In the months since it first made headlines, the COVID-19 pandemic has single-handedly challenged the economy and caused countless businesses — big and small — to close. Brick-and-mortar businesses have been particularly hard hit, as social distancing rules put a stop on foot traffic — and practically overnight at that.
Of course, there was always the hope that this was nothing more than a temporary setback. As the months dragged on, however, it’s becoming apparent that many businesses are not going to survive this so-called “new normal.” As a small business owner, this is obviously a fate that you want to avoid at all costs. And yes, it can be done by taking your business online and creating (or in some cases, expanding) with a virtual store. So, here are some of the ways you can ensure that your online efforts are not for naught.
Improve your business functions.
First thing’s first — a business is the amalgamation of several different tasks and functions, flowing from one to the other toward an objective, which is almost always revenue generation. It’s a must, therefore, for a business — any business — to make sure that this workflow is streamlined, as a single hiccup in one step can have an adverse effect on the rest, leading to unfulfilled orders and, in turn, unhappy customers.
This very principle essentially remains the same in an online store. For this reason, it’s only prudent to take stock of your workflow and see how it translates into the online setup. Again, the goal is to keep your business functions — from order taking to fulfillment to after-sales — moving smoothly and seamlessly. You’ll then want to look into software and platforms that can help you in that end, especially when you’re operating remotely.
Case in point, say you have an inventory-based small business. With so many products to move, you will need a streamlined warehouse to meet the demands of your customers, so it’s important to ensure that everything from your employees to your equipment operates with peak efficiency. Moreover, customers expect to receive their goods without delay, so you’ll constantly need to find ways to speed up certain processes, such as order picking.
Embrace digital transformation.
Of course, it’s not enough to embrace technology at the back end when you move toward online selling. In fact, it’s even more important to make your digital transformation all-encompassing, so you’re able to bring your current customers into the fold and reach new ones in the process.
Indeed, as you explore this new way of doing business and selling, innovation must be your focus as this is, by and large, the best way for your business to adapt to COVID-19 and the changes it brought with it. In a nutshell, this will include adjusting your marketing strategy to tap into social media and other digital channels, which is, in turn, one of the best ways to cultivate relationships with customers, both old and new.
Take opportunities for reinvention.
And while still on the subject of innovation, it’s also undoubtedly an opportune time for reinvention. As you take your digital transformation in stride, consider riding this wave of change and explore the ways in which you can reinvent your brand and your messaging, so that they resonate better in this new platform that you’re doing business from, as well as the times.
No doubt, redesigning your website is a fantastic way to do so. With a more online-centric business model, your website will essentially become the face of your business. For this reason, it’s smart to give it a revamp, so you can put your best foot forward and show people what your business is about — particularly if your efforts have been halfhearted in the past.
Indeed, COVID-19 has been challenging to small businesses, to say the least, so it’s important to do all you can to keep it at that and avoid total devastation for your business. Expanding to an online store is a leap of faith, yes. But with the internet and its multitudes of resources and tools ready to welcome your business with open arms, you’ll find that there’s really no cause for fear.