We can honestly say we never thought this would be a title for a blog we would be writing, but here we are.
As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) sweeps the globe and impacts the world's economy, many businesses have either had to shut down temporarily or altogether.
Some, however, have been able to adapt and evolve, changing the way they deliver products or services or even changing what it is they do altogether. As an example, a local distillery here in Perth, Western Australia has stopped making alcoholic drinks and started manufacturing hand sanitizer to meet growing demand.
And the internet can play a huge role in how you can adapt your own business to evolve with these times as well. There is an extraordinary number of people who are now communicating over zoom (a webcam chat service where two or more people can get together and have meetings or chat to one another remotely).
So what are some of the ways having an online presence can help boost your business during this time? Well it does depend on what kind of business you run and what kind of product or service you have.
We'll list just a few ways that may be applicable to your business that can help:
Order online - delivery to your door
This kind of business has been around already for quite some time, pioneered by some much older internet companies out there, including but not limited to Amazon.com
You don't have to compete on that level of course, but if your customers can't visit you in person to buy from you, particularly if you have had to close your doors or restrict foot traffic, this is a good business model to try.
In fact, its the perfect time to try because the one thing guaranteed that people will be doing now is quarantining at home keeping themselves occupied by, yup you guessed it, surfing the net (amount other things).
Now there's a few ways you can do this, you can either have a website set up so you can accept payments on the website itself through a secure payment gateway, or you can have it so the website takes the order and you accept the payment on delivery - both are totally feasible methods to keep trading.
Training and learning
This category can cover a large net of business models out there. You may have heard of personal trainers streaming online via social media with their clients for example, getting them to follow along doing an exercise routine.
That too can be done online, or it might be that you offer to take bookings and payment online and then stream your sessions using social media. There's no hard and fast rules here. The real ingenuity comes when there is a business that doesn't typically train or show "how-to" sessions but they evolve and adapt and start doing this.
Something that you do as part of your business that you are an expert in that you could then convert as a course or how-to series to sell online for example.
A personal coach who runs a business helping organize their client's home and lives might not be able to visit their homes but they could feasibly set up a website with a subscription people pay where they can access how-to videos on how to get organized themselves.
That's just one example of course and it does require some creative thinking but it's thinking outside the box essentially. The key here is that there is written, audio or video content that you can create and sell that expertise content on your site.
Mail and return
Mail and return refers to business models where the customer would bring something they own or have to the business and the business does something to that thing as a service.
For example, you might have a phone repair shop and no longer have foot traffic due to restrictions. This is where customers could then jump on your website, and pay to have you receive their broken phone to fix. This could be either by providing them with a courier or mailbag that's safely sanitized and delivered to the customer to use to send their phone to you, or you might do an arranged pick up.
By having a site, you could accommodate taking these orders and even accepting payment online in a single seamless transaction. At the same time you're also providing a way for customers to ask questions, follow up on the progress of their phone repair, all through the website.
Guidance, information, and assurance
We're including this category here because maybe you have a business that hasn't had to close down, but people think you are.
Maybe they don't realize you're still good to trade with open doors, or maybe they do realize but they have concerns about safety and may want to know how you are handling the pandemic as a business before they venture out to your establishment. A website, in this case, can help bring about awareness and much-needed reassurance and important information on how you are tackling this issue.
And this is something we have seen business owners doing on their own websites. At the time of this article, we even have our own link at the top of most of our pages that take customers to a "how we are handling COVID-19" page.
Even as the pandemic starts to go away, however long that may take, confidence from customers will need to be restored. While this might take time, you can help instill that trust by educating customers right now via your website.
And there are all kinds of ways you can present that information to your customers, text, video, downloadable information sheets, webchat, and audio. Even having up to date reviews from customers who have trusted you and been able to safely do business with you can help enormously. In fact, it's said two out of three customers do their research online before deciding to buy from someone. Either by checking out the business they are interested in, or comparing one business to another.
We're sure there are many, many other ways to keep trading and the main take away here is that having an online presence and a website can help you adapt, evolve and endure during this difficult economic time.
You just need to think outside the box and keep going.