Something of a statement of the obvious to say that it is extremely troubling time for local shops, restaurants, hospitality businesses. SimpleShop has been helping a large volume of local retailers without an online presence trade online within an hour or so with minimal fuss. Some businesses have done this on their own, which is great, but many businesses aren't really sure what the first step is, and what they could be doing to shore up cashflow and trade whilst locked down as the online world is somewhat bewildering.
What follows is advice we’ve been giving to offline retailers and hospitality businesses. This has resulted in businesses remaining trading with serviceable cashflow through what is unprecedented time.
All bits of advice are not equally applicable to all businesses, but here are three things that offline businesses can do themselves, without hiring anyone, or spending large amounts of money:
- Set up for online order and delivery
- Offer credit in the form of vouchers for when things get back to normal
- Offer a subscription box (e.g. grocery, care package, alcohol, beauty products, gifting)
The very easiest thing that costs no inventory and about 10 minutes in time is to set up vouchers for credit. Customers can redeem these vouchers when distancing measures are eased. Do not underestimate the loyalty of your customers, many of whom will want to help tide you over during this period. Keep these vouchers open ended so customers feel more comfortable purchasing, and you can be as specific/creative with denominations as you want. E.g. Do you sell a haircut for $17 normally? Offer a $15 voucher for a future haircut. This is the quickest way to get cashflow going.
Online ordering and subscription are in colossal demand and are under supplied, particularly in the food and drink sectors, but also in gifting, cosmetics, and "non-essential" categories in general. Many businesses I work with are doing many multiples of normal volume for the period. Think about bundling inventory together, people are buying in bulk. Can you theme any inventory in a way to make people feel good? Hampers/gift boxes/surprises/thank yous - customers want and need these things right now.
Subscription boxes allow for monthly recurring revenue, which means predictable cashflow and inventory management (as far as supply chains will allow at the moment!).
However, with all of the above, they are singularly dependent on you reaching out to customers and shouting about what you are offering. Email/SMS/phone call. Do not be shy about telling your customers they can buy credit from you - you are exchanging future services to maintain a business that your customers depend on, not begging for a handout. If you are allowing for online delivery/pickup/some kind of subscription, shout loud and proud that you are still open for business.
SimpleShop is an ecommerce website builder and platform. We're the easiest to use, cheapest (free to try for as long as you need, then $14 a month all in), and fairest out there (not to mention friendliest). No commission on sales, no sales or product limits, and no contracts. I have written a small note about how (technically) you can implement these things as/if relevant to your business on our coronavirus business advice page.