How To Move Your Brick-And-Mortar Business Online During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Small businesses are the backbone of the economy. They employ people, contribute taxes for development and make it a point to perform social impact projects in communities.
Today, the coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic has made staying at home the new norm. We are all encouraged to stay at home, self-isolate, self-quarantine and practice social distancing. For brick-and-mortar stores, these stay at home rules leads to fewer store visits by customers and eventually low sales. Regardless of this downturn, rent and cost of operating your brick-and-mortar store remain the same.
Whether you run a restaurant, grocery store, clinic or offer therapy, you can successfully migrate your business online to serve customers, make money and remain relevant during this period. As much as possible, you want to reduce human interaction by offering virtual services, door-to-door delivery of products and drugs and come up with innovative ways to keep your business running.
Here are a few pointers to help you move your brick-and-mortar store online within 48 hours.
Choose Your Preferred Website Platform.
There are good website platforms you can choose to build your brand. These platforms require no knowledge of coding and are easy to setup. Following the guidelines for each platform, you can easily create your website or eCommerce store within 24 hours and start doing business straight from there. Shopify and Bigcommerce are the biggest leaders of such platforms.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Shopify is running a free 90-Day trial for on the platform. Previously, the free trial lasted 14-days after which you were obliged to move to a paid plan to continue running your website.
You can start your eCommerce shop or website there and run it for free with zero transactional charges for the next 90 days. This offer comes with access to free gift cards you can use to rake in more sales.
Bigcommerce has a similar arrangement with offering 3 months free on all plans for new merchants. The offer comes with free transactional charges so you can save every penny. To help you market and sell to new customers, Bigcommerce has also curated a marketing toolkit to teach you.
Reach Out To Your Existing Customer
Your customers are the lifeline to your business. Using your customer data collected over the years, reach out to them with the announcement of your website. Assure them of your continued business operations in this time. Ask them to recommend your services to others via word of mouth, or send videos or emails sharing their experience with your brand.
Offer them special customer retention sales or discounts.
Go Harder On Social Media Marketing
In the last few weeks, we have seen many adults jump unto social media challenges with their kids. Everyone is doing choreography to latest songs and sharing them on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Tik Tok. In short, people are spending so much time on social media now than before which is why you need to create more content to share on these platforms. Create simple posters using Canva, beautiful Instagram stories with Unfold, schedule your tweets with Tweetdeck, make explainer videos with Lumen5, show behind-the-scenes images of your products and services and throwback to some good times in the past.
Invest some amount into paid ads on Facebook and Instagram. Take a few courses on Facebook Blueprint to polish your paid ads skills and go all out.
This is a great time to promote your business on social media and introduce your brand to new people. Go all out.
Offer Incentives To Your Target Audience
Adjust your pricing to lure more people in. Decide on ways to incentivize people to do business with you. If you run a restaurant can you provide free delivery? If you sell products can you give a discount which won't cost your business? If you run therapy sessions, can you give a free session after every five sessions? Offer discounts, sales, free shipping, promotion, referral codes etc to entice your target market to do business with you. Don't leave any money on the table.
Apply for COVID-19 grants and loans
There are several COVID-19 grants and loans available for small businesses in different parts of the world. Kindly contact your local government website to find out possible programs available. Make it a point to apply for these grants and get some money to help you stay afloat.
Remember that this is not a time to back down from doing business but rather a time to go even harder. We cannot tell when this phase will pass but we can only re-strategize, keep our heads above water and grow our businesses amidst the storm.
If you need any further help on how to set up and run your online business. Kindly reach out to us on [email protected]