There isn’t a person on the planet that isn’t looking forward to the end of the COVID-19 outbreak that turned the whole world upside down. From nationwide lockdowns to social distancing, epidemiological measures have hit multiple industries hard.
Tourist and hospitality services were especially affected, as countless franchises were forced to migrate their business online. Although necessary, this migration is everything but easy.
When a business offers services, then it’s far easier to move it online. However, selling goods in person and online are basically two different business models. One aspect of this dichotomy is storage space. Brick and mortar stores have limited storage space but an online store needs to offer more products, so it requires more storage space.
Migrating your business online, however, does imply that the selection of products should increase or even remain the same. Quite the contrary, you need to downsize your business in terms of versatility. Storage space isn’t cheap neither to rent nor to buy, so decrease the number of items that can be ordered. Once your logistics network is up and running, you can start adding back items one by one.
Back in the day, sellers used to arrive at the marketplace before the break of dawn to occupy the best spot. It might seem silly, but moving into the cybersphere works on pretty much the same principle. You need to decide where you are going to sell in order to attract the biggest number of potential customers.
There are hundreds of thousands of e-commerce marketplaces, such as Amazon or eBay where you can list your goods for a fee. The alternative is to set up your own online shopping platform or at least launch a website to market your wares.
After you go online, your regular shoppers should know where to find you. Just like you would advertise a new store in the real world, you need a bit of online marketing. Apart from a paid campaign, you need to update relevant info on your Google My Business account.
The website’s URL is the single most important input that will enable your business to appear in Google search results. What Google Maps were to your offline store, Google My Business will be for your online shopping platform.
Stores like to organize various events in front of their shop windows to attract customers. Entrepreneurs mostly enjoy organizing these events as they get a chance to be creative. Just because you are migrating your business online, this doesn’t mean that you will never organize a single event.
Quite the contrary, virtual events are more popular in the time of coronavirus than ever, paradoxically. Unlike handing out leaflets in front of the store, you have the option to hire professional virtual events services to help you organize a seminar or shoot a commercial. The advantage of virtual events is that you get accurate feedback, such as the exact number of attendees.
If you thought that mailing lists were a thing back in the 1990s and 2000s, you are wrong, as they are still popular today. Feel free to draft a circular e-mail to notify your loyal customers that you have taken the business online: they will be glad to receive such an e-mail. The e-mail addresses of your customers can be collected through a poll or a giveaway program.
From the standpoint of a marketer, social media platforms such as Instagram or Twitter are spaces for free advertising. All you really need to invest is excellent content that would engage potential shoppers. Besides the e-commerce section, i.e. a virtual store, the website should feature links or previews of your social media profiles.
The number of social media networks you open an account on is less important than the quality of the content posted and the frequency of posting. Social media profiles need to be updated regularly; otherwise, you will hurt your brand’s image. This can occur if the quality of textual and visual content is below par.
Wouldn’t it be great if Benedict Cumberbatch’s or Keira Knightley’s face appeared on a promo poster for your franchise? You are highly unlikely to get such famous people to promote your logo but moving online means that you can always team up with an influencer.
Don’t worry if you don’t know any social media influences, as a bit of research of your target audience should reveal who your customers trust the most. They can promote your product subtly or directly, whatever you agree on.
Finally, you need to make sure the change doesn’t take too long or disrupts business deals. Namely, you cannot afford to shut down the business offline and then prepare for the online relaunch. These two processes need to be simultaneous, if nothing else, then to tell your trusted clients in person that you are moving the biggest portion of your business online.
The coronavirus outbreak is as much as a health challenge, as it is an economical test for the whole world. Since migrating your business online isn’t optional, you need to make sure the move goes as smoothly as possible.
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