It’s officially small business week! And it’s coming at a good time, as vaccinations are being rolled out across the country, and more states and cities are lifting restrictions. This new found freedom will certainly leave people itching to get back to some normal- albeit still masked and socially distanced- shopping. Now is the time for your small business to start gearing up and getting people excited about visiting you!

Since before the COVID-19 pandemic, we began to see a shift in how people choose where to shop and eat, and that’s based on the experience. It’s the age of Instagram! Everyone wants to take pictures and share videos of daily things like brunch, shopping, and beauty services: everything must now be instagrammable. It’s led to the rise of luxurious displays and themed restaurants, and it’s a good way to get people excited to come back to your store now that they may feel safe. So we’ve got some great ways that you, as a small business and as a customer, can help the small business economy!

Heard of “retailtainment”?

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, people started shopping online and of course turned to the online giant: Amazon. In the first 9 months of the pandemic, Amazon saw a 35% increase in revenue, while small business revenue dropped 12%. We have become an Amazon addicted society and it’s been detrimental alongside the COVID-19 crisis to small businesses. Just as responsibility lies on the consumer, it also lies on you as business owners to bring people back to shopping with small businesses.

Ensuring your customers have a good experience when shopping with you will not only be good for your business, but will inspire your customers to do more in person shopping with other small businesses! Some ways you can create fun experiences, or “retailtainment” can be as simple as your decor. Here are some more ways you can create a fun environment in your business. If you need more ideas, or details check out this article by Forbes!

1. Crafting an Experience

You may see how large companies like Farfetch and Tiffany co. who are creating in-store shopping experiences and think that you could never do something like that, but don’t be intimidated! While those grand and high tech attractions are feasible for large companies, small businesses have their own charm to capitalize on. Decorating your storefront with flowers, mirrors, and artistic displays of your product are great ways to create a retail experience and a social media buzz! Think of a theme, and consider ways you can bring fun and “instagrammable decor” indoors to make your shop a fun place to visit.

2. People make a difference:

You and your staff put a face to the products, especially at the local small business level. How you treat and greet customers is incredibly important, they can quite literally make or break your business! Consumers have many choices when shopping, and one of the best parts of shopping small is the amazing customer service you receive when you’re with a person who truly cares about you and their product/service. As a business owner, ensure your customers have a great experience not only shopping, but communicating with you and your brand!

3. You don’t have to dive in:

If you’re worried about taking on the brick and mortar expenses, keep your business online for now! Many product based businesses, (such as Lively, Glossier, and more) have tested their market and product online before taking the plunge into a retail store. This not only assures you have an audience awaiting you but gives you the opportunity to make your retail experience more minimal and digital since it is already in your background.

If you’re simply not ready to take on the brick and mortar expenses, then don’t! Many businesses have found that shifting direct to consumer because of the COVID-19 pandemic, has been even more profitable for their business! If the virtual pivot has been working for you, there’s no need to shift! (Here’s some examples of businesses who have seen how successful a virtual business can be). Keep doing what is working for you until you feel ready to get back out there. But don’t wait too long – remember that staying ahead of trends is key to finding your customers, and expanding your reach.