It would be an understatement to say that small businesses, in particular, have been financially affected by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Some businesses have been forced to close during the pandemic, others have resorted to furloughing or laying off employees. In one way or another, businesses have been forced to make changes to the business operation. In fact, 92 percent of small employers reported that the Corona Virus outbreak has made a negative impact on their business.
For countless businesses, going back to “normal” has a much different meaning now. Your business was introduced to a crisis that for all intents and purposes was unpredictable. Now in order to make a comeback, there are some things that need to be done to pave the way. These steps will also provide some protection for the possibility of another pandemic or similar event for your business. Here are three insightful ways to recover your brand after COVID-19.
Open New Sales Channels to Provide Flexibility for Customers
One of the main challenges for many businesses is the direct results of the shutdown caused by COVID-19. Businesses that weren’t initially considered essential and relied on the foot traffic to their brick and mortar location were at a loss. They did not have additional sales channels available to them. Without a viable sales channel, there is little or no revenue that a business can generate.
Think of some of the popular products that people actively bought during the shutdown. Does your business sell these items? For example, bicycles were flying off the shelves at major retailers like Wal-Mart and Target. Customers were able to go to stores or order them online for pickup/delivery. A small business that also sells bicycles most likely did not have the option to remain open. Without a website to sell their bikes online, the business would have to scramble to build a website or miss out on the opportunity.
Now with the dust cleared, it’s time to develop your eCommerce site to expand on your brick and mortar business. There are many questions that you will have to ask yourself when building your site, including:
- Who will build it?
- What items to sell?
- How will I adapt my distribution process?
- Who will manage my online sales from the website?
- How will I handle online payments and credit card processing?
A new eCommerce website will provide flexibility so that your customers have additional channels from which to buy from you. This way, there will be fewer hoops for them to jump through when purchasing from your business.
Create a Digital Presence to Spread the Word
The saying, “If you build it, they will come” doesn’t exactly work that seamlessly when it comes to opening a business. Beyond your storefront, potential customers need to know that your eCommerce website exists. Beyond word of mouth, you can put signs up in your store that promote your website. This is a popular method that many restaurants use in conjunction with signs indicating the status of their service, such as “Delivery and Take-Out Only” or other types of messaging.
While this heavily depends on your business’ location, putting out the message is essential in spreading the word. That’s why creating a digital presence is so important, it gets the word out to a larger audience. Here are a few ideas on how to do this:
- Utilize paid social media posts. Testing out a few campaigns doesn’t require a big budget. $50 can get you pretty far. Target your audience based on where they’re located, their interests, and other information that could make them potential customers.
- Use email campaigns. Look for opportunities where you can ask for your customers’ email addresses. If you can put out regular content such as blog posts or newsletters that customers and potential customers can subscribe to, you can create a list of prospects. Ask for email addresses during the checkout process or create a loyalty program for in-store. You may even try offering a discount as an incentive for collecting this information.
- Optimize your Google presence. Make it easier for people to find your business online. Your business should show up on Google Maps, Search, and other platforms that Google owns. Verify the information is up to date and lists information about your website.
Make Changes Frequently Based on the Public
Part of how your business has changed because of COVID is due to your customers. We’ve had to completely alter how we shop–both online and in-person. This will take some careful thought considering you’ll be looking through the eyes of your customer. Things are probably going to be different for a while, if not forever. You can’t go completely back to how you ran your business before the pandemic, even with the addition of a new digital strategy and eCommerce website.
Let’s consider an example of how a business might make changes to better serve its customers. Some distilleries that had been required to shut down during this time have shifted their business to selling hand sanitizer and pre-mixed cocktails that people can enjoy at home. These products were successful for many of these businesses. The low supply and high demand for hand sanitizer were a significant far for the success. However, now that supply concerns have been mitigated, these businesses will most likely return to producing their regular products. Pre-mixed cocktails, on the other hand, are a product that could continue to be popular since people may be more wary to drink in large public areas anytime soon. Likewise, some customers enjoy having a high-quality alcoholic beverage from the comfort of their homes. Regardless, businesses are already beginning to adopt new practices to accommodate consumer behavior.
It’s not just a change in products that you could be considering when adapting your business. It could be something as simple as providing an online ordering and delivery service for your business. Even outside of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are many ways to expand your consumer base and utilize new methods of conducting business.