The coronavirus pandemic and the general self-isolation regime put small businesses in a difficult position. Most of all went to entrepreneurs whose projects are fully focused on offline. Now it’s hard to say exactly when the world will rediscover, the economy will recover, and people will be able to travel again.
The whole situation, which forced people and businesses to stay home, clearly shows that a business that is not represented on the Internet has huge risks in its work. It’s not even a matter of advertising, since it is a clear field of competition for all and only money can be an instrument here. We are talking about the constant development and improvement of the site in order to ensure a stable organic flow of customers and their service, even in the absence of advertising.
What awaits small business after a pandemic?
According to a new RBC Economics report, small businesses that have lost revenues still accumulate bills even as coronavirus activity declines. In fact, everything will depend on their ability to use constantly changing consumer preferences and use online technology as the economy opens.
The coronavirus pandemic has led small businesses to focus on increasing domestic procurement and digital delivery, as businesses have been forced to adapt to a new mode of operation, the adoption of new methods of product delivery and reduced demand.
The RBC report contains a series of recommendations for governments, business associations and firms, including a program that will help small businesses expand their online channels, and another one – to provide them with security certificates to allay customer fears of return.
Of course, there are some successful examples of how companies adapt to selling products over the Internet, providing virtual services, or even offering completely new products and services. However, the re-opening of the economy poses serious problems for others, especially those with limited capital, or those in parts of the province with poor or unreliable broadband Internet access.
In addition, the report suggests that business groups and governments can launch security certification for small and medium-sized businesses to encourage customers to return, starting with heavily damaged restaurants, hotels, and retail outlets.
Despite all this, it is important to understand that quarantine restrictions around the world will be gradually lifted, people will gradually return to normal life. Habits will change – someone will continue to buy online and play sports at home, many will continue to avoid crowded places, others will remain at a distance.
The example of China confirms that a return to normal life will not be easy. On the one hand, on the second weekend of April, which were festive in China, hotel reservations grew by 60% compared to the previous week, and train ticket purchases doubled. On the other hand, a decrease in demand for the products of Chinese enterprises does not yet allow to restore production volumes.
When quarantine ends, most businesses do not need to start life from scratch, but pull themselves out of financial difficulties. A survey of 1,200 US small companies conducted by LendingTree showed that 71% are afraid of not recovering from the downturn caused by the pandemic. 70% plan layoffs, salaries and job cuts, 69% said they lack money to maintain normal work.
If you still don’t have selling accounts on Instagram or Facebook, then now is the time to start creating them. Staying at home, people began to spend more and more time on social networks, to unite in communities of interest and make purchases. Having a business account on social networks and updating it with new information you can attract an even larger audience and support the presence of regular customers.
But social networks alone are not enough. Create your own online store. This may be the easiest on a shareware platform. In addition to the active maintenance of social networks, you will also need a site that will be responsible for the ability to place and pay for an order online. All this can be done independently or entrusted to companies engaged in technical support and online sales setup.
What measures should small businesses continue to take after coronavirus?
It is still important for small businesses to provide the opportunity to sell goods or services properly. To do this, the company must continue to analyze and optimize:
- remote payment methods – there are ways to accept cash payment and transfer checks without contacting the buyer.
- methods of delivery of goods – have information about where you can take reserve capacity for delivery or the ability to optimize your delivery processes when necessary. It is not necessary to make delivery free, it is important to make it convenient, predictable and understandable for you and your customers. Consider in advance the possible mechanisms for changing the motivation of the couriers in case the existing motivation does not provide a sufficient number of couriers and deliveries per day.
- ensuring the communication of your clients and employees (telephony, mail, messengers) with your specialists and work from anywhere in the world (notifications to convenient mailboxes, the possibility of revising orders from the admin panel) and much more. If all the operators are busy, let the call be fixed in a separate queue, which you can quickly ring. If questions to the mail duplicate each other – create response templates and instruct your managers on how to handle incoming customer requests in a standardized way.
- adjusting the content plan on the site and in social networks, taking into account the current situation. Think about how your company can make life easier for customers even after quarantine. Someone will be grateful for the discount, others for a bonus subscription to a useful or entertaining service, and some people for kind words and support.
The world is changing, but such recommendations will be useful even after a pandemic. People will not have the opportunity or desire to reach offline selling points, not only in a pandemic and quarantine.
After a pandemic, the world will certainly not be the same. Unfortunately, the full consequences of the pandemic cannot be predicted, but in a few months we will see the first sad results. Moreover, today it is absolutely certain that one can say that crises will become much more frequent and even regular after the coronavirus.