As of March 20, Prime Minister Boris Johnson officially ordered the closure of non-essential shops across the UK.
With the country now officially on lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus, and with shoppers expected to stay home for the next few weeks if not months, the high street is facing a crisis that is unprecedented in living memory.
For many brands, the high street is their bread and butter as it is responsible for the majority, if not all, of their sales each year. With shops now closed, retailers are having to adapt and rethink their strategies in a bid to stay financially afloat during this pandemic.
“Now is the time to prove why trading in a digital sphere is imperative and beneficial”
For those brands that are still trading, their focus has shifted from driving footfall to the high street to driving sales online. But for retailers like Snag that have only ever operated in an online domain, now is the time to prove why trading in a digital sphere is imperative and beneficial for any business.
I set up my size-inclusive hosiery brand Snag Tights online back in 2018 with a website we created in the pub and have continued to see success upon success since. As of December last year, we’ve been achieving £2 million in monthly turnover and have sold more than 1.7 million pairs of tights.
For retailers now shifting their focus to online domains, their digital merchandising strategy must be simple yet effective.
At Snag, we only use our customers as models, which not only helps to engage our customers, but gives a realistic description of fit – which can be a much more powerful motivator to purchase than many retailers realise. When customers cannot “try before they buy”, it’s important that imagery reflects women of all shapes and sizes so that women can realistically evaluate which size would be the best fit for them.
Building a brand that customers can feel a part of also makes a big difference when they can’t head into a bricks and mortar shop. We know from our research that body positivity and size inclusivity are both topics close to our customer’s hearts – so we’ve turned our social channels into a community, rather than a sales channel, where we tackle some of these big issues as well as showcasing their style snaps.
“It’s essential that retailers keep customer care standards high throughout the pandemic”
As a result, our social channels are a place for the whole Snag community to come together. This has been essential to the success of the brand. Not only are our post engagement and paid conversion rates extremely high as a result, but we also receive more than 500 direct contacts each day. I would encourage any retailer that is now operating in a digital sphere to do the same, and even more so if face-to-face interaction with their customers is usually the norm.
It’s essential that retailers keep customer care standards high throughout the pandemic. We pride ourselves on the level of our customer service, responding to more than 200 emails and 500 social media messages daily from customers around the world. Many will assume that customers won’t mind a lower level of customer service due to coronavirus, but now is the time to step up and maintain good, transparent contact with customers who have questions.
While face-to-face interactions in shops, and the befits of seeing products in the flesh are great, our success has proven that both of those issues can be overcome if digital marketing techniques are implemented and used effectively.
Covid-19 has changed the world and halted “business as usual” in its tracks. It’s essential that retailers rise to the challenge if they are to weather this storm.
Brie Read is the founder and CEO of Snag Tights, a size inclusive hosiery retailer