The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has touched every aspect of our lives.  Businesses have shut down, families hunkered down, and the economy slowed down. 

Concurrently, the way we shop has also changed.  If eCommerce was a slow-moving, if inevitable, train before the pandemic, today it’s a runaway freight train.  The result has been retail bankruptcies as consumers have been reluctant to leave their homes, preferring to pick up packages from their front porch.

But now businesses are re-opening, and with the holiday shopping season rapidly approaching, consumers are tired of being at home.  But they need information about what this new shopping experience is going to be like: What stores are open?  What are the new business hours?  Is there online ordering?  Curbside pickup?  What events are happening, and what health and safety protocols are in place?  And based on the past few months, the answers to these questions and others could change several times in the next few months.

Our partner company, Jacobs Media, just completed a survey of over 27,000 listeners of 355 radio stations across the US and Canada.  “Radio’s 2020 Holiday Road Map” provides the answers to these questions, and clearly shows retail customers are placing a high priority on safety (this is especially true among women).

So how do retailers communicate this to their customers, especially when advertising and marketing budgets are pinched?

We believe in the power of aggregation – bringing all of the businesses in a downtown or shopping district together to collaborate on a mobile app that answers all of the questions posed above, and provides even more.  This is a cost-efficient solution that’s in-tune with what consumers need, and puts it conveniently on their smartphone, which has become their “go to” device for shopping information.

The Covid-19 pandemic is re-writing all of the rules, and the old ways of marketing won’t be as effective – or cost-effective – as before.  Nearly every customer a retailer are trying to attract has a smartphone, so it makes sense to provide a solution where everyone in the community benefits, and your re-opening can be successful.

For this and lots of other reasons, it makes sense for merchant associations, chambers of commerce or downtown development authorities to bring all of the local merchants together into a single, easy-to-use way to find out what’s happening in your area.

The last thing a tentative, concerned consumer wants to do is venture out without the information to make their trip safe and productive for themselves and their families. Merchants can make their life easier by putting the information for all of your local businesses into one handy mobile application that can create a real connection between merchants and consumers.  And if the situation changes, push messaging will provide a fast and effective way of communication, improving your relationship with your customers in the process.

This holiday shopping season won’t be like any other – make sure your business and shopping district’s marketing plans are in-line with the “new normal.”

Wishing you a happy, healthy, and profitable holiday season.

If you would like more information from our Covid shopping study, contact Paul Jacobs at paul@jacobsmedia.com