Necessity is the mother of Invention: Retailers learn the lesson of lockdowns

Retailers up and down the land have been busy during the winter months in lockdown 3, and the previous lockdowns too, for, although it’s been a frustrating time for many stores with the chopping and changing of lockdown constraints, the well-known proverb, ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’, has come to the fore, with many retailers rising to the challenge and adapting and discovering alternative ways of reaching their customers through the periods of lockdown. the lessons they have learned have strengthen their business.

Gale Astley, with over 17 years in the greetings industry, and a promo filmmaker, continues her report into the reopening of retail after a year of lockdowns. Read the rest of her report here.

“We’ve learnt that many of our local customers have remained very loyal and bought through our Creased Cards website. We’ve found many new customers nationally – through natural search results and social media – and I guess many of those people wouldn’t have been searching online for cards, so it’s been good to be able to serve a wider group of customers. We were already pretty good on website and social media front, however we’ve upped our game on both. We have spent the last six months fully re-developing our website and inventory/instore systems so that we are even better in the future. I believe a portion of our sales will remain online as habits from the last 12 months will stick. We want to harness that opportunity,” says Creased Cards’ owner, Paul Jarman.

For Sarah Laker of Stationery Supplies the last year has been a steep learning curve for her “in that I’ve had to re-think everything I thought I knew about how to run a shop. I’ve revamped my website to include local deliveries and click ’n’ collect services, and changed the way I do social media to engage more with the community and my customers so I could be there for them and share the pandemic journey.”

With an ingenious idea, Red Cards’ Sally Matson has continued with ‘Select and Collect’ throughout lockdown 3 by using the shop’s window, which has been displayed with numbered gift and card items for customers to quote when ordering. She’s also harnessed Instagram as a sales tool. “This has helped us to keep in touch with our most regular customers and has kept them engaged with the new shop project. I think we have learnt that the business would benefit from having a website, and this is something we will work on over the coming months.”

During lockdown Red Card in Petworth has been numbering its shop window offering so customers can simply order by quoting a number.

With non-essential shop opening restrictions soon to be lifted and lockdown business experiences noted and tucked under their belt, what are card and gift retailers looking forward to the most when they open on April 12?

“That wonderful sound of people laughing and giggling in the shop whilst looking around. Chit chat with our locals and new faces alike. And, let’s be honest, higher revenues!” says Paul at Creased Cards.

“I have never more appreciated our wonderful customers, I can’t wait to welcome them back instore! The shop local trend seems to have accelerated during the pandemic, hopefully this will continue,” believes Fiona at Papyrus.

“We can’t wait to see our customers again. We’ve realised that many of them have become friends and we miss knowing how they are and what their families are up to!” says Sally at Red Cards.

“I’ve really missed my custo-friends! I’ve realised during the last year how much my shop is part of the community and how much I love the daily interaction with customers,” enthuses Sarah at Stationery Supplies, adding: “When opening my shop in the morning, I love the promise of a new day and wondering who, or what, it will bring through the door. I can’t wait to pull up the shop shutters again on 12th April!”

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