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Coronavirus has created unprecedented challenges for businesses, but the economic fightback is on. Read our tips on encouraging customers to spend more.

The coronavirus pandemic has sent ripples throughout the financial world, but perhaps nowhere has been hit as hard as the retail and hospitality sectors. Whilst the public have largely been supported through the UK government’s furlough scheme, shops and restaurants have lost months’ worth of trade and customers are understandably concerned about spending too much even as life gradually returns to normal.

Although the lockdown has seen many members of the public reduce their spending whilst paying off outstanding debts, the easing of restrictive measures has not seen a mass return to shopping culture. Despite an initial jump in high street footfall of some 38.8% during the first two weeks of June, retailers are still struggling to stay afloat in an already hostile trading environment.

It’s clear that shoppers need a little more encouragement to part with their money in current conditions, so here are just some of the ways that businesses can attract clients and boost earnings.

Take your offering online

For those businesses who’ve not yet taken the shopping experience online, now could be the opportune time to invest in a website and internet presence. With over 45 million daily internet users in the UK alone, creating an online space for your business could help you to reach a broader cross-section of the public and even provide valuable insights about the popularity of your products or services.

With easy to access website visitor metrics and the option to spend on targeted advertising, you could be selling products without even having to ring a purchase through the tills. Better still, figures from Google show over 90% of internet users search online to find local businesses. This means that not only could a website help you to open a new sales channel at a time when shoppers are spending more time at home, but also drive traffic to your physical premises.

Whatever your website sells and however it looks, it’s important to make sure that customers who do wish to spend with you are able to do so. By investing in an effective eCommerce Payment Gateway, you could create a 24/7 income with seamless functionality and the chance to impress customers with an easy-to-use checkout solution.

Promote gift cards

For businesses that are unable or unwilling to offer up their full inventory online, selling gift cards could provide you with an immediate cash injection and the promise of future interest from the card’s recipient.

For restaurants and leisure providers, gift cards could be the ideal answer to reduced revenues and footfall. Not only will customers be keeping your cash flow alive but also committing to a return in the future – whilst limiting human contact at a time when social distancing guidelines are still very much in force.

Make use of strategic discounts

In addition to promoting gift card purchases, businesses could also benefit from the increased custom brought about by well-timed discounts. For subscription models, now could be a particularly good time to encourage customers to sign up for longer-term memberships at a cheaper rate. Gyms, for instance, could offer customers 12-month memberships for the price of 10 – leaving customers raring to get back on site as soon as restrictions are lifted.

Similarly, whilst it’s tempting to secure every penny that you possibly can right now, retailers could experience higher sales figures if they encourage customers to shop with them by offering discounted shipping rates or package deals.  Discounts might help customers to feel more comfortable spending money despite economic uncertainty, and reduced prices always leave the door open to new clients who might otherwise have been put off by a premium price tag.

Finally, promotional discounts could even be used collaboratively to help out other local businesses and encourage high street spending. For independent businesses or those part of a local chamber of commerce, offering a discount to customers who can evidence their spend with another nearby shop could help kickstart your area’s economic recovery whilst generating goodwill amongst competitors and the public alike.

Back to basics

In addition to finding new ways of working, the coronavirus pandemic has also shown businesses that in order to succeed, you need to do the basics well. Whether opening new channels of communication or finding ways to identify with local and national communities that could bring you business, putting your name out there is usually one of the first steps in working towards better sales figures. Marketing is an essential business activity and it’s impossible to overestimate how much influence an effective advertising campaign can have when trying to attract new custom.

Once you have attracted customers to your business, it’s vital to recognise that your sales structure can only be as good as the close – and what better way to close a sale than with a reliable and convenient payment solution. As the last memory of a shopping trip, the way businesses handle payments is something that can really stick in the mind of customers. Ensuring that you have a contactless-enabled card reader (such as the Ingenico range supplied by UTP group) along with the ability to take multiple forms of payment could be the answer to inspiring repeat custom and ending the shopping experience on a high.

However your business has fared during the lockdown, now is the time to be encouraging customers to return. With further changes to the way our economy works on the horizon, there’s no doubt that businesses will need to pull out all the stops to work through the downturn.


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