Community Resilience & Industry Best Practices in Shifting Circumstances: COVID-19

As our community of customers responds to this crisis, we want to share best practices, resources and stories of resilience with our readers. This article focuses on how people are responding, with input from folks on the ground. 

In the interest of minimizing information overload, visit the MacPherson’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information Hub for customer updates and general information about the situation. 

A Note on Perspective

Depending on your region, COVID-19 may be impacting you in different ways. Words like “self-quarantine,” “shelter-in-place,” or “social distancing” may be a part of your daily life right now, or these terms can feel like far off surreal customs not present in your community. Some stores are being impacted seriously, right now; we hope that resources from MacPherson’s will be helpful to you in some way while you are handling stressful situations and navigating uncharted territory. Some stores have yet to be impacted to the same degree. We aim to provide best practices and stories of how some retailers are coping. In sharing, we believe our community is all the stronger for it. 

Strategies we are seeing unfold this week in our resilient, creative community:

  • Going Virtual: Updates, Stories, Connection, Events
  • Minimizing Contact: Curbside Pickup, Delivery & Online Stores

Going Virtual: Updates, Stories, Connection, Events

Much of what we do needs to become virtual. While social media may have felt like a nice-to-have marketing strategy, in times of crisis, communication is immediate, and everyone with a phone is glued to one (while simultaneously disinfecting it). 

Here are some types of messaging to consider:

  • Bulleted out messages for your customers are easier to read and retain
  • Updates around how you are cleaning and disinfecting the store if you are still open to browsers
  • Updated hours and any other changes in business (see next section)
  • Posts about the therapeutic benefits of art
  • Posts about fun projects to do at home
  • Classes going virtual: stores are using Zoom, Facebook Live, Instagram Live
  • Posts about how your customers can support you (gift cards) and other small businesses

The Art Dog team is in the process of brainstorming ways to virtually connect and share resources with our art supply retail community. Please stay tuned for developments!

Minimizing Contact: Curbside Pickup, Delivery & Online Stores

Stores that are being impacted by shelter-in-place, self-quarantining or social distancing have mobilized this week to reconfigure their business. They are taking innovative steps including curbside pickup and delivery. Even if you are not at that point, consider setting up systems now. If you have an online store, bring the focus to the shopping aspect on your site, and promote deals via social.

The Art Supply Depo, an art supply store with two locations in Bowling Green and Toledo, Ohio, is a part of a community of retailers leading the charge with innovative responses. Owner Jules Webster shares some words of wisdom, and offers others in our art supply community to use the store’s copy on social media to edit it to suit your needs.

“My suggestion to other retailers is to switch to curbside pick up ASAP. We’re doing well with curbside pick up… I think the reason we are successful with it is because we made the decision to switch fast, and were one of the first in our business community to make the change. Our announcement didn’t get lost in the sea of other business notifications. I’m not saying it’s not possible now, but do it fast, and announce it consistently on social media.”

And how can you promote your curbside pickup program?

“We are posting photos of our customers waving from their cars, our customer packages with hand-drawn “thank you” notes on them, etc. We’ve spent years cultivating a dedicated customer base, as have other retailers like us, and all the love we’ve shown them is coming back. We are asking teachers who know us to share our posts with the families who have school children at home, and are letting all people know we can create a custom kit for them in any price range for any product category. It’s still early, we’ve only been doing this four days now, but we are still very energized and enjoying the challenge.”

Their message to customers: “We’re open… ish! And the phones are ringing off the hooks! We’ve got some new rules in effect, in case you hadn’t heard: Both locations are closed for browsing until further notice. However, we’re still here for you! If you know what you need, you can call your order in (TOL: 419 340 2701 /// BG: 419 340 3915) or email it over to us. Then we will package everything with care (and squeaky-clean hands) and call for your credit card info over the phone, place your purchase by the door at an agreed upon time, and watch you take your goodies away! Someone will be in either shop from 10am – 5pm, Monday through Saturday, and noon – 5pm on Sunday. We are asking for a little extra patience + time as we get used to this new system, take your orders, and package your supplies for pick-up. We are doing everything we can to make sure our staff as well as our community stays safe + healthy above all else. Thank you all so much for your support and patience while we navigate these strange times together!”

Check out the Instagram Stories on @MacPhersonsOfficial for more stories of resilience and innovation as stores minimize contact. 

Use Our Community Resilience Social Media Kit

For those of you with limited bandwidth or less of a presence on social media, we’ve created a Social Media Kit (similar to the Customer Engagement Calendar inspired kits we usually do) with assets for you to use during this time, that will hit subscriber inboxes tomorrow. For stores that are not yet seriously impacted, this may be useful to you in the future even if it is not resonating right now.

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