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How Businesses Can Overcome COVID-19: Lessening the Impact, Available Funding Options, and New Goals for an Online World

What Business Owners Can Do to Lessen the Impact of COVID-19

1. Improve Your Digital Marketing Strategy

Improving your digital marketing strategy is now important more than ever as thousands of people are turning to online shopping for their necessities.

The first step is to create your own website using popular eCommerce platforms such as Wix, Shopify, BigCommerce, Squarespace, Magento, or even Facebook or Instagram. If you already have a website, don’t forgo redesigning it to ensure that it’s more user and mobile-friendly.

Make it smarter as customers nowadays are quickly adapting to the digital lifestyle. Apart from your products, the main thing your customer would look for is how smooth the transaction will be.

View your website in the eyes of your customer and ask a few questions such as: can I easily browse through products and quickly place them in my cart? Is the information on the products up to date? Are out of stock items indicated? Are there announcements on when these will be re-stocked?

There are a lot of things to consider when overhauling your website and adding too many features might make it too noisy rather than helpful (such as repetitive newsletter invites or auto-play videos). Just remember that if there’s already significant demand, your ultimate goal is to complete the buying process in one quick and smooth transaction to prevent the customer from looking somewhere else.

Apart from your website, recalibrate your digital marketing strategy by redirecting ad spend and investing in paid social strategies for Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube, and Google paid search.

2. Exploring Alternative Fulfillment Channels

It’s crucial for sellers to widen their reach and redirect their efforts to alternative channels while waiting on Amazon to lift restrictions. This includes selling on other popular marketplaces such as Walmart, eBay, and even your own website, or – if previously accepted into the Seller Fulfilled Prime (SFP) program – converting listings from FBA to FBM if you’re able to fulfill and ship orders on your own or via a 3PL company.

3. Exploring Available Coronavirus Financing Options

The US Small Business Administration (SBA) makes it easier for small business owners to access capital. Benefits of SBA-guaranteed loans include competitive terms, counseling through some loans that offer continuous support and guidance, and unique benefits such as lower down payments, flexible overhead requirements, and no required collaterals.

Apart from the SBA’s traditional funding programs, the CARES Act that provides $376 billion in COVID-19 economic relief funds includes several temporary programs which sellers can consider:

  • Paycheck Protection Program which provides loan forgiveness for retaining employees by temporarily expanding the traditional SBA 7(a) loan program;
  • EIDL Loan Advance that provides up to $10,000 of economic relief to businesses experiencing temporary difficulties due to the pandemic;
  • SBA Express Bridge Loans that enables small businesses who currently have a relationship with SBA Express Lender immediate access up to $25,000; and
  • SBA Debt Relief which provides financial reprieve to small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What Sellers Should Start Considering for their Brand’s Future Success in eCommerce

1. Product Diversification

Ensuring smoother transactions with your eCommerce store isn’t just about a great user interface or what marketplace you prefer. What you sell – during this recession and after it – also matters. According to Sellics, groceries and home basics remain as the #1 online shopping trend across major countries during the COVID-19 pandemic, with meat and seafood (173%), canned, jarred, and packaged foods (101%), and breakfast food (40%) as notable US sub-categories.

Say for example a customer was looking to do their grocery shopping online – if Online Stores A and B were offering the same meat and seafood products but store B also offered canned goods and breakfast food – then we can assume the customer would prefer to purchase from store B to save on delivery fees and waiting times.

Apart from grocery and household essentials, also consider expanding under sports, toys, and entertainment products and services as some wants will soon turn into needs. The longer quarantine periods hold, the more customers will look into activities that can keep them busy at home.

Another thing to consider is to offer discounts and promotions, especially for non-essential items and services. In the midst of the 2008 recession, Groupon was able to rise to success by sending out discount emails that encouraged customers to spend on and enjoy non-essential, leisure activities. Moreover, online stores can get creative and bundle non-essential products with essential products – such as travel luggage with food items, household products with large appliances, athletic wear with fitness accessories, etc.

2. Investing in AI

Due to financial constraints, Artificial Intelligence (AI) might not be a priority right now for most small to medium businesses. Businesses in the post-COVID-19 future, however, will greatly benefit from AI as a way to get ahead of competitors in a new online-focused world. Apart from improving customer experience, AI helps to quickly predict trends, analyze, and classify big data – allowing retailers more time to change product mixes, update inventory, rebrand, recalibrate marketing strategies, and more to increase sales. If it isn’t already obvious how AI is effective in moving businesses forward in the digital age, simply observe how Amazon has been using AI tech over the recent years to become the largest online retailer in the world.

Early AI adopters like Amazon are experts… using data to make on-point recommendations. As the customer journey becomes more complex with multiple devices playing a role and options like in-store pickup vs. shipping in the mix, AI can capture and manage that data, too, creating personalized recommendations for all customers.

Geof Watts, CEO of EDITED

With AI, business owners will be able to come up with the best possible strategies for reviving their businesses as the technology can predict what markets across industries and locations could look like post-COVID-19.

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