Businesses are faced with tough challenges every day, that’s just one of the ‘perks’ of being a business owner. However, 2020 has been a tougher challenge than most of us have ever experienced before – and it has definitely made the lives of many business owners a whole lot harder. 

Many companies that aren’t digitally native are having difficulties trying to stay afloat. COVID-19 has really taken its toll with many small businesses struggling due to both the economic and social impacts of the pandemic. 

This pandemic has affected people all over the world but that doesn’t mean there isn’t hope. 

You can pivot your business, tweak how it operates, and adapt your strategies to survive this economic crisis. Come out on top by pushing your business into this new, upcoming digital era. 

Back in June, the US Chamber of Commerce reported that 1 in every 5 businesses had to close temporarily (19%) or permanently (1%). More than 80% of smaller businesses are making plans to change in response to this pandemic – and you should too. 

But, how do you pivot your business to endure the impact of COVID-19? Well, in this article we’re going to go through 6 things that you can change to adapt and thrive during the pandemic.

Get products online & start selling again

If you’re a traditional retailer, take a moment to look at what type of stock you sell. Is there anything you can sell online? Have you seen any similar products being sold online from other stores? Check to see if your competitors are selling online. 

Many businesses that already have an established online presence, or who conduct their entire operation virtually, will have an advantage over other stores that are just embracing the world of eCommerce. However, just because you’ve always been a brick-and-mortar store before doesn’t mean you can’t upgrade to selling online. 

If ever there was a time to build a virtual store for your business, it’s now. 

There are endless eCommerce platforms to choose from where you can easily sell your products, including:

  • Shopify
  • WooCommerce  
  • Magento
  • BigCommerce

…and plenty more. Hook up with a web designer and see what suits your needs most – and get selling!

Word to the wise: focus on attracting local customers first

If you’re relatively new to the eCommerce scene, don’t get ahead of yourself trying to advertise to the entire world. During tough times, people like to support local businesses. Think local and explore ways you can focus on customers in your area. 

For example: 

  • You can offer free local delivery 
  • Offer curbside pick-up
  • Highlight locally-sourced products to keep interest in your area
  • Use social media to promote your business 
  • Set online ads to target your area
  • Claim and optimize your Google My Business profile

Use Zoom to provide your services virtually

Are you a service-based company at a loss of what to do now that you can’t physically get to your clients? Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, there are ways around it!

By using Zoom, FaceTime, or any other form of video software, you can still give your clients the services they need – but in a different way. 

For example, If you’re a personal trainer you can get your clients to book in for virtual PT sessions. Teach a virtual fitness class that your clients can follow along with at home. 

Or, maybe you’re a beautician or hairstylist. Why not set up some online guides or video explanations on how to do professional makeup, hairstyles, and other beauty treatments at home?

Even healthcare professionals are moving their services online with telehealth facilities offering online appointments. 

It is possible to shift your services to the online world. If you’re at a loss for what you could do then get in contact with us and we’ll try to help you out with a few ideas. 

Update your website to match the needs of your customers

If you’re going to delve into the online world, then you’re going to have to update your website to match your niche. 

How do you know what needs updating though?

Well there are a few ways of doing this. Try speaking to current customers. In times of crisis or panic, one of the best things to do is talk to your customers and listen to what they have to say. 

You can post customer feedback surveys to get a feel for what their concerns are and what challenges they’re facing. Check customer feedback and analyze your data from sales to build a picture of what your customers want and need at a time like this.

Pay close attention to local news so you can identify customer pain points caused by the pandemic – people’s needs have changed dramatically in the last 9 months. 

By being ready you can build strategies that will better fit the needs of your niche and your community. 

From this, you can start to adapt and refurbish your website. Change your website into something that speaks to your customers and provides them with the solutions they need for their problems. 

Harness the power of local SEO

We mentioned briefly how focusing on selling to local clients is important. In the short term, advertising to local community groups, publishers, radio, and whatever else your audience looks to for their information is great. 

Long-term, harnessing the power of local SEO (search engine optimization) is the ultimate way to attract local clients to your website. 

What is local SEO?

Local SEO is what helps your business become more visible in searches by people in your local area. It also helps your business get to the top of search results for local queries. 

By making some changes to your website, your social media, and by creating (or updating) your Google My Business profile, you can improve your local SEO. 

How to improve your local SEO

  1. Create a Google My Business account (if you already have one great! Don’t forget to update it with new information, pictures, opening hours etc.)
  2. Get some reviews on your social media or your Google My Business from happy customers 
  3. Create website content based on local events, news, or attractions 
  4. Use local keywords such as the name of your city, town, street, etc. 
  5. Take advantage of online business directories like Yelp and YellowPages

By improving your local SEO your business will appear higher on the search engine results page in all relevant local searches. This means more local customers will be aware of your business – and choose you over national competitors. 

Reach old & new customers online with digital marketing

Your customers are out there just waiting for you to reach out to them! You can connect with them where they’re hanging out by investing in a new, solid digital marketing strategy. 

Social media ads are the quickest direct way to target your potential clients. Everybody is on social media and by setting up ads that target local consumers you can encourage them to support your local business. 

You can also retarget previous customers to see if they’re interested in purchasing your products or services again. 

If you have a list of customers, set up an email marketing campaign and email them offering discounts or free shipping on their next order. You can even suggest similar products to the ones they bought before to help entice them back. 

Cut out what you don’t need 

If you’re thinking of moving online then you might not have a need for that second location – or your brick-and-mortar store at all. If you’re able to and it makes sense for you, think about closing your physical shop down and move exclusively to online sales (at least for the rest of the pandemic). This will help save you some money on rent. 

If you don’t have a lot of space for your stock consider selling the old, outdated stock at a lower price online. People love a bargain and sales bring in a lot of interest. You might easily get rid of some stagnant stock by offering it at a lower price and they might just buy something else while they’re there. This is a great way of freeing up capital stuck in old stock that’s just taking up storage space.

It’s important to keep that cash flow healthy right now, so if you can cut expenses, or free up cash, do it! 

There’s no denying it – we’ve all got a difficult year ahead of us, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try. Many businesses have successfully pivoted into the world of eCommerce and flourished as a result. 

If you’d like help figuring out how to pivot your business into the digital world then maybe we can help, get in touch today!

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