Updated: Jul 28, 2020
2020 is likely to be the most challenging year that retailers in Australia have ever faced; first the devastating bush fires and then the COVID-19 lockdown. Small businesses around the world have had to come up with innovative ways of connecting with their customers; we found out how 2 Shoalhaven stores have used this crisis to transform their business and strengthen the relationship between themselves and their customers.
Meraki Home and You is neatly tucked away in Morrisons Arcade in Nowra, just off Junction Street. It's bright and welcoming interior, stocks its own uniquely sourced range of clothing, leather bags, perfumes and beautiful homewares.
The Meraki team pride themselves on the friendly and cosy in-store atmosphere their regular shoppers love to experience when walking through their doors.
Like others, Billie was compelled to close the store during the lock down but used the time to set up an e-commerce store so she could continue to trade.
'We always wanted an on-line store but finding the time and energy to do this and keep our business running was a challenge. During lock down we had no excuse not to focus our energies!'
Knowing how much their customers value their in-store experience, the team put thought into how they could deliver a similar virtual service. Understanding the stresses their customers would be experiencing whilst separated from loved ones, the store offered the option to purchase gifts, carefully wrapped and delivered with a handwritten card. Numerous customers bought gifts, particularly over the Mothers Day weekend.
'When we delivered them locally, there were often tears. It clearly meant a lot to people to feel that connection at a time where many of us felt lonely and isolated.'
Appreciating their customers needs, the store was able to successfully bring the comforting and friendly atmosphere their brand is known for, to their online platform.
Located in a whitewashed historic building on Queens Street Berry, is Moss Nest; a boutique store with a carefully curated collection of gorgeous, ethically sourced furniture and homeware from all around the globe.
The impact of the bush fires on the tourist business in Berry alerted Moss Nests owner Wendy, to the importance of an on-line contingency plan for her brand, which has really helped through the COVID-19 crisis.
Wendy spent time researching the most user friendly e-commerce platform that allowed the amount of imagery she required to provide the look and feel of shopping in store for customers on-line.
'I wanted a template that would give me a site that was visually strong and easy for my customers to navigate, Shopify was able to supply that'
A beautifully stylised website and social media presence is now attracting a wider audience to experience the pleasure of the Moss Nest store, even enticing some to come and visit the Shoalhaven, now NSW travel restrictions have been lifted.
Wendy is also finding that the website has changed the behavior of some of her more regular customers, with many now coming into the store knowing exactly what they want to try on or buy, after checking out the range at home.
An on-line presence has also allowed Moss Nest to forge a closer relationship with its customers, inform them of new products and help build brand awareness.
'We all love to feel part of a community and your business can also have its own community through its on line platforms'.