Adjusting To The “New Normal” For Retailers – COVID 19 Era

An insightful piece from our Head of Business, Claudine Gakundi on how retailers can adjust and boost their sales during this Covid period.

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The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has affected almost everyone globally and disrupted most if not all of our usual daily activities. Through this time, we have been pushed to think more innovatively and adjust to an almost completely online world. 

As a founding team member at Lipa Later I’m fortunate enough to have had the opportunity of having monitored  customers purchasing habits over the years; we have seen a huge spike in demand from our customers wanting credit to purchase consumer items we recently dabbed “Essential Covid 19 Products”; Essential being relative of course. 

According to Yarrow, a consumer psychologist, people are currently purchasing items based on three needs: to protect, to entertain and to connect. I’ve been able to have conversations with a number of our retail partners during this period, most of whom are pivoting and working tirelessly to cope with this unexpected pandemic. Following this pandemic, according to our findings from retailers and recent consumer purchasing behavior, these are some of the popular products our customers are asking for:

  1. Laptops, phones, tablets and Tv’s– With most institutions and workplaces closed,  there is a shift towards the digital space for doing your assignments, having meetings and more. On the other hand, with consumers having more flexible hours, Tv’s and game consoles are becoming popular for entertainment. 
  2. Cookers and fridges – With limited access to restaurants and movement, more consumers are cooking at home for them or their families and stocking up on food.
  3. Home and Office Furniture – In a bid to adjust and stay safe, DIY home workstations have increasingly become a thing. Additionally, because we are spending more time at home, you are starting to notice that squeaky uncomfortable bed and sofa that needs to be replaced. 

It’s no secret why consumers are gravitating towards looking for affordable payment plans for almost everything now. 

Being the head of  partnerships and business development at Lipa Later, my team and I have engaged with a number of our retail partners over the past weeks to understand how they are coping during this pandemic and how we can help. Here are some tips we have found useful for retailers in boosting their sales; 

  1. Offering a payment plan for your customers – With most consumers keen on better managing their cash flows and holding onto cash, retailers are seeing a significant drop in upfront cash purchases. Lipa Later will allow you as a merchant or organization to offer affordable payment plans for your customers allowing them to continue to make purchases as they pay for items over 12 months. This is a very effective way of tapping into a new set of customers and retaining your existing ones.
  2. Going online – I for one, can count the number of days I have stepped outside my home this month – the number is 4. In order to minimize exposing myself and my family, I have managed to order most of the things I need online, quite conveniently and fast. Admittedly, I have also bought a few things I do not necessarily need because of the enticing ads I see on my social platforms. I imagine I am not alone in both scenarios.
  3. Enlisting on existing Online Marketplaces – Most marketplaces draw a large number of customers and market intensively, especially during this time. Since most of them charge commissions on realized sales, you have nothing to lose. Exploring additional omni channels is bound to bear fruits. 
  4. Offering Delivery – If you are a brick and mortar store, most likely, walk in clients contribute to a significant chunk of your sales. Now that movement is limited and your customers can’t come to you, go to them.
  5. Fostering strategic partnerships – This trying time has definitely made us have stronger and stickier relationships with our retail partners. Why? We looked at how we can maximize each other’s strengths and help each other’s weaknesses. As a partnership, we have recommended our customers in need of their products to them and they have advised their customers to use our payment plan. 
  6. Adjusting to in demand products within your industry – Do some research and find out what products are moving fast like the ones aforementioned use the pointers above to push them.

As we continue to adjust during these times, we are hopeful for better days ahead. Stay innovative but most importantly, #StaySafe. 

LinkedIn article here- https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/adjusting-new-normal-retailers-covid-19-era-claudine-gakundi/

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