The pandemic has left an indelible mark on customers as they become more risk-averse than ever before. Companies, in turn, are scrambling to create a more customer-friendly digital presence.
And while most businesses have pivoted to online marketplaces, some goods simply cannot be sold online (think restaurants and repair services). These businesses are stuck between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, they have to stay open to make more sales. On the other hand, they have to reassure their clients that their shopping environment is completely safe.
Searches for “available near me” up by 100%.
While customers have become more cautious in the past year due to the pandemic, searches for “available near me” have skyrocketed by over 100%. This suggests that customers are still more than happy to visit a retailer – if it’s all done in a safe environment.
But the onus is on the business to regain customer trust and reassure them that they’re taking all necessary measures to minimize the spread of the virus.
Customers Are Looking Up Product Inventory Before Dropping By
Nearly 67% of customers attempt to confirm if the desired item is available in stock before going to buy it. This is relatively easy for large retailers by using Google Merchant Center. Their inventory can then be shown in Local Inventory Ads which indicates whether the item is still in stock.
SMBs, by comparison, have faced more difficulty with real-time inventories. However, Google’s acquisition of Pointy now enables retailers to add products to their Google My Business page. It’s also easier for them to run Local Inventory Ads.
Using Local Campaigns for Store Visits
Businesses can use Local Campaigns to encourage more store visits. They can highlight products that are available for sale at the store, provide health and safety updates special promotions, and post important business updates.
Google now offers Smart Bidding so that businesses can encourage more offline traffic to their store.
What About Businesses With Smaller Budgets?
Many businesses in the US are categorized as “VSBs” or ‘very small businesses” with small marketing budgets.
Such businesses can optimize their Google My Business page, which is free to do.
- Completing their GMB page
- Using important business attributes (such as curbside pickup)
- Publishing update about COVID precautions
- Entering information about the products and inventory
- Giving last-minute updates to users about the product as well as safety information
To this end, the Google My Business page gives businesses of all sizes the ability to manage their reputation, and hopefully, encourage more offline traffic.
How Businesses Can Build Trust During COVID
You can do several things to win over your customers and build trust in your brand.
Send an Email to Your List
Send an email to your customer list explaining what your brand is doing in the wake of the pandemic. You should be careful not to appear too ‘sales-y’. The purpose of the email is to quell any concerns your customers may have about deliveries, supply chain, production process, and safety practices.
Keep Customers Informed About Unstable Supply Chains
The supply chain will be disrupted by COVID-19. This is why you should inform customers of any changes in your supply chain. If you don’t know if a product will be available next, be honest about that too and recommend alternative products. These are trying times so put honesty above everything else. Your customers will trust you to resolve their issues.
More importantly, they’ll be willing to cut you some slack if certain things go out of control.
Share What You are Doing to Combat the Pandemic
Because customers are concerned about their safety (as well as the safety of their community), you should share your story about dealing with the pandemic. This is an excellent way of letting your customers know that your brand is doing what it can to contain the virus.
So what tools are you using to bolster trust and create a customer-friendly digital presence? Let us know your strategies in the comments.