By Meg Moss, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director
The results of a recent survey commissioned by GoDaddy and conducted by OnePoll of 2,000 Americans and what they want from small business going forward, shouldn’t surprise business owners. But if businesses have been thinking that some of the things they did for safety purposes can be phased out once we start beating the numbers on this virus, they may be in for a rude awakening.
Customers have gotten used to a certain way of life and they expect businesses to help them maintain it. Customers appreciated how most small businesses changed their offerings and ways of doing business throughout the pandemic.
Some things that are important to buyers are contactless payment options, curbside pickup, online orders, self-checkout, mobile apps, ordering ahead online and QR code menus.
There are several local examples that come to mind. Brick City Boba is the new bubble tea and rolled ice cream business on Main Street in Jonesboro that opened during the pandemic. They quickly added to their walk-in traffic by creating both a mobile app, and a drive through window to accommodate the changing expectations of customers.
Added Accents, a boutique for gifts and women’s clothing located in downtown Sanford continues to offer both curbside pickup and in-town delivery.
And although Chick-fil-A of Sanford closed their dining room for months, I never saw their parking lot empty. It was and continues to be full of customers who have ordered curbside pickup.
Not surprisingly, 68% of respondents said they would shop from small local stores more often if they could purchase items online.
What does this mean for small business? It’s clear that consumers are in love with convenience.
Businesses may have originally implemented these conveniences for safety protocol, but it turns out many of us like having food and items brought to our cars. We love tapping credit cards at payment terminals and we like ordering things in our PJs and having them delivered.
Wise businesses have likely already invested in these things, but they may have done it with the idea that these protocols would be temporary. Knowing this is what many customers prefer may have small businesses rethinking a few things.
Some people still enjoy getting out of the house. Others love the instant availability of purchasing things in-store.
It’s important to note that all this desire for easy ways to shop from home is predicated on several factors including the ability for businesses to find employees, navigate the supply chain issues (so availability can still be used as a unique value proposition over waiting for an online delivery), and other side effects of the pandemic.
I hope businesses will continue these customer favorites once we come out on the other side of this pandemic.