Digital is the key to post-Covid success

The Virtual Worlds MD, Nathan Maclean on how retailers should reassess their digital marketing in line with post-Covid buying habits

The closed signs might only just have been flipped over to ‘open’, but that doesn’t mean consumers haven’t already been planning their new kitchens and bathrooms. 

We’ve all been spending a lot more time at home and the industry has benefited from this, with homeowners investing in property improvements while they haven’t been able to splash out on holidays and eating out. 

That’s promising news for the industry and hopefully the trend will continue as we start to see light at the end of the tunnel. One thing is for sure though, it is those retailers that haven’t rested on their laurels, or cut back too much on communicating with potential customers, that are likely to prosper the most in the long-term. 

2020 saw more and more people embracing digital and remote technology. Working from home, teaching the kids from the kitchen table and keeping in touch with friends and family via video calls all became normal. 

For many businesses, it meant quick thinking was needed to get websites functioning in the right way for e-commerce at a time when physical shops had to lower their shutters. Digital marketing and communications was already a thing before the pandemic, of course, but the past 12 months or so really shone a light on its importance in our everyday lives and in business. 

For KBB retailers, it’s never been so important to be nimble in their approach to attracting customers and to fulfil orders and projects. Kitchen and bathroom plans can’t go on hold indefinitely and designs still need to be delivered, which has meant a huge increase in the use of cloud technology. This way, designs can be progressed, customers and everyone involved in a project can be kept informed along the way and all remotely. 

Communication

Such technology not only means retailers can always keep the lines of communication with their clients open, but it also enables them to access support with their designs should it be needed, so there are no hold-ups and everything can continue to run smoothly, despite the global pandemic going on around us. 

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Social media has also got a huge role to play right now. Retailers and manufacturers alike had still to fully embrace the potential of this marketing stream before 2020, but with customers sat at home scrolling their Facebook and Instagram feeds to pass the time, there’s no time like the present for getting to grips with it. Marketing budgets are often the first thing to be stripped back when times get tough, but social media and digital marketing offer a cost-effective lifeline that few can afford to ignore. 

Your social media page is a shop window to your world, whether your showroom is open or closed. We’ve seen many manufacturers using this tool to help drive custom to their retail partners and those with a good presence on these platforms will benefit the most from such initiatives, even if they can’t spare much time or don’t have much in the way of expertise themselves. 

It’s important to sit back and think, what will be the lasting impact of the pandemic on consumer buying habits? It’s unlikely we’ll all ditch this move towards digital, so what does that mean for the high street, which was already fighting fierce competition from online? 

No crystal ball here, but what seems obvious is that independent retailers will need to be very clear on their differentiation and messaging as to why consumers should shop with them rather than over the internet. 

Consider your showroom displays and make changes where needed. Think about how people are using their homes now. What’s changed and what is likely to stick? Do your current displays reflect this? Are you offering your customers anything different from the DIY sheds and how can you entice them back to the showroom in real life when it is safe? Would virtual displays and digital technology help free up space and offer a good incentive? 

There’s never been a better time to be proactive, so retailers can ensure they come out the other side of the pandemic stronger, ready to convert leads and put the past year or so behind them.

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