Due to COVID-19, thousands of brick and mortar businesses have been forced to shut down in Canada, forcing hundreds of thousands of workers out of a job, and many large retailers filing for bankruptcy. In efforts to protect the safety of shoppers and workers, malls have been shut down entirely, along with all non-essential businesses, with devastating effects on small businesses. In Ontario, we are now seeing a slow reopening of the economy, but there’s no clear sign of when things will get back to the way they were.
On the other hand, eCommerce businesses are struggling to keep up with demand. Since people are home and social distancing, they’re looking for ways to entertain themselves and their kids, work on projects around the house and spend more time on neglected hobbies – and all of this shopping is now done online. With Amazon’s temporary suspensions of all non-essential products, consumers have been diversifying to shop from individual online stores when they’re not looking for essentials. Those who caught the trend early and have made the move online are now reaping the rewards.
If you still haven’t moved your business online, it’s still not too late. Here are five ways to keep your business afloat during COVID-19.
1. Create an eCommerce website
Having a website for your business increases the chances for potential leads and customers to become aware of your products and to shop from home. If you’ve never run an eCommerce business before, there are plenty of programs and grants that can help you every step of the way, especially amid COVID-19. Digital Main Street, a Toronto-based accelerator is providing enhanced one-on-one virtual support to help brick and mortar businesses get online. Due to COVID-19, the budget for this project has tripled, allowing more businesses to have access to this lifeline.
If you’re in just ready to dive in and have a good idea of how it works, here is how to build a website using Go Daddy’s free website builder.
2. Build your business' online presence
Once you have a website, the next step is to build your online presence by using social media platforms. The most popular platforms to use are Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest.
Being present on these platforms aids your business to maintain awareness and amplify new opportunities to earn through the pandemic period. Here is how social media platforms are helping small businesses amid Covid19.
3. Have a marketing strategy
Some of the most effective online business strategies include:
• Local search engine optimization (SEO)
This is used to attract local customers near your business location and to create brand awareness. It also allows you to make a presence in search engine result pages.
• Google business listing
GBL enables your business to be visible on Google maps. This is a big plus for your business because it enables customers to find businesses closest to them. Customers are also able to see your business location.
• Local listings and directories
This is an easy way to list on local searches. You need to have a business website, number, permanent address, and official email to be able to list. Popular local listings are Yelp, MapQuest, Yellow Pages, and Super Pages.
• Search engine marketing (SEM)
SEM works hand in hand with SEO, but they are two different strategies. SEM is paid search advertising, which gets you visits on your business from search traffic. This can be done via pay per click, Google AdWords, and marketing search ads.
• Mobile marketing
About 3.5 billion people own a smartphone device. This is a huge potential for your business to tap in, especially during this pandemic. You need to ensure that your website is mobile-friendly. According to Google, “mobile marketing is not an option, but it is imperative for every business”.
4. Make use of shipping companies
When moving your business online, you won’t get very far without a shipping strategy. Make sure the company you go with allows you to save while you ship, and gives you access to multiple carriers.
With COVID-19 increasing the demand for online products, many carriers have been facing delays due to a sharp increase in demand. Use a 3PL that gives you options to choose from multiple carriers, so you’re not stuck when one carrier is facing a slow down. A great company to use to ship your products to customers during this pandemic is eShipper. It doesn’t matter if your goods are bulk or compact, local or global, eShipper allows you to ship and save, and integrates to most major online stores.
5. Spend on online ads
YouTube videos ads play a vital role in enabling a potential lead to be a customer. The company has launched a free video builder tool for creating business video content of 6 to 15 seconds. The best part is that the videos are integrated with Google ads program to target your audience.
Facebook, on the other hand, has launched a business resource hub to support SMEs affected by the pandemic example by having fundraising pages. Having ads running enables the customers to know that you still care for them and are in business.
Having an online presence is critical for your business during this pandemic, and even after it is long gone. You need to be vibrant for you to get noticed by your customers. Customers may know your business social handles but may not know how to support the business online.
Ensure that consumers know how to support your local business by placing enabling features such as making purchases that can be redeemed at a later date, and also by making direct donations to support your business. To get started with a shipping strategy for your online store during your transition online or even after, reach out to eShipper.