For many small and medium businesses throughout various sectors, the past few months of lockdown have caused great concern and a unifying yet daunting question: what will the future hold? Since the beginning of lockdown, SMEs have struggled with one survey even predicting that a fifth of SMEs may collapse before lockdown is over. However, on the 15th of June, we finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel — shops were once again legally allowed to open to the public.
For those in the antiques business, the 15th of June signalled a fresh new start. But many antique shop owners are still left wondering how exactly they can get their business back on track. After such a long period of lockdown, it is certainly difficult to plan your next step. However, with auction houses such as Fellows and the Hungerford Centre beginning to make high-ticket sales again, it looks like there’s a new-found hope for antique dealers everywhere.
Whether you’ve just reopened your antique silver shop or you’re planning on getting your jewellery company back up and running, here are some top tips to ensure that your business can get back to its former glory as quickly and seamlessly as possible.
Turn your focus to online
According to the Antiques Trade Gazette, the UK is second only to the US when it comes to its online art and antiques market. The UK holds a 20 per cent share of the global market, and much of the sales are now being completed online. In 2019, online antiques and art sales were estimated at $5.9bn — the second highest level we’ve ever seen.
Even before the lockdown, there was a strong case for updating your processes and taking your antiques business online, entering into the international market. Now, with the additional complications of social distancing and health and safety measures within your shop, focussing on boosting your online sales is the best way forward.
Send out a newsletter and keep your loyal customers in the loop
With different sectors being allowed to reopen their doors on different dates, potential customers might be finding it difficult to keep up to date on who’s opening when. During this crisis, customer communication is essential — especially if you’re in the antiques industry and rely on your loyal returning customers. Show them that you haven’t forgotten about them during lockdown and keep them in the loop with your newsletter.
As well as announcing your recent reopening, your newsletter is a great way to keep customers up to date with new products, adjusted opening times, and the new social distancing procedures of your shop.
Make sure you open your shop safely
A safe reopening should be your ultimate priority, and if you’re already open again, you should continue to put your employees and your customers first. As well as adhering to government guidelines, installing social distancing measures and limiting the number of people in your shop at any given time will make your customers feel comfortable and cared for — adhering to the bespoke, personal service they have no doubt come to expect from you.
Take some time to spruce things up
You may have been closed for a couple of months, but that’s no reason not to come back with a sparkle! Your customers are returning to your shop in order to be dazzled and to find something extra special after being deprived of shopping for so long. So, polish up your silverware and make sure that your diamond jewellery is glistening! Whether you’re operating in person or online, remember that your customers are keeping an eye out or something extra special.
It can feel overwhelming and daunting as an SME business during the Covid-19 pandemic. If it’s just you and your business, you may have felt a lot of pressure over the last few months. That’s why it’s a great idea to join forces with other online antiques businesses. As well as your own shop and website, consider listing your items on other online platforms, such as Selling Antiques, eBay, 1stdibs, and more. Not only will this take the pressure off your own shop, but it will widen your audience and put your business in front of a new, international customer base.
The current situation is certainly tough, but there’s a reason why antiques have stood the test of time! The antiques business isn’t going anywhere, and with a little extra boost to your business and some strategic marketing plans for the future, your business will be back on track in no time.