Covid-19 case numbers are rising, and not just in Canada. European countries are starting to follow suit, with France and Germany making headlines this week. With people spending more time indoors, working remote, and taking fewer precautions, the trend is not likely to be reversed. Governments will soon have to start considering how to handle the situation.
While most governments have promised to avoid further full lockdowns, they may take incremental measures that eventually come to resemble them. And business will be wise to buckle up for another round of restrictions.
So what lessons can they draw from the rare successes of the first series of lockdowns? What tips are there for small businesses that desperately need to stay afloat?
Take it online now, while there is time to test it out
The most important step is to have an online option available. This will be crucial if lockdowns are imposed completely again, and helpful even under partial restrictions. Whether it means creating an online consulting business for telemedicine or just signing up to have your food delivered with a third-party app, it might save your hide.
Take Rritual, whose functional mushroom supplements were hoping to hit stores next year. While they are still pursuing big brand store contracts, they have recalibrated to focus on the potential for digital sales with both an online store, and their own news app to keep clients interested and up to date on the entire industry. Positioning themselves as a leader in the space.
If a full lockdown is declared, online options will give you a lifeline to keep revenue flowing. Doing so now, even before it is necessary, means getting a leg up over your competitors, ironing out any kinks in your plan, and getting your customers used to interacting with you digitally.
Even if the restrictions that end up being imposed are milder than the first time around, customers will be increasingly wary and scarce for in-person interactions. Not to mention each one puts you and your employees at risk. An online axis will give you a competitive advantage, one which might even last long after the pandemic.
Building up your online presence has long term benefits
The world is increasingly digital, and virtually all industries are now subject to the forces of social media and online opinion. The pandemic could be a great moment to seize some of that momentum for yourself. If you are the one gym whose online classes stand out from the rest during the lockdown, you can bet that your recruitment and retention numbers will be going up faster when we come out of it.
The digital world is also the future for many businesses, whether we like it or not, and being on the cutting edge of that transition is likely to pay off. Potentially big time.
Take the telehealth industry, a cottage industry before the pandemic, Covid-19 catapulted it into the spotlight and growth has been exponential. Now business leaders are talking about how it may revolutionize the entire sector, and lower health care costs long after the pandemic has been overcome. There is no doubt that the first to jump on board that trend will be some of the biggest winners.
Stronger online presence could also help you in unexpected ways. In Napa Valley of California, which is barely recovering from its worst wild-fire ever, the wineries with an online following and presence are seeing far better recovery from both the pandemic, and the fires impact on tourism. Wine delivery services have also sparked, and innovative companies with digital solutions will be reaping the benefits.
Not everyone can be leading a digital revolution in alternate reality tech. Even if you work in an industry that cannot be taken online completely—or at all—there is merit in having a digital edge. Merits that will persist in terms of customer loyalty, client contact, and marketing; the pandemic might help you launch that social media presence you have been talking about for years.
Hope for the best, Plan for the worst
So while governments, news, and just about everyone are determined to avoid a new lockdown, we shouldn’t shove our heads in the sand either. Taking your business to the net now could give you an edge, and waiting until it’s too late could cost you everything. Who knows, maybe your idea will spark another step in the global digital revolution. But, even if it doesn’t, it might just save your bacon.
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