Camana Bay retailers pivot to a new sales model in response to COVID-19

May 11, 2020Blog

By Alan Markoff

With Grand Cayman moving to the second phase of its shelter-in-place curfew on 4 May, retailers were permitted to open and start deliveries of their products. Several Camana Bay retailers quickly changed their business model to include virtual shopping with home deliveries of products.

Cayman MAC Store was one of the first shops to offer online shopping and delivery to its customers during the shelter-in-place curfew. With delivery five days a week, their customers are able to get a wide range of products, including mobile phones, iPads, accessories and more.

Cayman MAC Store in Camana Bay

As many adjust to remote working, the shop also has available new stock of HP laptops, desktop computers and monitors, printers, webcams and headsets. For safety reasons, they do not accept payment over the phone; however, through their safe and secure online shop customers are able to order the latest gadgets conveniently from home.

Bon Vivant owner Cynthia Hew said she and her team were able to put together a new online store very quickly in a matter of days.

“We’re trying to create a virtual Bon Vivant shopping experience,” she said, adding that it was important that the new online store website—which can be accessed from the store’s main website at bonvivant.ky—had a similar look and feel to the Camana Bay store.

Hew said that Bon Vivant was “moving in the direction” of having an online store and that the COVID-19 curfew hastened its implementation. Luckily, many of Bon Vivant’s suppliers had supplied Internet-ready images of their products, something vital for the success of an online store.

Bon Vivant in Camana Bay

Hew said she was pleasantly surprised at how busy she and her staff were with customers in the first week virtual retailing.

“This week has been like Christmas,” she said, speaking about the number of sales. “I think it’s partially because of Mother’s Day and the fact that people weren’t able to get out and shop. But the public has been absolutely fantastic with all of this and we’re very grateful.”

Customers using the website still are able to ask questions, either by telephone or through Facebook about the products.

The biggest sellers in the first week generally revolved around items that made it easier to cook at home, something most Grand Cayman residents are doing more of because restaurants aren’t currently allowed to open their dining rooms to customers.

In addition to online sales, Bon Vivant will start virtual cooking classes soon, where the necessary ingredients are delivered to people’s homes and then they join an online video call to receive instructions from — and interact with — a chef.

Other hot items at Bon Vivant during its first week of delivering products included small kitchen appliances, sous vide cooking tools, air fryers and Big Green Egg grills, Hew said.

Right next door to Bon Vivant, owner Sara Lesieur and her team at Bedside Manor have undergone a similar transition to virtual sales from an online store platform located at bedside-manor.shoplightspeed.com.

Like Bon Vivant, Bedside Manor put the online store up in a matter of days, though it was still a work in progress by the end of the first week.

“We put up the products for babies and gifts for Mother’s Day first and we’re adding more every day,” Lesieur said.

Lesieur said she was pleased with customer response in the first week.

“It’s been received very well,” she said of the online store. “Going from zero to any sales is a plus.”

Many customers are looking for home products, including things like oil diffusers and other aromatherapy products, Lesieur said.

“They’re looking for things that make their environment nicer while they’re staying at home.”

Bedside Manor owner Sara Lesieur at The Residences at Seafire

Another Camana Bay shop that was busy in the lead up to Mother’s Day was Le Visage. Although it doesn’t have an online store of all its products yet, owner Sharron Eyers said the shop has started offering virtual beauty consultations and delivery of products since customers cannot currently visit the store.

“Customers call the store cell phone at +1.345.936.9450 to chat live via WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger,” Eyers said. “It’s a one-on-one consultation and it’s free of charge. The customers have access to our highly trained staff at Le Visage, who can answer any questions or concerns they have regarding their skin. We can then select the appropriate products and arrange a convenient delivery time.”

Eyers said that she already had a plan in place for home deliveries, including safety precautions, prior to the store closure, so the staff was ready to go on the first day that Le Visage could open for those deliveries.

“We prepare the order, charge the [credit or debit] card and prepare an invoice, paying close attention to our strict hygiene procedures during the order preparation and delivery process,” she said, adding that delivery is contact free — meaning that the person delivering will set the package on the customer’s doorstep, step back more than six feet, call on the provided mobile number and then verbally confirm the order is correct after the customer inspects it.

Although Le Visage had to make part of its staff redundant, most staff members were retained and are glad to be working again.

“The staff are extremely flexible and happy to be part of the new business model we have in place,” she said.

About the author

Alan Markoff has worked with Dart as the editor for Camana Bay Times for three years and has been writing professionally since 1997. Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Alan graduated from the State University of New York at Albany with a degree in English, and first moved to the Cayman Islands in 1982. He has 16 years of experience in the real estate industry and previously worked as a journalist for Cayman Compass before joining Dart to relaunch the Camana Bay Times monthly newspaper. An avid baseball fan, Alan loves travelling but also schedules trips back home around catching a summer game or two with his home team, Cleveland Indians.

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