Remote Retailing: Sales Strategies for Stores Affected by a Shutdown

March 24, 2020
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GT19As statewide shutdown orders become more widespread, retailers forced to close their shops are faced with serious challenges in maintaining their businesses. Below are some sales and income generating strategies for retailers currently working remotely.

We’ll discuss these strategies and more during our Remote Retailing webinar happening on Friday March 27th @ 2:00 PM PST, a free webinar that you can sign up for here.

1. Develop an E-commerce Platform for Your Store

With physical retail locations closing, retailers need e-commerce solutions now. Listing your store’s inventory online allows you to generate vital cash flow for your business. It also makes sure your customers continue to come to you for their comics rather than search out other options. ComicHub is a point of sale system designed explicitly for comic shops. It allows stores to quickly create an online store comprised of their inventory. The store’s customers can update their pull lists, make requests, browse stock, and make orders directly on the site. They are offering free installation and discounted monthly fees for all CBLDF retail members as well as ComicsPro members. Shopify is another e-commerce platform that offers new users a 90 day free trial.

2. Process Your Backstock, and List it Online

If you have a backlog of unprocessed comic stock, a shutdown order can be an effective time to process it. With most retail stores closed, comic fans will be looking to online sources to get their comic fix. Selling on online platforms will allow retailers to generate revenue while their physical location is closed. eBay is an e-commerce option that is currently offering sellers 50,000 free fixed price listings in March and April.

3. Create E-Gift Certificates Your Shop’s Supporters Can Purchase

In hard times, your store’s customers are often looking for ways to help out. Creating an e-gift certificate allows customers to pitch in what they can. Even if they’re unable to currently make purchases, they can save these credits to buy some comics once you’re open again. In the meantime, they can serve as an interest-free loan to help pay your expenses. Comic stores like Third Eye Comics are already getting creative with this option by developing their take on Liberty Bonds.

4. Sell on Social Media

Many comic book retailers have found a healthy market of comic fans on social media platforms like Facebook. Hosting a Facebook Live sale on your store’s social media account lets you sell directly to your customers online while interacting with them. Customers still have the chance to have friendly chats or joke around with their local comic shop retailer while purchasing their comics, just like they did at your store. The Comic Book Shopping Network is a Facebook group dedicated to hosting live sales lead by comic retailers and fans alike and sharing them to their near 50,000 fans.

5. Create a Patreon

Local comic shops serve as hubs in their communities where people can come together and share what they love about the comic medium. Many customers don’t want their shops to go away and may be willing to donate to a Patreon or GoFundMe to ensure the shop stays in business. Stores like Mission Comics have shown that this method can be a success. If you’re closed and experiencing a downturn in business, it might give you time to develop content that you can add to your Patreon to encourage support. A store podcast with a small paywall could have the dual benefit of giving your customers access to the comic shop culture they’re missing while helping to generate cashflow.

6. Gather & Use Your Customer Mailing List

If you don’t already have a customer mailing list, this is a good time to gather that information. There are a number of free email marketing services you can use to collect customer emails and generate newsletters. Starting a newsletter will connect you with your customers and provide a platform to promote offers and share information about your store’s status.

7. Market to Local Parents

With schools closed and many parents forced to work at home, keeping their families productively occupied is a serious challenge. This is a good time to develop some outreach to local parents. Strange Adventures is creating $20 comic book assortments for kids and marketing them through Instagram. Another strategy is to market these offerings on neighborhood social networks like Nextdoor and local Facebook groups.

8. Spotlight Your In-Stock Selection

In an interview on Newsarama Joe Field of Flying Colors said, “I can take care of people with comics until this whole thing moves through. Are they the new comics that everybody wants every Wednesday? No. But you know what? There’s a lot of stuff they haven’t read yet that we still have that they’ll probably enjoy.” Use your social media channels and newsletter to promote the range of products you have available and to recommend the titles your staff believes in. 

These are just a few of the ideas being shared in the community. Please send us what’s working for you that may work for your neighbor, and we’ll keep making articles like this one – email info@cbldf.org with RETAIL STRATEGIES in the subject line.

We’re going to get through this, together.

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