The global coronavirus epidemic, which is forcing people to stay out of their homes, triggers a wave of closing offline businesses. We have done the research and asked several small and medium business owners in the retail, e-commerce, and e-learning industries about their thoughts according to the current world situation. So let’s see what they say and how retail business adapts to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A few words about our opponents:
A – Retailer, sells sea-sports equipment and fishing tackle, has 9 shops in Israel.
B – Co-owner of women ‘s clothes online shop( US).
C – Owner of a retail-marketing agency(US).
D – CEO of the company that supplies and sells groceries( Israel).
E – Owner of the cafe chain( Israel).
It’s almost 2 months since the quarantine was started in Israel and the US, so we asked our clients about the situation they faced in real life.
How does the COVID-19 pandemic affect your business?
A. We have to close all our shops due to quarantine cause we are not familiar with grocery and approved goods.
B. According to the operation – it becomes harder to work with delivery but we are an online shop and the number of orders increases by 30% – so we could keep working)).
C. The situation here is not easy, but we are getting back to normality step by step. Our clients start working – so we have too.
D. We have focused on online sales a lot lately. We have built a well established online shopping site, and we managed to receive special approvals by the governors so our drivers can deliver goods to the houses. This improved online sales, although our retail stores dropped very negatively. Desperate times, desperate measures, but we need to adapt and adjust to every situation…I am already in post corona planning and preparing backup plans for the second wave if God forbid, it happens.
E. I have already closed five cafes from 13. Network revenue fells 85%. 90% of small and medium-sized entrepreneurs – such as myself – will not be able to recover from the virus. And around there all that’s left are funny jokes, memes, and training courses “how to disassemble a quarantined cabinet” and “how not to kill a husband and a child while you are at home.”
So it is the fact that consumers who fear for their health and don’t want to spend much time in public places will become more active in using e-commerce platforms.
The danger of COVID-19 and the need to stay at home for a long time, during working hours, will cause a sharp jump in the pace of development in online communication technologies.
What should small and medium businesses do according to “new rules”?
A. Negotiate installment payments, refuse to participate in risky and unprofitable projects, etc. It may be necessary to reduce the proportion of employees and develop new directions. For catering, obviously – to bet on delivery, etc.
B. Especially for us nothing new, just keep the light on.
C. Search for other sources of income. So, contextual and targeted advertising specialists can save time on setting up advertising by automating routine operations, and advertising agencies can get additional earnings in the form of affiliate rewards of up to 35% of advertising turnover.
D. In our situation many things depend on whom we deliver our groceries, all we could do is postponement for cafes and online sales.
E. My business is one of the most affected during quarantine, after the travel business of course)) We do our best to improve the delivery of our food.
In times of change, people and organizations face questions: what to do in a new situation, how to respond to new events. When the speed of change grows, problems arise more often and each gets more difficult tasks than he can solve. Not keeping up with what is happening, people are experiencing increased stress.
But what happens when the problem can’t be fixed?
A. Any decision made leads to new changes, which in turn creates new difficulties. “Therefore, the more problems we solve … the more we get them.“ And this means that one cannot completely get rid of difficulties!
B. As I said to myself last two months: “Don’t worry be happy”.
C. It is sure that a problem that was not noticed in time will soon turn into a crisis. And this is true. We had to take action earlier.
D. I think we will force absolutely online selling.
E. Maybe I will close the rest of my cafes
Conclusion Remember: not the one who never makes mistakes is successful but the one who knows how to quickly see and correct his mistakes. Use problems as an opportunity, get ready for the crisis in advance.
According to Google research, the online market in 2019 exceeded 1 trillion, and the number of orders in online stores increased by 40%. And this study was done before quarantine and universal migration into digital space. What do you think about it?
A. Since March, we have seen a significant increase in the number of online orders. As of early April, it has almost quadrupled in relation to the average since the beginning of the year.
B. We have a new problem. Now the next question is how to stand out among competitors. The cost of ads on Google and Facebook grows every day because of the big amount of competitors.
C. I think the whole thing is how people are now buying goods – demand as a whole has fallen, but remained. People prefer to save and buy goods cheaper online. We made a huge accent on it in our advertising.
D. The revenue of the surviving online stores, for sure, is also growing due to the “death” of some of their brothers, who have no money for advertising and a good base of regular customers. Now, who works with CRM – could get cheap leads and stay afloat.
E. For us it’s not so good, but we made our online and calling service better in order to be remembered.
From the responses of our customers, we have concluded. With most sales businesses right now, it’s just confused about how to run an online business. Based on the successful experience of many of our colleagues, we want to give some advice:
- Think about the mobile version of the site. Google noted that the mobile version of the site increases conversion from a personal computer (PC). It turned out that users prefer to study and view goods from smartphones or tablets, but they place an order more often from a PC.
- A crucial factor: Organize your business, so that repeat and cross-sales play a big role in it, as channels for customer retention and return (email marketing, call center, SMS marketing, and others) are many times cheaper than channels for attracting new customers. A high proportion of repeat sales and resale of accessories provides higher business profitability and is a significant competitive advantage.
- The newsletters work very well to remind the client about themselves. For the motivation to subscribe, you could provide an onetime discount or free example of your product. It could decrease the cost of lead and help you to increase conversion.
- Select a goods accounting tool and start to accumulate data already at the start. The number of calls, orders, confirmed orders, shipments – these are the numbers that over time will allow you to analyze statistics, correct errors, and make repeated sales. The accounting system will help you collect the data. It could be a good idea to implement it in the early stage of your site development and save money on it.
- Integrate the site with a back office. This is necessary in order to receive relevant data on the availability/goods shipment, and orders – in the accounting. Such a connection between the site and the accounting system will always maintain up-to-date product information on the site, as well as provide an opportunity to collect and analyze all data from it.
- Analyze the product matrix, segmenting goods by profit. The results of the analysis will allow you to understand how much money you can spend on promoting and contextual advertising for each of the groups.
- Analyze your customers. The most “talking” parameters of a client’s analysis are its average check and value. Customer value – this is the total profit from all orders that a typical buyer will make in your store. Knowing it, you should control the cost of attracting new customers – it should be less than the value of the client. Customers can also be segmented by period to see changes in demand and activity depending on the time of year.
- Segment customers according to all the signs that you know about them. Not only gender and geography but also your favorite color, suitable size, purchase history, page views, and others. Segment analysis can give you the opportunity to predict customer needs: customers who matched tastes before will be matched for some time to come. By analyzing which intersections of segments buyers of a product belong to, you can successfully offer these products to other customers from the same intersection of segments. Conversion in such cases will pleasantly surprise you.
- Get yourself a marketing CRM to easily analyze customer segments. Marketing CRM differs from the usual one in that it can automatically build intersections of any groups of customers and send personalized offers through built-in communication channels that few people refuse. Each manifestation of interest on the part of the “recognized” visitor should automatically launch a chain of communications (by email, phone, or SMS) that will bring it to conversion, and similar offers will be sent to similar customers. Keep track of declining loyal customer activity and enable automated customer return and retention scenarios that you suspect might be lost