While announcements about the possibility of opening businesses are long overdue, many are busy and launching on social networks to be able to maintain their activity. To illustrate these initiatives, we interviewed two Marseille merchants, a neighborhood florist, and the manager of a fashion boutique. The managers of these two stores share with us their experience of having to go through digital tools, to allow their activity to survive the re-containment.
Without a website, social networks are an essential tool
While some traders consider that it is now essential to have a website to get started online, others let themselves be guided by their intuition and common sense, and use basic techniques on platforms already at their disposal. disposition. “Les Fleurs de Nice”, a florist in the 7th arrondissement of Marseille, for example succeeds in attracting the interest and orders of walkers even when it is closed, with a poster clearly visible, handwritten with blue paint, which informs customers that their store is on the war footing: telephone orders are possible, with an appointment for pick-up. In this shopping district where the clientele is made up of passers-by, who walk past to go to the butcher, the bakery, the grocery store, the shop, like many small businesses, did not need an online sales website. The manager of the store, Céline, explains to us that despite the absence of an Internet site, the association of Instagram, of her mobile phone number, distributed thanks to her beautiful “handmade” poster, allows her to stay in touch. with its clients.
Lack of time and resources, obstacles to going digital
For Sarah Zitouni-Contadini, manager of the Lily Paillettes boutique, a concept store in the 7th arrondissement of Marseille, which highlights the creations of many Marseille designers, the lack of time is the main obstacle to going online. Since the opening of her store in May 2018, being alone in the store, she has been working 6 days a week, 12 hours a day. In these conditions, it is difficult to find the time to take care of setting up and managing a website, not to mention online sales, invoicing, deliveries, etc. From the first days of confinement, Sarah took advantage of the time freed up by the closure of the store, to launch into online sales, and she quickly realized the colossal work required to create an “eshop”: take pictures of the products, write descriptive sheets, manage stocks… The list of tasks seems endless.
“Without these periods of confinement I would not consider a site”
As for the “Fleurs de Nice”, artisanal digitization has taken place in a natural way: on the one hand thanks to customer support, and on the other, with practices that naturally adapt to the context. Social networks were until now for Céline a way to seek inspiration for her store. When the second confinement was announced, she was surprised by the demand for flowers from customers, who wanted to continue to indulge themselves in times of crisis, or who were looking for the comfort provided by the colors of the flowers and the greenery of the plants, for brighten up their confined homes. Some also simply want to support small businesses, and all these requests have prompted the shopkeeper to get started: “I made a very large old-fashioned poster where I indicate: remote CB drive, telephone, bouquet on order” . And that’s how the digital adventure began!
It is precisely this way of staying close to your customers, with a simple and unpretentious method, that has proven to be very effective. This is proof that businesses want to keep in touch on social networks while remaining close: “it’s written by hand, it questions people, they watch and some even take pictures of the poster!”
The website, an obligation?
For the manager of the “Les fleurs de Nice” shop, it may be necessary in the future to have a commercial site, but this is not necessarily a necessary step for her flower shop; “I hope that people will always have the pleasure of coming to the store to choose from or to call to talk: ask for seasonal flowers, explain to whom the bouquet is intended…”
For the manager of the concept store Lily Paillettes, her business is also a platform for other creators, and the website is therefore on the contrary, imperative, “it allows to increase the turnover, the catchment area and c t is also a showcase, 85% of people consult the internet before going and making a purchase in a physical store, ”she says.
What future for local shops?
Sarah advises to call on professionals for the realization of the site and to achieve a good referencing, very important to generate traffic. A professional photographer, the aesthetics and enhancement of products can be essential for the image of his business and make you want to buy. Thanks to this investment Lily Glitter has gained many followers on her social networks and this has triggered online sales that she ships herself or that customers come to pick up by pedestrian drive.
For the managers of these two businesses, the current difficult period has also been an opportunity to question themselves. For Céline L., this health crisis will allow everyone to really become aware of the importance of neighborhood shops.