Why local builders’ merchants must have an online presence during a pandemic

As the world tries to deal with the novel Coronavirus pandemic, having a digital presence is crucial to almost any business. England’s updated lockdown rules should stimulate face-to-face selling, but most people are still required to stay home as much as possible and will be making their purchases online. This is as true for local builders’ merchants as it is for anyone else.

And online sales are not only the new normal under lockdown conditions, they’re likely to become ingrained and expected even after the outbreak is over. Besides the obvious advice of ensuring fast, correct deliveries, what else is important for local builder’s merchants’ online presence? Find out below, and then make sure your business is optimised for trading during COVID-19 and beyond.

Set Up an Email List

As a local merchant one of your biggest selling points has to be the personal touch. Now that we’re not able to get out as much as usual, how do you maintain that individual experience? One of the ways to stay in close contact with your customers is to email them regularly.

Set up a list by inviting everyone who visits or makes a purchase at your store to submit their email addresses, and then send a welcome message to thank them for signing up. After that, send regular mails explaining tips, tricks and detailing your own experiences along with price changes, special offers and new products.

Establish a Social Media Presence

With everyone spending so much more time on their desktops, smartphones and tablets these days, a social media presence is essential if you want your store to get noticed. Customers checking out Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other platforms will see what you’re all about, and your social media presence also affects where you’re ranked in search results.

You want to be as close to the top as possible, so set up some friendly social pages and update them often. Along with your emails, this is a great way to communicate with your target market. Monitor the responses to your posts, to work out the time of day that most local customers are seeing them so you can ensure maximum impact when you put them up. Finally, try to personally answer all customers’ comments and queries.

Make Your Website Interactive and User-Friendly

Remember, everyone is going online right now – and is going to stay that way. Your website needs to stand out with attractive, interactive features set out in a very user-friendly format. Spend some time and money on a professional designer if you need to and think about what would make sense to you if you were using the website. That should help ensure that it’s intuitively navigable on desktop and mobile.

Tools such as cost calculators for the total number of tiles, timber or other materials are also helpful. If you have time, you could even consider adding a blog to your site. And don’t forget to invite every visitor to add their details to the email list mentioned above, as well as to follow you on all your live social media platforms!

Offer Specials and Promotions

Promotions and specials should be clearly advertised on your website, explained on your social media pages and in the email updates that you send to customers. If you know something is about to start selling well (such as radiator paint in autumn, leading up to winter), you could create a special offer giving discounted paint with the purchase of another, slower-selling item. To work out what sells well for maximum profits, you could even create different promotions and see which ones are the most popular.

Watch Others’ Online Presence

What are other local merchants doing, and how competitively are they priced? Do they have innovative website features, or amazing specials? Your competitors are definitely monitoring your actions and your online presence, so make sure that you are also watching theirs.

As you can see, an online presence is essential, and if you establish one now it will stand you in good stead long after the COVID-19 pandemic has passed.