Before the time of the persisting pandemic, businesses, especially brick-and-mortar ones, have relied on interacting with customers face-to-face. The rise of e-commerce did not eliminate the benefits of having a physical store. According to existing data, 99% of customers, with an emphasis on retail ones, shopped inside physical stores from October 2018 to October 2019.
The same study found that customers prefer to shop in-store in the name of ease, immediacy, and shopping experience. The waiting time that comes with shopping online doesn’t serve the immediate needs of consumers. Shopping online also doesn’t allow customers to experience a product prior to purchase.
However, when news of a highly contagious virus broke out, officials started announcing stay-at-home rules. The rules included businesses, especially non-essential ones, to close down indefinitely. Even if they weren’t forced to seal their doors to the public, they still won’t be able to gain sales because people are confined inside their homes.
How did the lockdowns affect the way businesses operate?
To start, they were mandated to close. This led to them finding ways to continue operations despite the lack of physical stores that caters to the majority of their clients. Some businesses, however, resorted to drastic measures such as deciding to close permanently.
According to Yelp, 61% of businesses that were forced to close due to coronavirus measures have decided that they won’t reopen after stringent measures preventing them from operating are lifted. This case is prevalent among restaurants. They rely on customers going in and out of their establishments for revenues and with people unable to go outside, earning is nearly impossible. The impacts of the measures against the virus are worse for small businesses.
On the flip side, some businesses managed to keep themselves afloat despite closing mandates. They made use of websites, social media, and other platforms designed specifically for doing business. These digital platforms helped both businesses and clients in terms of how they made selling and buying convenient. The platforms may not be inclusive because it cannot cater to all types of businesses, but they serve their purpose for the ones who can use them.
Additionally, digital platforms are not the only ones helping businesses continue operations. Purchasing items online–except for digital products–require delivery services. Courier companies play a major part in fulfilling the services businesses provide. The pandemic measures have allowed parcel deliveries to gain a significant increase in volume as people move to online shopping.
How can businesses keep up?
The establishment of an online presence is essential to keep a business’ name out there. A source we cited previously found that 97% of customers find businesses they need through the internet. While having a physical store set up is ideal to give the best customer service, an online presence will improve the chances of people coming into the store to make purchases.
A business can start the process of making their business visible online by analyzing which best platforms to use, outsourcing web design services, and considering customer needs and preferences. Established ones are understood to be in possession of decent online popularity and for starters, having a competition the size of e-commerce giant Amazon.com won’t make this venture a walk in the park.
To be able to stand out, a business needs to outline its purposes in going online very clear. Is it to make people aware of its products and services? To sell directly using the website? If it is to give current and potential customers some information about the services you provide, it is best to keep a website simple and easy to navigate. It should also contain information customers might look for when considering a purchase (i.e. accurate product information, where they can buy, and up-front prices). If planning to use a website to sell products, businesses should provide clients with a wide range of products, payment options, and delivery methods.
Businesses going online should strategize how they’ll be able to make people aware that they can engage in business no matter the situation. They tailor to people’s needs and that includes making transactions as seamless as they can get. Consumers flock to producers that can provide stuff they need. A good example of this is when Tushy, a company selling bidets, hit a record of $1 million sales in a single day. That happened during the time Americans were scrambling to stock up on toilet paper.
If you’re a business owner or still planning to start one, consider this guide your call to keep the establishment of an online presence in mind.