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As the world works to vaccinate as many people as possible against COVID-19 and the world's economy fights to recover, we reflect on what we've had to endure as business owners.
Many businesses, by now, have experienced having to lockdown. Both now and in the past. Something that's cost the Australian economy very dearly.
Some businesses, 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.
And the internet can play a huge role in how you can adapt your own business to evolve with these times. An extraordinary number of people are now communicating over zoom and working from home.
So what are some of the ways having an online presence can help boost your business during this time? It depends on what kind of business you run and what type of product or service you have.
We'll list just a few ways that may apply 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.
It's the perfect time to try because the pandemic has increased the amount of time we spend on the internet.
There are a few ways you can do this; 1) you can either have a website set up to accept payments on the website itself through a secure payment gateway, or 2) The website just takes the order, and you collect payment on delivery - both are 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 are no hard and fast rules here. The real ingenuity comes when a business doesn't typically train or show "how-to" sessions, but they evolve and adapt and start doing this.
Essentially, if you are an expert in something that you do as part of your business, you could convert it as a course or how-to series to sell online, for example.
A personal coach who runs a business helping organize their client's homes and lives might not visit their homes. Still, they could feasibly set up a website with a subscription people pay to 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 sends something by mail to the business, which the business then performs a service on.
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. The customer then uses that mailbag to send their phone to you, or you might do an arranged pick up.
By having a website, 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 and follow up on their phone repair progress, all through the website.
Guidance, information, and assurance
We include 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 perhaps they do realize, but they have safety concerns 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 essential information on how you are tackling this issue.
And this is something we have seen business owners doing on their websites. We've even had our own link at the top of most of our pages at one point during the pandemic that takes 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, and vaccines are being rolled out, 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 do business with you safely can help enormously. 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 other ways to keep trading, and the main takeaway here is that having an online presence and a website can help you adapt, evolve, and endure during this challenging economic time. You just need to think outside the box and keep going.