Five Ways Businesses Can Prepare For A Potential Winter Lockdown

While many countries, including the UK, have enjoyed a more relaxed summer than last - in terms of restrictions and lockdowns - several health professionals have warned the upcoming autumn and winter could bring additional challenges. This note of caution was further strengthened when Boris Johnson recently unveiled his government’s ‘Plan B’ to tackle Covid-19 should the country’s health system come under “unsustainable pressure”. In the autumn and winter plan for 2021, Brits were warned that measures including the compulsory wearing of face masks and home working could all return over the next few months. Future lockdowns were not ruled out either. 


To help businesses prepare for the potential return of restrictions, James Bosley, marketing manager at Esendex, has shared five strategies companies should consider.

Implement robust feedback structures

Agility is crucial when it comes to surviving a lockdown. Businesses must be able to adhere to any new laws, rules or regulations at the drop of a hat, while trying to keep their day-to-day operations as uninterrupted as possible. 


Although the future is still very uncertain, companies can use the next few weeks to gather data to build informed strategies. Despite a push to online, 64% of UK shoppers still say they prefer the high street. With this in mind, businesses should take steps to gain a deep understanding of precisely what it is their customers most love about their business and products, and take stock of which channels they feel most at home with.


SMS Surveys or email surveys are a great way to collect feedback quickly, in a non-intrusive manner. This can be particularly useful when businesses may have introduced new online services or are looking to expand digital offerings.

Personalise and incentivise

Personalisation goes beyond simply calling a customer by their name. Thanks to technology, businesses can ‘connect the dots’ and send unique messages to certain customers based on their previous buying habits. For ecommerce businesses, personalisation can come in handy when offering upsells and cross-sells to shoppers; having a ‘customers who bought this item also bought...’ section can do wonders for encouraging a higher spend per transaction. 


In addition, a little goes a long way - especially right now. A one-off discount code or flash sale, for example, may be the difference between capturing a new customer or losing them to a competitor.


Businesses have successfully navigated previous challenges, keeping customers engaged during national lockdowns.  But only if they continue to learn and adapt. Hopefully, many changes companies make now will have a positive impact encouraging better communication and retention throughout the rest of the pandemic and beyond.


Engage with your customers

For most organisations, resources have shrunk, but the number of tasks have increased. Fewer people are keeping more plates spinning, and it’s easy for day-to-day activities to fall behind. However, customer engagement is of paramount importance - 89% of businesses are expected to compete mainly on customer experience. Businesses need to reevaluate everything they know about their audience as consumer behaviour has and continues to change. 


Lockdown restrictions severely limited, and in some cases, eradicated the in-store

experience for most of the past year. In place of this, businesses must build online communities and engage audiences to avoid losing their customers to the competition.


Employ an omnichannel marketing strategy

Omnichannel’ has become a bit of a buzz word of late. Put simply, it’s an approach that provides customers with a seamless and integrated experience through a range of touch points. The best way to employ an omnichannel strategy is to understand your target audience by really digging into the data. To improve their experiences and increase sales, it’s important to map out an average customer’s journey from start to finish - from identifying the stages of cart abandonment, to highlighting the various touch points along the way.


You should also think about the different ways your customers can engage with you. Do you only provide customers with a phone number and email address, for example, or do you have a range of options available? Conversations through SMS, SMS landing pages, RCS, social media and even Whatsapp can be very powerful, enabling people to contact your brand however is most convenient to them.


Preparation is key 

As previously mentioned, agility is crucial, and agility comes from preparation. If the past year has taught businesses anything, it’s the need to plan for the worst-case scenario. Companies that have been established for more than a year are likely to already have contingencies in place should restrictions come back into force. For businesses that have already taken measures to survive, now is the time to strategise and improve on the foundations set. 


Should a winter lockdown hit the UK, companies must be able to ‘switch back' to online-only with as little disruption to their customer experience as possible. A lack of preparation will not only frustrate your customers, but it will also give similar brands an opportunity to swoop in and convert even those who had good brand loyalty in the past.


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