When you’re in the middle of a crisis and your business is facing big changes, it’s incredibly difficult to navigate a new way of working. If you are a small business facing temporary closure as we wait for government guidance, the first thing you ask is inevitably going to be, ‘how will I cope?’, or ‘will my business survive this?’.
It’s in every business owners DNA to simply find a way, to do whatever it takes to get through difficult times. I’ve pulled together a list of resources if you are able to take your business virtual, as well as some software recommendations to help you move online.
1. Start building an email database if you haven’t already.
This will be a great way of maintaining brand awareness and staying in touch with your loyal customers. Try these ideas:
- Create an opt-in form to capture customer email addresses to notify them when you reopen, or for general shop updates. You can use a tool like Mailchimp for this, to manage customer data and create email campaigns.
- Offer a discount code to everyone who signs up to your mailing list. This could be redeemable online or in-store when you are able to reopen. This way, people are investing their loyalty and attention with you when money may be tight, but have an incentive to shop with you when the time is right.
2. Take as many products as you can online if you don’t yet have an online shop.
Give your business the best chance of making sales by creating a simple online shopping experience for your customers.
Take high quality photographs of all the stock you wish to sell, making sure you make all of the images the same dimensions to upload to your site. Try to use the same background for each image, and ensure the lighting is bright and neutral.
If you aren’t in a position to start a new e-commerce site, you can make use of Facebook’s shop feature, which allows you to advertise your products both on your Facebook Business page and your Instagram profile.
You could include a voucher with every purchase to be redeemed in store when you are able to reopen, or use their email address (with permission) to add to your mailing list so you can send them future online offers.
3. Maintain your social media content creation.
Create virtual shop tours via Facebook or Instagram Live, or a simple video to upload to your social channels. This will show your customers what’s still available to buy, so you can gift wrap and deliver products to your customers.
4. Become a personal, virtual shopping assistant
Consider offering a 1:1 virtual shopping experience. You can use a service like Acuity Scheduling to ask customers to book a time to have a call with you, so you can meet up virtually and advise them on the perfect gift.
Use a conferencing tool like Zoom or Google Hangouts to facilitate the call, and use video to maintain human interaction.
5. Virtual tip jars for your staff
Create a virtual tip jar for your staff. You can add this as a product to your online shop, or use a site to direct people to such as don8mini.co.uk. Simply set up your business and share the link! You can also use PayPal, Gumroad or Stripe to set up online payments.