In a positive development, the government has now put in place targets and actions as part of Australia’s roadmap to recovery.
As we tentatively emerge from the depths of the pandemic, now is the right time to reflect on its impact on your customers, their mindsets and purchasing habits. It is also important to consider how you can take steps to strengthen the success of your business for the opportunities that lie ahead.
Lockdown restrictions will have resulted in all kinds of changes for many people who may now be working from home, juggling extra roles with home-schooling, experiencing boredom or isolation, or enduring financial stress. Everyone will be experiencing uncertainty about the future.
By necessity, many people may have turned to online shopping and food take-away and delivery services for the first time.
An increased demand for home delivery is also backed up by announcements that Australia Post has recently reported an 80% increase in parcel deliveries.
These changes may be short term, or they may remain largely in place with some fluctuations arising from future health and safety restrictions.
As a small business owner, meeting different and emerging demands will help guide your success in the ‘new’ marketplace. To do this, first research and understand how your customers’ preferences have changed and how this impacts your business.
There are several steps that will assist you in unpacking insights about your customers and your business. The insights will then help guide you to develop strategies to meet customer needs as they change.
Actions you could consider include:
Review new purchasing choices and channels
By necessity, online orders, take-away and home delivery options have been in place for a while. When people order online, they provide a digital record of meal preferences, days of the week they are most likely to order and contact details that you may not have acquired before. Take time to review some of this information as it will provide insights into customer choices and spending patterns.
You may find that some elements of your business will move online in the longer term or permanently, and smart digital marketing strategies will help satisfy new and existing customer demand.
Ask your customers
Speak with your most valuable customers and ask them how they are travelling in the current environment. In your conversations with them you will find out more about their concerns and needs. You can then develop your products and services to help them meet those needs in a proactive way.
Ask regular customers about what they think your business does really well. Their answers will help reinforce your unique selling point and help to guide your future marketing plans.
Examples of basic research questions that could reveal deeper customer insights include:
- What is it about our products/services that you really like?
- What helped you decide to come back to us after the first purchase/appointment?
- What are you looking for – new products or services?
- How do you want to make purchases/bookings – online, home delivered, tele-consultations?
- Where else do you shop for these products and services?
Monitor and assess competitors in the new marketplace
Take a look at existing competitors or new competitors who may have emerged during the pandemic. Use some of the customer feedback you have gathered and determine whether you need to put in place new strategies to highlight your value or your point of difference from your competitors.
Review your numbers and systems to inform your decisions
Now is also the right time to back up customer insights by reviewing the way your business operates. Look at the impact of the changes you have made since the pandemic began and consider what you will need to do to strengthen your business for the road ahead. This could involve reviewing budgets, inventory, staffing costs and more. As well as understanding the value you bring to the customer, you need to know your bottom line as a business.
Plan for the future
As restrictions continue to be wound back you can plan to build your business in the post-COVID marketplace. While there are no crystal balls and you won’t be able to perfectly predict the way forward, your customers will be one of the best and most valuable guides to help you plan.
By continuing to research, you will be able to adapt to your customers’ evolving needs, now and into the future.
Kick-start your business learning journey today with free business advice
Government support plans for the Australian economy have a keen focus on helping small business owners succeed. It is the perfect time for you to take advantage of FREE business advice by booking a meeting with the skilled and experienced Realise Business Advisors. They will help you analyse, develop plans and put in place strategies to capitalise on some of the ideas discussed in this article and more. They will also work alongside you to implement cultural change in your business that is squarely focused on meeting the needs of your most valuable asset – your customers.