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How Small Retailers Can Refocus for Covid-19


Here, Dakota Murphey follows up her very successful data science piece, with some advice to (UK) businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic – specifically, small retailers. Dakota has more than a decade of experience in business growth, working independently as a business consultant for a number of years.

Owners of small retail businesses are understandably concerned about the impact of Covid-19 on their company. Of course, this situation is new to everyone, and with a new situation there naturally comes challenges – however, there are also opportunities. Here we take a look at how smaller retailers can refocus for the Covid-19 crisis.

Take advantage of government schemes

The first thing to say is that the UK government has recognised that this is an utterly unprecedented time for businesses across the country, and has developed a number of packages and schemes to make things easier. These schemes can significantly benefit small businesses especially, so it is definitely worth taking advantage of them.

The government has published a list of measures taken with further information about what they can do for your business, and whether they are relevant to you. It is worth taking a look through and establish which ones you can make use of.

Focus on essential items

There is no doubt that some of the UK’s largest retailers have struggled with demand for some essential products. There have been many reports of supermarkets running out of toilet paper, cupboard staples, and cleaning products, as well as other items, and this has opened up the possibility for smaller retailers to fill this need.

Of course, it will depend on what you currently sell, but it may be possible to re-think your strategy to offer more essential products. This could be an effective way to help your local community as well as ensuring that your business is still selling products.

Plan for the future

It is important not to be too short-sighted with your thinking regarding the coronavirus. Yes, this is clearly an enormous event with far-reaching implications. The reality is that the crisis will hit hard, but should be relatively short-lived. This means that you need to think about the present, but not lose sight of the future.

When lockdown ends, and travel restrictions are lifted, there will be an awful lot of people wanting to get things back to normal as soon as possible.

Diversify where your stock comes from

Now is a great time to diversify your range of suppliers. At the moment there is no problem with the supply chain – in fact, delivery drivers are actually finding things easier due to fewer cars being on the road. However, there may come a time when suppliers struggle to get certain products or face issues with deliveries.

It is important, then, to draw from a broader range of suppliers, and diversify where your stock comes from.

Lengthen shelf life

If you make your own products, then you should be looking into changes that you can make to those products in order to make things easier for your business and your customers. One of the best ways to do this is by lengthening the shelf life of the products. This might not sound possible, but often all it takes is a change in the packaging materials you use.

According to packaging specialists The Bag Broker, it is possible to improve the shelf life of food products by using “zip closing bags and degassing valves”. When simple changes can make such a big difference, it is certainly worth looking into.

Offer delivery services

If there is one thing that your business needs to look into that it does not currently do, it is the possibility of delivering orders directly to customers. Not all retailers are permitted to stay open during the Covid-19 outbreak, however, those who can offer an online-only and delivery service can work as normal.

Offering a delivery service means that you can continue to operate your business and serve the community with your products. This can be a great way to explore a new potential avenue for your business while allowing you to continue to operate through the Covid-19 lockdown.

Improve your website

Take this opportunity to improve your business’ website. This is something that can be done from home and can have a direct impact on the fortunes of your business moving forward. If it is something you have never found time for before, now is the perfect opportunity.

Take the time to work on the content of your site, as well as carrying out work to improve the search engine optimisation to help your rankings on Google.

Lydia Mageean Lydia Mageean has been part of the WhichPLM team for eight years now. She has a creative and media background, and is responsible for maintaining and updating our website content, liaising with advertisers, working on special projects like our PLM Project Pack, or our Annual Publications, and more.Joining mid-2013 as our Online Editor, she has since become WhichPLM’s Editor. In addition to taking on writing and interviewing responsibilities, Lydia has also become the primary point of contact for news, events, features and other aspects of our ever-growing online content library and tools.