How to move your business online during COVID-19 shutdown
While the COVID-19 epidemic is spreading all over the planet, many countries have enforced a shutdown of unnecessary services. In these difficult times, more and more companies are thinking out of the box and moving their activities online. You've thought about it yourself but you don’t know where to start? This post gives you an overview of how you can keep on offering your services.
Moving online? For which businesses?
Restaurants & bars
As we all know, restaurants, cafés and bars all around the globe are forced to close their doors for an unlimited period. Many of them have already chosen to offer delivery services. If you are the owner of a restaurant in an urban area, you can sign up to food delivery companies. Such delivery companies will charge you with delivery fees for each order, but some of them are currently doing special offers to support businesses, reducing their fees. If you live in a more rural area not covered by such companies, you might want to consider creating your own website and taking delivery orders directly from there.
Another cool idea is to offer your clients gift cards or vouchers. They can buy them now on your website, and use them later, when your place will open again. Sydney bar the Golden Gully has reacted to the current situation by launching their virtual bar, and is remaining very successful without even opening its doors. It offers cocktails/wine/beer for pickup and delivery, tasting sessions via video chat apps, and even online cooking lessons for 60$ AUD.
Clothing, jewelry & cosmetics stores
You sell clothes, jewels or makeup? Whatever the size of your business, you should definitely invest in an e-commerce strategy. Niche clothes or jewelry brands and big brands alike already have an e-commerce platform on their website or a presence on a third-party e-commerce website.
During these times when you cannot have direct contact with your customers, you could even offer remote advice sessions. Whether it’s helping them finding the perfect shirt or the right moisturizer for their skin type, this can be done remotely. For example, Chinese cosmetics company Lin Qingxuan had to close almost half its stores during the COVID-19 crisis. The company reassigned its beauty advisors from those stores to become social media influencers and connect with customers virtually to drive online sales. As a result, its sales in Wuhan (centre of the Chinese epidemy where the company had to lock down its stores) achieved 200% growth compared to the previous year.
By putting effort into your e-commerce strategy, you will depend less on physical retail, even once the shutdown is over. Online retailing allows you to have an easier access to the market, as well as reduce overheads.
Gyms, personal trainers
Most gyms, personal trainers and yoga/fitness instructors are offering online sessions.
Whether it’s paying collective or personal courses, lives on Instagram or free workouts on YouTube, a growing number of sports professionals are offering their services online. You might not necessarily achieve Yoga with Adriene’s success with her 6.5M subscribers on YouTube, but virtual online classes could help you retain your customers, and maybe gaining new ones. During this crisis, everyone is trying to stay fit and (somewhat) active while staying home, which means there is a good business opportunity for you there.
Hairdressers, makeup artists, nail salons
Now, you might think this is impossible. Obviously, you won’t be able to give a haircut to your clients remotely, but it doesn’t mean that you cannot keep on sharing your expertise. Several salons have already put into place videoconferencing sessions to give personalized advice to their clients, like how to apply your hair dye yourself at home, or giving makeup courses. You can also propose a product shipping service to your customers, such as their choice of dye, brush and mixing bowl, towel, gloves, foils and detailed instructions on application.
Paris-based hairstylist Frédéric Birault is sharing Instagram tutorials to cut your own hair at home. You can create video content on how to do your nail art like a pro from the comfort of your own home, and ship some DIY kits.
While these tips might not create instant revenue for you, they will help create a sense of community with your clients during this time. Another option is to offer coupons to buy now and use later. We all know we’re impatiently waiting for our next haircut and manicure!
Music, art, language teachers
Whether you are helping people learn a new language or play an instrument, it’s essential for them to practice regularly. If you want to keep on supporting your clients during this time, you can do so by offering remote classes. Video chat applications allow you to easily teach your online class. Build your website and let your students know you're available via these apps.
Allegro Musique, a French music lessons platform, is offering remote classes instead of its usual at-home classes, with a 50% discount in the form of tax reduction. Language course provider Speakid is proposing online workshops for children, sharing their events on Facebook. While the workshop is free, you can support them by donating money.
During these difficult times, some people might be struggling with fear and anxiety more than usual. For this reason, a number of psychologists are offering their patients to have phone sessions. In France, Doctolib (the consultation management software) offers video appointments during the pandemic. The same goes for Luxembourg with Doctena. Thanks to a secure link accessible only by the patient and the doctor, confidentiality and security are respected. Let your patients know you are moving online by creating your own website and communicating about your updated working hours during this crisis.
Universities & schools
Many colleges and universities around the world have moved their classes online. Whether it’s by sharing presentations with their students, professors recording their classes or using online learning platforms.
The last few weeks have seen an explosion of offers from e-learning platforms such as Udemy and Coursera. To limit the impact of university shutdowns on students during this sanitary crisis, Coursera announced that any university in the world closing its doors can receive free access to most of its online courses.
A new page on Coursera’s website encourages users to “take student learning online in response to coronavirus.” Each institution can benefit from 5,000 licenses to the website’s catalog of 3,800 courses across 400 subjects.
Lawyers, accountants & insurers
Numerous lawyers, insurance companies or accountants have moved their in-person appointments online. Some have also put in place a hotline or a platform for clients to share their documents. For legal reasons, some offices remain open and clients can access mailboxes to drop documents without entering in contact with employees.
One good trick for such professionals is to add an FAQ to their website, to answer the most common questions from their clients. For lawyers, your clients might want to know if they should attend their court hearing, how to witness wills remotely, etc. Also don’t forget to update your working hours, so your clients know when they can reach out to you.
How do I move online?
Depending on whether you only need to open an online shop to sell items, or you need your own website to advertise your business, there are several options.
Create your own website
Your website will be the main advertising platform for your business. Present your products & services (as mentioned above, maybe you’ll have to transform your current offer and think out of the box to keep your clients engaged), share information such as working hours, contact details, have an FAQ page specially related to COVID-19, etc.
With EuroDNS, you can create your own website very simply, whether it’s to sell your products, start a food delivery service or give your customers an overview of the classes you offer and integrate a booking platform.
- Choose a domain name. What’s a domain name? It’s essentially your web address. Domain names can include your company name, your brand, or your product. Think about the perfect extension to represent your business: .restaurant, .yoga, .legal, .shop, etc.
- Choose your WordPress package. With our managed WordPress package, you will enjoy the comfort of having the most used content management system in the world without the need to worry about updates, security and loss of data. In April, we are offering 1 month of managed WordPress for free. All our WordPress packages include a free email address to complete your professional look online.
Become a vendor on Amazon MarketPlace
If you want your products to be seen by a wide range of customers, you might want to consider getting an account on Amazon Marketplace. Depending on the number of items you’re planning on selling, you can opt either for an individual or a professional account.
Be aware that Amazon has announced that, in some countries, it will deliver only essential items, regardless of what it has in stock. For this reason, it may be preferable to be a 3rd party seller during this crisis, rather than sell your stock to Amazon. In this way, the storing, packaging, and shipping will remain in your control.
Sell on Ebay
As an alternative to Amazon, there is also Ebay. Although it counts almost 2 times fewer users than Amazon, it also charges smaller fees. On average, sellers on Ebay make around 5% more benefits than on Amazon. The subscription/sales fees vary depending on the product category. An important drawback of Ebay is that it has no shipping service, as opposed to Amazon’s FBA (Fulfilled by Amazon). It means that you will have to store, pack and ship all your items yourself. Depending on how many items you’re planning on selling, this might be problematic. Client support is also limited and cannot deal with a high number of requests.
Create an online store on Etsy
Etsy is an American e-commerce website selling handmade or vintage items. It’s the perfect place to sell your handmade jewelry or vintage clothes. Etsy offers a simple and esthetically pleasing design for your store. You will have to pay fees for every item you sell, but it also gives you access to statistics about your shop’s performance to help you increase your sales.
Be on social media
Being successful online requires you to also have a presence on social media. It will give your business some visibility and will help you create a community with your customers and engage with them. Whether it’s through Facebook, Instagram or YouTube, keep your customers updated about your class schedule, share your latest workout, your updated menu or your newest piece of clothing for sale.
You can also leverage social media ads services to better promote your new way of making business. Facebook allows you to run your own campaigns using simple self-service tools, and to track their performance with easy-to-read reports.
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