How Local Businesses are Thriving Online During Pandemic
Local businesses have been hit especially hard by the commercial restrictions imposed on them by governments in the US, as well as by a general slowdown in commercial activity as people hunker down at home from fear of contagion. Staying afloat has been difficult for these businesses, and yet some have managed to thrive by going online and developing a strong digital strategy, while reducing brick-and-mortar-related expenses. Following are five common themes we have witnessed from businesses in general, and our clients specifically, that have been of great benefit to them as they reinforce their digital presence.
First is creating an inventory of a company’s products and services to determine which ones are best sold offline and which ones online. Physical locations versus ecommerce stores have their strengths and weaknesses that are better suited for selling certain products and services versus others, and dividing inventory according to those strengths and weaknesses will yield more focused marketing campaigns and processes for better effectiveness.
The second theme we have witnessed is that small businesses are better able to outmaneuver big box stores in synchronizing their offline processes with their online ones. Stores can stand out if they offer customers the ability to browse online and then pick-up in-store; buy online and return and exchange in store; or buy online and service offline, for example. Having their ecommerce warehouses and/or staff co-located with their stores makes it easier to have synchronized inventories, purchasing processes, and post-purchase service.
The third theme is creating a strong service-based digital experience that stands out from the competition. Big companies tend to make it difficult for customers to get access to customer service as a way of saving on labor costs by adding virtual receptionists and chatbots without clearly defined exits, and these tend to frustrate customers since the implied message is that the customer’s time, energy, and satisfaction is not important. Small companies tend to have more productive salesforces and can use that as a source of competitive advantage by maintaining high levels of customer service across the board. Having clearly defined direct-dial phone numbers throughout your website; consistently and expertly manned chat boxes; and adding PointerTop’s own cross-interactive service platform CrozTop will allow your company to extend your customer service to your online presence and stand out from the competition.
We have an auto dealership customer whose showrooms were closed for several months due to local pandemic restrictions. The dealership changed strategies by focusing their website and digital marketing strategies on (i) sales of high-margin accessories, while (ii) using CrozTop to visually walk web visitors through their showroom to show off their inventory and book test drives in advance of their reopening. The dealer was able to generate enough cashflow to survive the closings as well as ensure an explosive reopening to get them back on track.
Written by: Jason Junge, CEO of PointerTop