At the start of the year the main concern for business owners across the UK was how hard Brexit would hit their sector. Fast forward six months and those seemingly crucial decisions we awaited from the EU have fast faded into the background (for now). We now have a much larger obstacle to navigate. Business owners across the globe, have had no choice but to sit up and take action with their entire operation. More now than ever, businesses large and small must adapt to overcome this pandemic.
In the last few months the UK economy has shrank more than in the last forty years combined, and there’s certainly no secret to the fact the worst is yet to come. While businesses operating in home improvements, IT and PPE would have experienced a significant boom during this period, as supported by Kingfisher, the owner of B&Q, reporting 225% growth in online sales, other industry sectors have experienced a significant decline.
The question is, what can businesses do to give themselves the best chance of survival, and what can we learn from the businesses surviving the pandemic?
Learn from the king of Amazon himself
Love him or hate him, Jeff Bezos managed to grow his fortune by $24 billion during the peak of the pandemic. Bezos’s inspiration behind Amazon was speed and efficiency, allowing consumers to buy what they want, whenever they wanted it. As you would expect, this business model played right into the hands of the pandemic, where reliance on Amazon increased more than ever before. So, what can be applied to your own business model?
Quick tips to improve efficiency in your own business
- Automate business tasks wherever you can to save time and money – do this with an ERP Software Tool.
- Implement effective communication methods between your staff – make sure everyone is working collaboratively.
- Explore all possibilities within your supply chain – take advantage of the latest technologies and reward schemes.
- Develop your employees – train them, equip them with the tools to do their jobs remotely, reward them
Make your online presence known
According to Google, ‘buy online’ related searches almost doubled during the first month of the pandemic and were up 50% across the globe during June 2020 alone. As some retailers continue to close shop, those with an online presence as well as a brick and mortar store continue to generate revenue during this time.
It’s important to remember that this advice doesn’t stop at your local shop, or even medium sized business. Primark, one of the UK’s biggest retailers, which made just under £8 billion in-store last year made no money at all over the pandemic. For the last several years it’s been largely encouraged for businesses to start considering a more omni-channel approach to their strategy, but now it couldn’t be more clear:
If you aren’t online, you aren’t in the game. Click here to learn more about making the transition from brick and mortar to ecommerce.
Try not to restrict your marketing budgets
As lockdown measures started restricting the way business owners could run their normal operations, most had no choice but to start changing things around. For most this meant closing shop and working remotely. To save costs, certain budgets started getting restricted. The biggest hit of them all? Marketing budgets. Reports showed that large scale advertises cut their digital budgets by at least 20% in the peak of the pandemic.
With lower ad spend comes a reduction in ad costs, meaning those who took advantage of the situation not only benefitted from a reduced average cost per click [CPC], but also reduced competition per keyword. With less competition, the businesses that remained bold and focused on utilising this period to disrupt their sector, wiped out the competition and dominated search engines.
Connect with your customers anyway you can
The message your business puts out to customers couldn’t be more important now, especially when it comes to any significant changes in your business. The key to customer engagement is relevance, so make sure you’re going above and beyond to making your customers feel safe and in the loop. For your business, that might mean adapting some of the following processes:
- Minimize physical interaction with customers but make sure you increase your other forms of communication.
- Contribute your services and innovate products where possible
- Keep updates regular and easy to locate on your various platforms
Above all, show HEART:
Humanize your company. Educate about change. Assure stability. Revolutionize offerings. Tackle the future.
Make the most of your social media channels
Whilst the safety of your staff and customers should be at the forefront of everything you do, that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Find new ways of engaging with your customers on social media to spirits (and engagement) high. That could be in the form of:
- Social Media Giveaways
- Competitions and Promotions
- Facebook Lives and Google Hangouts
- Lockdown Exclusives
Don’t be scared to get creative! Now is better a time than any to break the mold of what your business is used to doing – especially when it comes to your online presence.
Take and provide support where you can
In response to COVID-19 a number of response funds and help for small businesses have been made widely available by the government. Do not run the risk of suffering in silence and accepting defeat – this pandemic affects us all in many different ways as we recently asked some of our own staff. The key is to look out for one another and take help where it’s offered.
Likewise, as you try to look after your own business, it is just as important to offer your support to those around you. Connect with other businesses in your industry, community, or even just down the road. Reach out to partners, engage in joint marketing, make a collaborate effort to get business going again.
Although we can’t be sure of what the next few months will hold, we can certainly be sure that what we do as business leaders to navigate through the pandemic will dictate what happens to us all on the other side of this year. The businesses that are surviving the pandemic arent doing it on a whim, there is strategy, research a level of risk behind every decision made. The key to driving survival is not waiting, analysing or ‘seeing what happens’, it is pushing forwards, making decisive change and being brave.
To find out more about how you can access your own eCommerce strategy through the pandemic, check out our latest guide.