It’s a challenging time in the brick and mortar retail nation, particularly for many small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs). With more and more people staying home, SMBs have seen an almost overnight shift in the way people are shopping.
So how can you address these challenges for your business? Many large retailers are adapting by changing store hours or relying heavily on their online presence. But as an SMB owner, it may seem daunting to switch your business model overnight.
Here are a few tips we’ve rounded up to help you make the transition from brick and mortar to ecommerce. It can be done, and many companies are offering up help.
One approach is to leverage the advantage of your brick and mortar store. Your store is closer to your customers than most ecommerce retailers. Your advantage is that you’ll be able to ship out your products to your regular customers faster than many other ecommerce retailers.
Your Store is Your Distribution Center
You already have the inventory, you know your customers and you know what they need. Use your brick and mortar store as a pickup only center or as your distribution center. Many ecommerce shoppers are already familiar with Buy Online, Pick Up In Store, also known as BOPIS. Your customers will likely appreciate the option to drive by and pick up their orders.
If you’d like to stick to shipping, FedEx, UPS and USPS each are still continuing their services as of now, but keep up to date on new information from each carrier through their websites.
Your Online Store Helps You Sell 24/7
It can help during this uncertain time to keep your store’s options open. By launching an online presence, you’ll open up options for your customers. They’ll be able to shop 24/7 without having to wait for you to open. And you won’t have to spend your time checking customers out or selling your items in person.
Launch Your Online Platform
To start fast, you can begin selling on Facebook.
If you’d like to invest in building out a lasting online presence, you can build your online store pretty quickly on Wix, Squarespace, Shopify or other comparable ecommerce platforms.
We have a step-by-step guide to setting up your store on Shopify here. Plus, Shopify is offering options to help out businesses on Shopify.
- Extended 90-day free trial from the usual 14-day free trial
- This give your store time to transition without worrying about paying for a plan in 2 weeks.
- Local delivery or pickup
- You can set your delivery zone to only your local area so it is visible to your customers within a certain area. If you use Shopify POS, you'll soon be able to offer local pick up in-store as well for your customers.
Keep up to date on these listed above and new information from Shopify here.
To spread the word about your new online presence, think about investing in advertising. Paid ads are a great way to spread the word locally to new customers, but there are also several free ways to advertise.
- Set up a Google My Business page for free.
- Partner with other small businesses to swap spaces on your websites.
- Start an email newsletter to send updates and product announcements to your customers. You can get them to sign up by offering an incentive.
Here’s a resource to get started with paid ads for Facebook, Instagram and Google.
Equip Your Business to Ship
Preparing for your new normal means you might have to change the way you fulfill orders. Your online store will require you to ship out your products to your customers.
We’re here to help.
Use custom shipping boxes as a way to remind your community about your brand. They don’t have to cost much more than plain boxes, and it’s a great way to spread visibility for your brand and keep your brand name on your customers’ minds.
Our plain boxes, mailers and accessories will be ready to ship out within 1-2 business days.
Keep Up to Date on Guidance and Available Loans for SMBs
President Trump announced that the US will allow SMBs to defer paying their taxes for 3 months. He also requested that the Small Business Administration provide low-interest loans to affected businesses.
Keep up to date on resources or news on these subjects here.
As we all navigate this time, we just want to let you know that we are here for you.
Are you a small to medium-sized business or know someone who owns a business during this time? What are some of the issues you’re facing and what tips do you have for other business owners? Let us know so we can compile tips and help spread the word to other businesses. You can reach us on Facebook or Instagram, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re in this together.