Tips for taking your business online during COVID-19.
One of the most effective ways businesses can position themselves to survive during the COVID-19 pandemic is to increase their online offering and reach out to customers at home. Below is a brief guide to and resources to help achieve this shift.
Create a Website
A website acts as your digital storefront, attracting customers in and displaying your products in a conveniently organized manner. View Small Business BC’s free Get Online with Shopify webinar and build a basic Shopify store for your business in just three hours. This informative webinar starts with the basics, and leads you through everything from account settings to setting up your payment provider. Need tailored advice? Small Business BC’s Talk to a Website Expert advisory service offers a one-on-one consultation with a website expert.
Build Your Product Catalogue
What products are you planning to sell online? You’ll need to show customers what these products are and what they look like. Digital Main Street have created this useful guide on how to take professional-style product photos with minimal equipment. Next, write simple product descriptions and attributes such as size, colour etc.
Nail Down Your Logistics
Each time a customer purchases a product online, it will need to be picked off the shelf, packaged up and shipped. During COVID-19, additional strain has been placed on Canada Post, meaning some delivery times are longer than usual. Ensure customers are informed of this. Alternatively, if you are only planning on delivering locally it’s advised to look into alternatives such as hiring delivery staff, or delivering yourself if possible.
Keep it Secure
If you’re handling payments online, you’re going to need robust IT security. The risk of damage to business reputation is too great to skimp on security. Make sure your site can encrypt and secure the data being provided by your customers. Many platforms, such as Shopify, have powerful built-in security features that will satisfy this need. Alternatively, speak to Small Business BC’s Technology Operations Expert to assess your options.
Building your online presence is only the first step. Now it’s time to let people know you’re open for business. The good news is, there’s a plethora of online tools – many available for free – to assist. For inspiration on tools to research, read Small Business BC’s article on Digital Marketing Tools for Small Business.
Another great resource is the online Alacrity Digital Marketing Bootcamp. It offers 228 hours of content to help you build your digital marketing skills, as well as access to experienced mentors and connections in the tech sector. Businesses can send one employee free of charge. The bootcamp is open to businesses and employed and unemployed British Columbians, with priority given to employers and individuals impacted by COVID-19. Registration is open until July 31st, 2020, with the course starting on August 4th, 2020.
Unbounce Small Business Care Package
Unbounce have gathered a range of tech company supports available to small businesses looking to transition online. Refer to their Small Business Care Package to find free resources, offers and deals that will help reduce the cost of transitioning online.
Canada Post Shipping Solutions
Canada Post's Think Small Program supports small businesses with offers and incentives, including shipping discounts. Until July 31, 2020, small businesses can receive discounts and savings on regular rates for shipping in Canada, as well as additional savings on local shipments.