The world is reeling from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, as governments scramble to contain the threat and people struggle with the “new normal” - a combination of social distancing, event cancellations and economic insecurity.
It’s no surprise that businesses are suffering. We’ve seen the impacts on the retail and hospitality sectors, as they rely heavily on physical customers in-store. As a small business too this worries us, and yet we feel helpless to do anything.
We realised that there is one thing we can do to help, in our own small way. Sharing our knowledge and expertise is one thing we can do to help arm our local SMBs with the tools to help them come through this unprecedented situation.
The result is this: we’ve put together an action plan; a series of simple, actionable steps that you can start on today to make a difference in your business. This is general advice (and specific solutions will vary from business to business), but it contains a range of achievable DIY solutions that can help most retail and hospitality businesses.
We’ve come up with a set of simple action points covering the “Three S’s - Store, Social and Search”:
The coronavirus pandemic is creating different challenges for retailers. Some are being overwhelmed by panic buying and the problems this causes in-store (supply chain issues, empty shelves, customer stress). Other retailers are experiencing lower customer volumes, as people switch to stocking up on food and essentials.
The key to increasing customer confidence is to make your in-store experience as safe as possible. Retailers can also provide alternative options such as phone or online shopping – with home delivery where this is feasible.
As this crisis slowly unfolds over the coming weeks and months, people will still need to shop, meet with friends and share experiences in public spaces. By making the in-store experience safe as possible you will give people the confidence to visit your store.
Here’s what you can do:
For more information, please refer to the Australian government’s resources below:
If possible, sell your products through an online store. This allows your customers to support you without having to visit your physical store. Here are some things you can think about in terms of shifting your business operations online (or increasing your current online revenues) while the coronavirus crisis unfolds.
Need some help getting started? Shopify has a fantastic online tutorial, with step by step instructions showing how to set up your online store:
Another option is to set up a home delivery service that doesn’t require in-store visits. Uber Eats and Menulog are a great way for restaurants and cafes to deliver food to customers. You could also partner with a local courier or do your own deliveries to fulfil orders.
Here’s some more information about home delivery options that you can explore:
Uber Eats Earn Money by Driving or Get a Ride Now
Menulog Partner with us
Local courier A & J Couriers
Your existing customers are the greatest opportunity for future business growth. They already love and support you, and will advocate for your business in this time of need. Keep the communication going over social media, and don’t be afraid to ask for their help.
Now is a great time to increase the number of social media posts you are doing, to engage with your customer base. Recognise that even if they are unable to visit your store, they are still valued customers who want to know how you are doing.
Need some tips to help get better social media engagement? HubSpot knows their stuff:
People are feeling uncertain right now, so it’s important to make sure they have the information they need to feel empowered and in control. Communicate with your audience about coronavirus related changes and how it is impacting your business.
Your customers want to know what is going on and you can reassure them by letting them know what is happening. Don’t be afraid to show vulnerability, or to let them know if things are difficult right now. They’ll appreciate that you’re keeping it real.
Need help with sensitive messaging? Check out this HootSuite article on using social media in times of crisis:
As our shopping circles get smaller, it makes sense to promote your business and initiatives to the local community. If your audience has a persistent need for what you’re offering at this time, it might be wise to invest in small-scale targeted advertising to promote your products and services.
Here are some links to help you get started:
So you’ve helped make the in-store experience safer for your customers, and you’ve engaged with your existing customers. With the economic outlook still uncertain, it’s the perfect time to find new customers – or more accurately, to help them find you.
With reduced foot traffic and less casual shopping in person, there will be an increase in online search activity, as those people who may have just have “popped down to the shops” at any other time choose instead to look online for the things they need.
You’ll want people to be able to easily find your business when they are searching for your product or service. This is always important, but in this time of upheaval it will become of even greater importance – especially for retailers who are seeing a decline.
Search engine optimisation is highly complex and can take a long time to deliver results, so we have chosen here to focus on a small handful of actions that can be implemented right away, and will deliver immediate results.
Create, claim or update your business location in Google My Business.
Google My Business records populate Google Maps, and are prioritised in standard desktop search when people are searching topics with a local element. A complete and well-optimised Google My Business record will position you at the top of local search queries.
Here’s where you can get started with Google My Business:
Another easy thing to do is to review and improve the content on your website homepage, with consideration for the search terms people use to find your business. The homepage is most likely to be the main page on your website that ranks highly in Google, and your rankings can benefit from some improvements to homepage content.
This is much easier than it sounds. Here’s a beginners guide to get you started:
If there is a persistent need for your products and services, then it might also be worthwhile to initiate a Google Ads campaign that attracts new customers. This is something that you can do yourself, in a reasonably short space of time.
Find out more on how to get started with Google Ads, with the links below:
Doing something positive now can help make a difference, even when times are tough. These are the top tips we’d share with any businesses who are looking to meet the challenges posed by the coronavirus crisis. They are practical, actionable changes you can make today.
Proactive steps forward – even small ones – help us navigate situations where it feels like a lot of things are out of our control. Your community knows you are hurting, and they want to support you. They will rally around you, and we will get through this together.
Download our Google Ads PDF to see the full details of our three most popular packages, including package levels, pricing, and features.
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