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The COVID-19 pandemic has completely changed our normal way of doing business. Orders that stay in place have resulted in stores closing their doors in many states. Other companies are unable to fulfill shipments due to supply chain disruptions.
Even for companies that are still open, business is largely in decline as more and more people try to stay at home to curb the spread of COVID-19. In fact, Quartz reports that pedestrian traffic in retail stores decreased 97.6 percent year over year.
Needless to say, it is a time of turmoil, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that do not have the cash reserves of larger companies. Despite all the uncertainties at this time, there are still things you can do to keep your business alive.
1. Keep your customers up to date.
With so much uncertainty, your customers will wonder what changes they make in their daily operations. You may need to close your brick-and-mortar store or reduce working hours to give employees time to renovate your facility. There may be delays in the execution of online orders.
Regardless of your operational changes, many people will understandably be concerned about placing an order or coming into your store because of concerns about getting the corona virus. This makes proactive communication about changes or preventive measures that you take a must.
Most retailers have now added COVID-19 notifications at the top of their home page highlighting changes. Others use email lists and social media profiles to spread the word. AdAge finds that brands from Southwest Airlines to Quibi have increased social media advertising spend, which increases daily impressions by up to 40 percent. Proactive communication can reassure customers and help them remember your brand.
Related: How Your Business Can Survive (And Grow) After The COVID-19 Crisis
2. Consider new products to replace unavailable services.
If you can no longer offer your customers your traditional services, the development of replacement products could prove to be the key to maintaining a revenue stream.
Online coaching, courses and tutorials, video series and e-books are just a few of the digital products you can offer to keep in touch with customers and increase sales if you can't sell your typical products or services. Think creatively. Not only will such ideas keep you afloat now – they could continue to generate revenue once business returns to normal.
3. Move your focus online as much as possible.
Even if you already offer products and services online, now is the time to be aware of how you can minimize personal interactions to further slow down the spread. Many companies have switched to Zoom and other video calling tools so that meetings that were previously held in person can be held digitally.
Small brick-and-mortar retailers who rely on pedestrian traffic to move products need to consider digital workarounds, especially in areas where government mandates have closed their doors. If you deliver locally or pick up at the side of the road, you can still make sales if the revenue may otherwise disappear completely.
Many grocers and large retailers such as Best Buy and Dick & # 39; s Sporting Goods have drastically shifted their business to emphasize roadside pickup. USA Today sales of roadside pickups have increased 87 percent year over year. Such changes can be a logistical challenge, but they protect customers and employees.
Related topics: 4 strategies to help your company recover from corona virus
4. Pay attention to how you manage expenses.
With revenue declining for many SMEs, managing cash flow has never been so important. While the small business loan provided by the stimulus package can certainly be helpful, entrepreneurs should pay more attention to inventory and project management, re-evaluate their current funding options, and review fixed and variable costs.
An analysis by Deloitte recommends: "In times of uncertainty, it is generally a good idea to exchange fixed costs for variable costs wherever you can. This will help you maintain your core business while increasing your flexibility on the side." Selling and then re-letting assets is one way to collect emergency money. You may also want to expand the use of practices such as contract manufacturing, transportation fleet leasing, and third-party storage. "
Regardless of whether you cut variable expenses or take out a loan, it is important to consider the immediate and long-term impact of these decisions on your finances. It is critical to survive the next few months, but you don't want to make a decision that will significantly affect your business and cash flow later.
Navigate in an uncertain future.
At present, it doesn't seem like how long the COVID-19 pandemic will disrupt our way of life, but the simple truth is that things will get better at some point. Proactive companies that are adapting to this “new normal” are best equipped to weather the storm and will be in a stronger position once the pandemic has finally subsided.