How a website can see your independent store through the lockdown

Posted on March 26, 2020


The restrictions imposed on us as a result of the coronavirus outbreak have had an effect on all businesses, but threaten to be particularly tough on small, village food stores like butchers, greengrocers, fishmongers, bakeries and delicatessens.

Many of these businesses may never have previously entertained the idea of setting up a website, as the footfall from regular, local customers has kept them ticking over for years. Now, these unprecedented measures from the government have left them isolated with many of their regular customers housebound.

This is unfortunate because, in most cases, there’s no reason why these businesses can’t provide delivery services. Plenty of those that have already set up a website are not only managing to keep operating, but are swamped with orders, as you’ll probably know if you’ve attempted to buy any food online recently.

If you’re still an entirely offline business, it’s not too late to join the party. Ideally, the best system to have is an online shopping basket that allows users to place an order online, but even a simple site to let customers know that you have an online presence – often known as a “brochure” website – is a big step in the right direction.

To start with, make a list of all your products and their current prices. You may want to separate them into categories – for example, if you’re a greengrocer, products could be categorised as fruits, vegetables, herbs, and perhaps speciality boxes. These pages give your site volume and allow potential customers to find what they’re looking for more easily. Some high-quality images of what you sell will give your site visual appeal, in the same way that greengrocers put their fruit on display for customers to see and touch, rather than keeping it in boxes behind the counter.

If you’re not ready to set up an online shopping basket yet, simply put your phone number on the front page of the site so that people can call you when they’ve decided what they want. Some of your elderly customers may even prefer to do this rather than order online anyway. Be upfront about how soon customers can expect their delivery and how much the service costs.

It’s then a case of letting people know you’re well and truly online. A sign in the shop window will inform anyone who has braved the journey. Door-to-door flyer delivery is probably not advisable in the current climate, but you could consider targeting locals via Royal Mail, or contacting any customers you know personally over the phone. Possibly the most impactful, particularly at present, social media advertising opens up a new avenue and will potentially expose your services to people who would normally buy everything they need from supermarkets.

At Engage Web, we can set up a well-designed and simple-to-use website for you. If you’d like to learn more about what we can offer, why not get in touch with us?

John Murray

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