The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted many things, including businesses, with small businesses being one of the most closely affected. Since these micro establishments are most vulnerable to shutting down or losing most if not all of their customers to their bigger counterparts, there’s the need to come up with strategies and methods to keep such businesses afloat during the pandemic. Here are some practices that can be adopted by such businesses to thrive during a pandemic era and beyond.
The pandemic has brought about drastic changes in the behavior and needs of most customers across the globe. The new social distancing protocols, working from home, and more sanitary practices mean that the average customer’s lifestyle has been altered, and their basic needs have equally been changed. Understanding the consumers current needs and lifestyle will help the business develop a new model that best serves their needs most effectively. Developing structured or semi-structured phone surveys can help determine their preferences to help provide goods and services specifically tailored to their needs.
Retaining customers when there’s so much uproar in the marketplace is difficult. Traditional interactions and ways of staying in touch with clients have been affected due to the pandemic. This may test your business’ personal means of relating with your clients as we witness an increase in the merchandising of goods and services, and online purchases grow even more rapidly. Using social media and email marketing to interact with consumers cannot be over-emphasized and is especially essential in these times. The use of social media to actively engage your customers and know what their interests and preferences are (social listening) can help channel goods and services that are beneficial to their needs during these trying times and make it possible for your business to better thrive during a pandemic.
It’s worthy to note that customers are more particular about the hygienic conditions of what they consume, the availability of essential commodities, and observation of safety protocols in businesses premises. Honest communications about the hygienic conditions under which products are packaged, staff and customers' safety assurance, and availability of goods and services, are essential to the survival of small businesses in this era. Your customers will now be aware and at ease to trade with you and even go ahead to recommend your business to others. This is crucial if you want to thrive during a pandemic.
You can equally provide information on products and services, your mode of delivery for the products, payment options available if there are any changes made to previous operation schedules, and your operating hours.
Many businesses can adapt to the current demands of the economic marketplace due to the flexibility in their strategy and working conditions. Businesses such as restaurants and grocery stores have provided options such as free pick-ups, home delivery services, drive-throughs, and online shopping. Shifts and other flexible work arrangements at the workplace will prevent overcrowding at the business premises and ensure employee and customer safety.
Small businesses are the most unprotected of all at this present time. Investigating how products and services can be redesigned and repackaged to capture untapped markets will produce dividends for those businesses able and willing to step outside their orthodox way of thinking.
Conducting business in a pandemic era requires very refined creativity in terms of marketing and operations. Businesses that can think outside the boxes of conventions can develop healthy and safe ways to market their products effectively. Discounted sales, promotions, gift vouchers, or coupons can also be some of the ways of marketing your products. Adding a gift back of hygiene products or essentials items to a purchase that reaches a specific amount could be a lovely way of attracting more customers to the business space. In doing this, be extra cautious to run it by your marketing experts and bookkeepers to ascertain the cost-benefit analysis of these marketing strategies.
Michael Anderson, a renowned business coach, puts it this way: be a human person before employing the business person phase to your organization. Social responsibility refers to engaging in activities that benefit the society within which the business is located. The triple bottom approach of business operation suggests that businesses have to operate in ways that benefit the people and the planet before making a profit. These activities can range from strict adherence to safety protocols to more philanthropic deeds.
A business can engage in the supply of hygienic products to customers or members of the community. Enforcing mask-wearing, frequent washing of hands, and social distancing safety protocols can be rather simple, but put your customers and workers at ease within your business premises.
There’s much debate on the widespread use of digital technologies in the pandemic era. Research has revealed that an estimated number of 3 million industrial robots were employed by the end of 2020 to replace jobs once done by humans. With the fear of losing jobs to machines and robots still lingering in the air, it’s still imperative for businesses to employ digital transformation to effectively coordinate and execute business activities in order to thrive during a pandemic.
Employment of digital platforms, online stores, and business websites to complement the brick-and-mortar stores would make it easier for businesses to reach geographically distant markets that don’t have the physical infrastructure to host the business. Having a high-speed and responsive online front for your business can boost sales tremendously. Google research reveals that a few milliseconds delay in an online store can result in a 1% decrease in overall sales. Monitoring and regular updates of digital platforms can smoothen the firm’s business process and greatly increase the business’ downlines.
In conclusion, there are many obstacles that small or start-up businesses are exposed to during this pandemic era. With that in mind, mounting new services and products that suit the demands of considerably altered markets is imperative for small businesses that wish to thrive during a pandemic era.