2020 was a year of firsts for most of us, but not all of them were terrible. Though everybody’s situation is slightly different, we can probably all agree on one thing: we learned a lot. We found out what works and what doesn’t. We discovered new ways to connect with our customers, and in many cases, developed deeper, more meaningful relationships with our clientele.
While all of us probably have at least a couple of “we’re not doing that again” stories, we bet there have been more wins than you would have predicted, given the circumstances. So let’s talk about what worked and what didn’t on the long and winding road that was last year.
We Learned How to Be Flexible
Every day of 2020 was a new adventure. With changing regulations at the local, state, and federal levels challenging our sanity, there was only one option: go with the flow. It became apparent very early on that there would be no going back to “business as usual,” so the best option was to be ready for anything.
Challenging retail business models was probably the most challenging part as if we wanted to stay open and keep selling, out-of-the-box thinking was necessary. Many stores improved sales over previous years, opening up new sales channels and taking a more direct approach with customers. We asked them, “what do you need?” and we gave it to them, strengthening customer loyalty and building bridges with empathy and kindness.
We Embraced New Technology
When the prospect of in-person shopping wasn’t feasible, many of us redirected our focus to online purchases. We had time on our hands and used it wisely, integrating e-commerce platforms into our websites to offer more shopping options. For some of us, this opened up a whole new audience at the regional or national level. For stores that typically focused on local clientele, the ability to sell beyond borders was a chance to amplify their brand and discover new possibilities.
We Learned How to Listen
With people spending more time at home, focusing on wellness, and cooking for their families, we found new ways to support them with products and services that complemented their lifestyles. We challenged ourselves to amplify smiles and spread the warmth from online cooking classes, how-to videos, meal kits, craft projects, and at-home festive holiday ideas.
What We Leave Behind
Perhaps even more important than what we carry forward is what we leave behind. Post-COVID, there’s a whole new definition of “essential,” and many of us learned to value things we didn’t put a lot of stock into before.
For example …
- Kindness is an essential skill. We’re all stressed, some more than others. Impatience and rudeness have no place in the new reality.
- Collaboration over competition. We learned that working together is the best way to succeed. Whether it’s connecting with suppliers, customers, or others in our industry, we can learn a lot from each other if we just stop to listen.
- Planning for the short-term. We’ve had to narrow our focus to ensure we were prepared for what’s happening now, rather than looking too far ahead into the unknown. It’s a different way of thinking; but more conducive to customer satisfaction. After all, some things we can control, others we can’t.
What have you learned in 2020? We’d love to hear your feedback! Reach out today, and let’s talk about it.