What the businesses had to face and go through during the COVID-19 to keep existing.
Maya Odeh Growth Marketing & User acquisition Leader
When COVID-19 hit the globe, every industry was severely affected by it. Be it restaurants, clothing stores, accessory stores, etc., everyone started struggling for existence. This was tough for all business owners but was the worst for the small and medium scaled business owners. In mid-April, last year research carried out by Facebook and Small Business Roundtable it was discovered that about one-third of the small businesses had to stop functioning. It was predicted that 25–30 percent of small businesses might have to be closed down permanently due to the adverse effects of the pandemic.
But there was an option. The internet. When the pandemic started to outbreak throughout the world, the businesses were experimenting the online platforms. Some were serious about it and some weren’t. Due to the budget constraints most of the small businesses preferred for brick and motor over the internet. But they had to jump in the boat as they had no option. Back in 2019 little less than 40% of the micro enterprises had a website at least. The small businesses started to explore the major online platforms and some even started their own e-stores.
The truth is they had to swim with the sharks in their fight for survival. How? The large enterprises who were the market leaders were established with their online presence prior to the pandemic era. They had their own online stores, they had their own delivery systems and they were partnered with world’s best. The businesses have to focus on many aspects to make themselves ready in their face-off with the large corporations.
- Making contactless delivery available.
- Learning new skills to support the changes of the entire business model.
- Marketing & Advertising plans and strategies.
- Introducing new revenue streams.
- Implementing new technologies to the business.
- Using safety measures.
Above are a few of the challenges that need to be addressed while going online with the businesses and the question is how many of them are even applicable and practical for small businesses. For example, the larger corporations can introduce hand sanitizers which are in high demand. But can the small businesses afford it? Large enterprises can somehow manage their own delivery services. But is it the same for small businesses? No, the playground is not even in the journey to establish a successful online business.
Here is what Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had to say. “We’re seeing a lot of businesses that never had online presences get online for the first time, and we’re seeing small businesses that had an online presence now make them their primary way of doing business,”. Just having your business available on the internet is not enough to generate the businesses and the word of mouth. You have to advertise on popular platforms. For a small business to stay afloat during these days they need access to capital. Why? Online marketing is necessary as all these platforms are giving priority to those who spend their bucks and advertise. The advertising budget of Levi’s for 2020 was approximately 331.4 million. McDonald’s spent 654.7 million within the same year on advertising. But can a local clothing store spend this much for their online advertising campaigns? Or can a local restaurant invest as much as McDonald’s? The million dollar worth question is, is the playing field fair when it comes to Google, Facebook, Instagram, Yelp, etc.
Advertising online is not merely not sufficient to generate sales for your small business. You need to have an interactive and a responsive website. If it’s not responsive the bounce rate is going to be high and you will lose potential customers. It is the big companies who are leading the way when it comes web design trends and responsive websites.
Here is what Joshua Stemle wrote to the Forbes magazine. “Getting a responsive website should be your number one online goal unless you don’t depend on your website to stay in business or you have no competitors.” For the small businesses it is very important to appear on the smartphones. More than 94% of the smartphone users are looking for the local stores. When they find one, more than 84% are taking an action. It could be purchasing or contacting the business as well. More than 46% of the smartphone users have bought something via the device. Another thing is that having a responsive website contributes a lot to SEO as well. Better SEO means you organically discoverable for many. The large corporations who are having a higher domain authority and a page authority for their websites are usually leading the search results. And above all, those websites are well established. For the small businesses who are relatively new to the online world, it is extremely tough to beat the large enterprises at the search results no matter what the niche is.
For the small businesses they will have face so many delivery challenges to face their giant competition: large organizations. They will have to make sure that the packaging is right. The last thing they want during these tough times is losing customer over damaged products. Choosing a reputed and a trust worthy delivery partner is another challenge.
This is the “Amazon Prime” age and the consumers are demanding quicker deliveries than ever. Especially for the millennials, the unboxing experience matters a lot. And the established brands with hundreds of positive feedback are well aware of these and they have been doing it for years. The small businesses will have to replicate that. Out of the thousands of options, the consumers are having, the small businesses find it difficult to stand out from their massive competition. But that is what they exactly have to do. Since the pandemic erupted, the small businesses have taken a huge blow, and looking at the current situation, “online” seems the new normal.