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LETS GET DOWN TO BUSINESS.

Question :
As a sports/school/corporate apparel supplier, how do we attack these early days of trying to get people buying again when they, alot of them like us, are also not going to have the spare income to spend. How do we start the chain that will enable us all to free ourselves of our fear? Especially when there is still so much of the “unknown”?Thank you all so much for your help, love and sharing of expertise. Grant

Question submitted 19/04/20 @ 12:37pm
Industry: Retailing
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  • Kia Ora Grant – thank you for dropping into Manaaki – I think we free ourselves of fear through engagement, through connection and for now at least physical connection in person is limited! But the need to be connected remains – and we all need hope – we all need the hope of being able to play hockey, play golf, engage in the kids sports teams and the like. The other thing too is that people are doing more zooms than they have ever with their customers – that means there are a lot of us on show with what we wear – maybe there is an opportunity there – I would however think about segmenting your customers from those that clearly are struggling (because their business is closed) from those that have continued to trade and may be more open and have extra resources to allocate to their brand leverage and extension – it might be that you think about how apparel can leverage the hope piece – how it can send a message to the rest of us that we can get through this. Wish I had more ideas, but I will think some more. Andy

    Hi there

    There are many opportunities at your fingertips you need to evaluate and deploy if it’s right for your business:

    – One of the things you can do to help with the customer journey is to consider alternative payment terms.
    – Do you currently offer Afterpay, Laybuy or any of the other buy now pay later offers? There is an additional charge for them but it is a way that could potentially help everyday customers get the product they are looking for.
    – From the corporate and club perspective, helping them with payment terms is another way to lessen and manage their cashflow.

    So that’s the practical stuff, but the critical thing to do right now is to connect. In every relationship, there are functional, rational and emotional drivers why they choose you.
    – If you have 121 relationships with organisations, make sure you put a phone call into them and check how they are doing.
    – Listen to their concerns and challenges and new ideas may sprout from how you can assist them. But what you are doing, more importantly, is being a partner. And those are the relationships that will last beyond this.
    – Think about what content you could help produce to solve their needs. They may need new ways to connect with their communities where you could be the conduit from a transactional platform to who knows what.
    – With the corporate sector, there is an opportunity to continue to share how important our staff. Honouring them includes making sure they wear their brand proudly, so you can continue to share information such as this to remind business owners and decision-makers that we need ensure our teams have uniforms and apparel that fit, is purposeful and as we move into winter, keeps them warm.
    – Consider with the 121 relationships that you might now need to work more closely to innovate on new and different apparel solutions. They might be cutting back costs so is their different solutions, materials, designs that can help you both get a win/win so they don’t simply go “shopping their business” to get cheap stuff vs. value for money.

    Good luck.

    Hello, Andy’s interview with the PM captured a good comment. He spoke about communication and the need, as a small business owner, to reach out beyond your normal business bubble and look for was to collaborate with complimentary business or simple share ideas with other small business owners. As much as we want the easy way out and for things to return to “normal” this will not happen for most people. We are going to have some form of restriction place upon us for quite sometime and this disruption is an opportunity & a necessity for you reassess what your expertise is and where else could you leverage this. Juanita laid out some great thoughts above but also look for new opportunities/markets such as going direct to consumers via online and start talking to other small, medium and large businesses who will all be looking for ways to bring cohesion and teamwork back into their new work environments when they get back to business.

    But right now cash is king so make sure you are reviewing your cost base, making cuts where every possible and stay on debtors list to ensure you are getting paid.
    Best wishes
    James

    Hi Grant,

    The ideas above are an excellent round up of new considerations so I’ll come at this from another angle.

    The thoughts below are a couple of practical tools to help you and your team collaborate, generate ideas and push the business to consider new ways to drive the business forward.

    Firstly, have a crack at an empathy map for each segment of your customer base. ( https://miro.com/templates/empathy-map/ )

    An empathy map gives you the head space to really consider what your customers are thinking, feeling, hearing, saying and doing at this time. As much as this will be an assumed exercise, i.e you’ll not have conducted qualitative research, it might provide you with a different perspective, territories to explore and raise some key questions.

    Cluster these questions into a series of how might we (HMW) statements. We call these statement starters. e.g HMW offer businesses that are ‘thrivers’ at this time with branded apparel? (See Andy’s LinkedIn article describing the thriver segment – https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/covid-19-response-some-thoughts-how-business-economy-can-hamilton )

    I recently helped Snap rentals pivot to Snap Delivery; a same day, personal shopper, grocery delivery service starting with Farro but expanding nationwide. If they grow the way we expect they will then they’ll need thousands of t-shirts, caps, name tags etc.

    Consider these types of businesses and target them with fresh thinking, a fresh perspective and a fresh pricing strategy.

    That’s just one HMW. Come up with 5-6 per customer segment. Once you’ve created your HMW statements get your team together on a call and using collaboration tools such as Miro come up with as many ideas as you can for each HMW. As a rule articulate your idea as a single sentence. Run these as 5-10 minute sessions with your team. You could use Google Sheets which we’ve found can work just as well as Miro for live ideation.

    After each session you’ll have generated a significant volume of ideas. Now refine them.

    As a group discuss the ideas and vote on the top 3 per segment you’d like to take forward.

    These are a couple of simple tools to help you to think differently and generate fresh thinking.

    Once you’ve got your refined list of ideas you can explore ways to bring them to life with your team, generate simple storyboards or prototypes of your ideas and test them with customers in your current segments and perhaps some new segments you’ve identified. See what gets a nibble and iterate your thinking until you hit on an idea(s) that gets your customer buying again.

    All the very best of luck.

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