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Outliving the pandemic: here are 7 tips for moving your retail business online

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As the health crisis develops daily and social distancing measures differ state to state, small and medium Australian businesses are under pressure to outlive the pandemic.

With our favourite small and large retailers shutting their doors for the foreseeable future, the spike in online shopping has reverberated internationally as shopping precincts and centres lock their doors and consumers spend their days at home.

It is easy to admit defeat as a business owner with trading regulations constantly changing due to COVID-19. While there are numerous challenges every business is facing as we delve into the unknown of the pandemic, there are also ways Australian businesses can capitalise on this time to refresh and renew.

Whether your team are restrategising, developing new products and services or looking to take advantage of changes to consumer behaviour, moving your retail store online is feasible for all SMEs. Setting up your digital business will offer huge sales opportunities as consumers can shop from the comfort of their couch during isolation. Launching your online store will also;

1. Support local business,

2. Contribute to the Australian economy,

3. Allow consumers the freedom to purchase what they are unable to access in a physical store and;

4. Curb boredom due to social isolation.

Digitizing can not only support your business right now, but it will set you up for future success. Online shopping has seen increased popularity over the last decade and will far outlive the re-opening of bricks and mortar retailers post-isolation. Think of this period as a trial phase – an opportunity to put digital trade to the test.

In my line of work, I have seen the positive impacts technology and accessibility has had on both small and large organisations. An online presence will broaden your brand reach, give potential customers access beyond what was once only localised, and often legitimise your company.

I’ve put together seven tips to guide Australian businesses in setting up their online store to trade during COVID-19 and beyond.

Tips for moving your business online:

1. When creating a website, ensure your home page is clear and concise, while still reflecting your branding and key messaging.

2. Ensure your social media accounts are connected to your website, allowing easier navigation between pages, which can often result in growth of sales.

3. Make sure contact information is easily accessible. During this difficult time, it can be confusing for customers who do not often shop online to adapt to digital platforms. Make sure a phone number and email are available for any queries.

4. Provide options for your customers – if you can offer Click & Collect functions, do so. It will allow locals and regulars to come by as they usually would.

5. Ensure you engage with a simple postage and payment service, so customers feel at ease when purchasing. This will also help you when organising orders!

6. Maintain social media presence while staying aware of the current situation. Misinterpreted comments on social media can have lasting negative impacts on your business. Ensure you are contributing to your community while supporting them.

7. Not only can you connect your social accounts, you can also link your eBay, Amazon, and websites together to ensure each platform is run through the same delivery and payment service.

Adapting in the face of adversity has several benefits like showing your customers that your business is resilient, industry longevity and brand recognition. Successful businesses will always look to create solutions when faced with a challenge – it is the difference between a long trading life and a short one. The benefits of adaptability and modernisation will long outlive the current pandemic and its economic repercussions.

Joe McCord is the General Manager at Digital8, a leading full servicing digital agency based in Brisbane offering website and app development, strategy and digital marketing solutions. Digital8 and all-in-one eCommerce platform, Neto, have joined forces to provide Australian retailers the much-needed tools through their COVID-19 Support Pack to get their businesses up and running online during the financial pressures of Coronavirus.

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