately geared towards showcasing an on-site showroom—a garden paradise that, sadly, few would visit. 

The nursery’s own talented employees used Epicor software with built in payment capabilities to create a new online store. Moana employees also took all the photos for their new e-commerce website and completed it in less than 14 days. The results are compelling—and a pleasant surprise. “We couldn’t be happier,” says Gescheider. “In only two weeks, we launched an e-commerce site that generated over 370 orders and $33,000 of additional sales in just 14 days since go-live. It far exceeded any expectations that we had.”

The nursery quickly responded in other ways, too. They added curbside pick-up for online orders in some locations and personal shopping assistance. Their agility delivered not only a great customer experience, but quickly met immediate consumer needs and extended well-established customer loyalty to a whole new way of doing business. 

Getting Social

There are some great examples of Girl Scouts creating awareness and traffic by advertising on local social media channels including Nextdoor and Yahoo Groups. Some partner with retailers and advertise their presence at local businesses where they setup cookie-selling stations. They astutely work with local retailers to offer store coupons or discounts with purchases. A winning strategy for the business and the Scouts. 

Savvy local retailers are also using social media marketing. It’s a low-cost way to get news out to loyal customers, while opening a conversation that keeps them top of mind. Social posts can also drive traffic to eCommerce websites.

Taking Bold Steps

Drive and ambition are personality traits of every business owner, especially those in retail. It’s not for the faint of heart. Resilient retailers are rethinking how they can bring their store to consumers online, at home, or to their car. It’s really about making their store mobile.

As consumers, we can support local businesses with patience and loyalty as they work to adapt. Continue to buy from your favorite local retailers to support their transformation efforts.

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