A sign at Paddington Station in Ashland, Ore., advertising curbside pickup of merchandise.

A plush and book display at Where’s the Party in Costa Mesa, Calif. In light of the pandemic, the store is offering curbside pickup of merchandise, grab-and-go bundles, and complimentary delivery within a certain mile radius of the store.

As the COVID-19 crisis rapidly evolves, it’s inspiring to watch how adeptly major sectors of the economy are adapting in order to continue business while keeping safe.

During this unprecedented time, gift stores are continuing to serve customers by providing the life-enriching products and information they seek through some unique ways:

 

Promoting Applicable Product Selections

Activity ideas and enriching educational tools can occupy curious minds. Popular product categories include puzzles, games, crafts, exercise equipment, and family-friendly gourmet recipes. Craft supply packages with detailed instructional booklets and interactive “how-to” videos online offer another option and provide a fun keepsake when completed.

Gift store Paddington Station in Ashland, Ore., is preparing “staycation packages” of assorted toys, games and activities. They also share social media videos highlighting items that are great for playing indoors from puzzles to a DIY soap kit.  Home, garden and landscape design center Rogers Gardens in Corona del Mar, California is posting YouTube instructional videos on a range of topics including making fairy gardens for kids to how to grow tomatoes for adults.

 

Showcasing  What’s in Store

Virtual tours on social media channels give retailers the opportunity to teach about their products and show customers around their stores. Stores are coverings a variety of topics including introducing followers to staff; showcasing the newest product to hit shelves; giving a behind-the-scenes look at the store; instructing on the culture, society, history and artistry of an item; or just sharing thoughts throughout the day. Posting real-time content, especially on Instagram Stories, provides relatable moments for followers.

The Sedgewick County Zoo in Wichita, Kan., is presenting “Virtual Visits” on its Facebook page when it shares educational tidbits from its keepers and a behind-the-scenes looks at the animals.  When a longtime customer reached out to ask what was new, gift store Lettrs Gifts, with locations in in Hilton Head Island and Bluffton, South Carolina, presented a virtual store tour showcasing new merchandise and sharing information about how customers could order the items by phone call or text. 

New products can also be presented in social media album “look books.” Retailers are pairing apparel and accessories for outfit ideas, bundling items for a wedding gift idea display, or snapping a photo of items for enjoying the outdoors in the outdoors (even if is just their backyard). Items are shown based on price point, a color story, or general theme that speaks to the store’s brand.

 

Offer Safe Accessibility of Purchases

Making it easy for customers to get products while still social distancing can preserve sales. Curbside pick-up services – where customers call or text ahead to order merchandise and are met at their car with it – are growing in popularity. “Grab and go” bundles of items typically sold together make it easy for customers to quickly get the items they need. Complimentary delivery to customers within a specific mile radius provides relief, especially for families who do not want to venture out.

Gift, paper and party supplies retailer Where’s the Party in Costa Mesa, California is offering curbside service and is actively communicating with customers through social media.  Local pharmacy and gift store Arlington Pharmacy in Arlington, Washington shares important COVID-19 updates alongside other store content on its social media channels. 

Through email, website updates and social media, retailers are keeping customers informed of hours, product availability and the health and safety measures they have put in place. Many businesses, such as grocery stores, are closing early in order to sanitize and give employees the opportunity to take care of themselves. Continual communication will give customers all the information they need to know. 

Keep up to date on the rapidly changing COVID-19 situation by visiting the CDC website at CDC.gov/Coronavirus.

(This article was provided by International Market Centers.)