With so much uncertainty during this unprecedented coronavirus outbreak, small business owners are among those who are feeling the pinch the hardest.
In particular, retailers and hospitality businesses that have been forced to close due to nationwide lockdowns, or are experiencing a fraction of their usual foot traffic.
Given that so many customers are either unable or unwilling to physically step through shop doors at the moment, we thought we’d put together a step-by-step guide to how brick-and-mortar businesses can survive coronavirus.
Well, first things first: your business needs a digital presence.
Whether you’re the proud owner of an independent clothing store or you run a small local restaurant, shifting your business to digital is a quicker and more straightforward process than you might think.
This is the first step for how brick-and-mortar businesses can survive the coronavirus.
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1. Create a website, complete with online store
Image Source: Retail is Detail
For restaurateurs, it might be enough to simply have a website that includes your full menu, prices, and a phone number to place a delivery order. Most consumers will order your food via third-party delivery apps like UberEats, GrubHub and DoorDash. We’ll discuss how you can utilize these delivery services in a moment.
For retailers that have a very simple website or don’t have one at all, it’s time to “up the ante”. Your website needs updating to include your product listings, and facilitate online purchases.
Ecommerce platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce can offer you a highly interactive online shop for a monthly rate, and they can do it fast. These affordable subscription-based platforms allow businesses of all shapes and sizes to promote, sell and ship products on a very user-friendly interface.
Image Source: Shopify
Whether you consider yourself tech-savvy or not, it’s worth having a think about how you can best display your products and/or services online, and create a website that reflects the professionalism of your business.
The key to how brick-and-mortar businesses can survive the coronavirus lies with having a good website.
2. Find reliable and well-known delivery services to partner up with
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Depending on the size and scope of your business, you might be capable of handling all online orders yourself. If your customers are local and each transaction is significant enough to justify you personally delivering it, why not?
If transactions are more frequent and perhaps not singularly lucrative enough to justify driving all over town, it might be time to enlist some help from a third party delivery service like Postmates or Wish.
Image Source: Urban Tastebud
There are so many delivery services to choose from these days, that it’s best to spend some time exploring your options and finding out which delivery apps are most commonly used by your target demographic, as well as your existing customers that you’re hoping to retain.
It’s worth noting that right now, many third-party delivery apps are deferring or completely waiving marketing commissions and subscription payments in an effort to keep their partner businesses alive.
GrubHub, DoorDash and Postmates have already taken this initiative in light of COVID-19, and more are expected to join. Now is the ideal time to capitalize on these delivery services to improve your online sales.
Remember – your primary goal is to make it as quick, easy and straightforward as possible for customers to browse, purchase and receive your products.
3. Communicate with your customers directly
Now that you have an online store where customers can browse your entire product offering, make purchases with ease and enjoy delivery right to their door, you need to broadcast this information to your target audience.
For this step, there’s no limit to what kind of creative and innovative techniques you can employ.
Get proactive with your social media pages, and hold competitions to build hype around your brand (you can learn more about how to do that here).
If you already have an existing loyalty program that contains members’ details like their email address, for example, why not send out an e-newsletter to let them know you’ve gone digital? Use these means to keep customers updated on any changes as a result of coronavirus, or exciting new developments like free delivery until the end of the month.
Whether you already have a loyalty program or not, consider implementing a digital loyalty app into your business.
Not only will this allow customers to shop with you from their very own mobile devices in the comfort of their own home, but it also enables you to send direct communications and special offers.
For restaurants, it also offers a convenient solution to directly engage your at-home customers, even if they’re ordering via a third party delivery service.
Most importantly though, it keeps your brand front of mind at a time when this is more crucial than ever.
Regular communication and customer engagement is how brick-and-mortar businesses can survive the coronavirus.
As a provider of digital loyalty technology, Stamp Me Loyalty Solutions is in a unique position to help businesses with shifting to online methods to continue engaging with customers through this difficult time.
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How can we help you achieve the steps listed above?
Our loyalty platform provides a direct communication channel to your customers, and our team will be available to help you with strategies for utilizing the program to get your customers back in your store once things begin to return to normal.
We are also adapting the program so it is suitable for online businesses and delivery services. We’ll help you get your program off to a winning start, and you can learn how to get customers to join your loyalty program here.
If you don’t yet have a website, we also can also assist you with getting online, creating an e-commerce site, making changes to your existing website, or anything technical for that matter.
While this is indeed a concerning time for us all, it’s important to remember that this too shall pass and any downtime is potentially a great opportunity to plan your comeback and make your business even stronger!
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