As the US and countries across the world start to ease COVID-19 stay at home orders, government officials have cautioned that the transition back to “normal” will be slow. So while retail and other brick and mortar stores start to open, small business owners should still be prepared for lower than usual traffic. One way to ease the pain? Focus on your online strategy.
If you are new or just starting out with online retail, we have 5 tips to help leverage your online presence effectively.
- Start with your customer journey first.
As with any business decision, focus your customer’s needs and how your customer journey incorporates those needs today. What do customers expect from a purchasing experience from you? How can you recreate that experience in the best way possible online? What products or services do they want/need from you? A successful website starts with quality supportive content.
- Utilize your social media and email lists.
If you haven’t been investing time and energy into your social media and email marketing strategy, now is the best time. As you ramp up your online engagement, communication will be key. Make sure your customers know what value you provide online and how they can communicate with you remotely. Be prepared to engage online on a regular basis. Social media will allow you to connect personally with your customer even if they aren’t stepping foot into your brick and mortar store anytime soon. It will help you keep a pulse on the changing needs of your customers and foster an authentic relationship.
- Upgrade your tech.
If your website isn’t set up for online sales, start looking at what upgrades you’ll need to make that happen. If you already have an online store, make sure you have optimized your user experience. A clunky site can actually hurt brand engagement. Sites like Shopify, Square, and Wix, are quick solutions you can begin using immediately.
- Get creative.
Small businesses across the country have gotten creative about how they can reach and serve their customers online. The possibilities are endless - gyms are offering online classes, chefs are giving cooking tutorials through Zoom, an animal sanctuary in Silicon Valley will even let you pay to have a llama to tune into your video calls. For your business, it might even be as simple as adding a curbside pick-up option to your check out. Again, a successful digital business strategy starts with thinking about what your customers need and finding creative ways to meet that need. What can you do to bring value to your customers from wherever they are?
- Think long term.
As you develop and implement your online strategy, don’t just think about it as a means to survive the next 1-2 months. Rather, consider how online activity will be a permanent part of your business strategy moving forward. The eCommerce market continues to grow each year, so chances are the majority of your customers are already shopping online. Plus, online sales increase your reach, meaning you can reach customers that wouldn’t normally engage brick and mortar. However, implementing online sales isn’t about replacing your brick and mortar store, it is a way to enhance your current customer’s experience while growing your customer base. Like it or not, COVID-19 has shifted the way that consumers and businesses operate. Online shopping is not going anywhere.