With things so changing and business operations changing rapidly these days, Nationwide Marketing Group continues to monitor and update the industry on the status of its members.
In short, the bad news is of course that they are facing store closures and lower foot traffic for those who can stay open; the good news is that more than 4 in 5 (81%) say their web traffic has increased or at least stayed normal in the past few weeks alone.
The buying group includes a slew of retailers that offer everything from smart home technology and other consumer electronics to major appliances, home furnishings and even bedding.
Nationwide recently released the latest of three “rapid surveys” to take the pulse of how its members, their employees and their customers are being impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Major changes since the nationwide PrimeTime event
The first survey took place not even a month ago – conducted March 18-19, which at the time was only shortly after the band’s big PrimeTime conference held in Houston. in February and which brought together more than 3,700 participants among its 5,100+ members.
This event highlighted the connected home opportunity that the group, including the Home Technology Specialists Nationwide custom installation subgroup, expected to be important for 2020.
Based on the latest At national scale findings from a survey that surveyed 580 of its members across all channels, dealerships are adjusting to the new business normal amid the coronavirus crisis with a naturally mixed bag of success and slowdown. They are facing physical closures or reduced opening hours while remaining “essential” staff, but are also experiencing a subsequent increase in online sales.
According to the latest Nationwide survey and its comparison with the first survey conducted, 29% of retailers say they have closed their business, compared to 5% in the first survey. Of those who closed, 90% were ordered to do so by their state or local government due to a stay-at-home order.
Only 36% of dealers say they maintain normal opening hours, compared to 67% in the first survey; A further 30% moved to reduced hours, an increase from 20%.
“For stores that have remained open, foot traffic data suggests that the American public is taking social distancing quite seriously. Only 14% of retailers surveyed said they had seen an increase or similar footfall in their stores,” according to Nationwide’s announcement of its latest survey results.
Thrive with an improved online and e-commerce presence
As noted by the purchasing group, there is however some optimism to be maintained. Independent retailers who have embraced a strong digital presence and e-commerce practices can still benefit during these difficult times. Additionally, some have successfully adapted to new ways of communicating with consumers as the coronavirus has forced the massive shift to working from home and distance learning.
In Nationwide’s first quick survey, just over 22% of dealerships reported an increase in traffic to their website. In the latest results, that jumped to 42%. Of those who experienced an increase in website traffic, almost 13% said the increase was significant, up from 6% in the first survey.
“Once considered the final straw that would eventually break this industry’s back, independent retailers who have spent the time and money to establish a virtual presence are poised to reap the rewards during this difficult time,” says group announcement.
Nationwide says the response rates corroborate the group’s data it collected on web traffic and member usage, noting that dealerships with “functioning websites” actually saw a 20% increase. year over year for the month of March.
Additionally, these resellers are experiencing strong conversion rates, with online sales more than doubling over the same period. They are also investing in better efforts to connect with potential customers, as Nationwide points out that since March 16 (or the time of the first rapid survey), when more and more communities began to stay at home. , its members generated 60 new registrations for the website’s chat services.
In the latest survey, 14% of dealerships said they had started using collaborative video technology solutions to interact with customers, up from 7% in the first survey, Nationwide notes. Furniture retailers, who have been hit particularly hard by the closures and lower in-store traffic, lead with 17% saying they use video technology to communicate with customers.
Meanwhile, Nationwide had recently introduced a technical support program for dealer customers through a collaboration with Tech Smart USA, so that those who continue to enjoy sales success can also assure customers of a high level of service through the following.