We’re all facing unique challenges right now as the fight against COVID-19 continues across Australia. For business owners, the stakes are particularly high as the Australian business community battles through some of the toughest economic conditions since the Global Financial Crisis.
Notwithstanding this, the speed and agility with which we’ve seen many businesses pivot to adopt new technology, expand sales channels and even take on production of new products and services to better serve their communities, has been remarkable.
At Square, we build tools that help businesses start, run and grow. From payments and invoicing, to employee management, data analytics and more. However, as the business world has been encouraged to follow new social distancing guidelines and reduce any unnecessary in-person contact, the services we have seen most in demand over recent weeks is eCommerce.
Businesses are moving quickly to take their operations online, in fact the number of people signing up to Square Online Store more than doubled in March, compared to the month prior. From coffee shops and fine dining restaurants, to hair salons, toy stores and nurseries, more businesses are engaging online channels to help keep them trading.
Here are a few things you can implement in your business right now to help you keep cash flow steady in these uncertain times.
Start an online store
Fortunately, starting an online store has never been simpler and don’t worry, you don’t need to know how to code. With our site builder you can access basic templates or choose to create a customised online store experience.
You can choose everything from the domain name and typeface, to imagery and brand colours. Square Online Store also syncs with orders, item libraries and inventory lists, so that you can provide your customer’s with a seamless experience, just like if they were visiting your store in person. As soon as you’re finished tweaking, you can publish your store quickly and your site will work on any device.
Accepting orders online
No matter what kind of business you run, with Square Online Store’s site builder you can create an online ordering page that allows you to provide curbside pickup or local delivery.
The online ordering page automatically integrates with Square’s point-of-sale app too, so if you’re also taking payments over the phone or in store, you can see all your sales in one place.
Promote digital gift cards
Electronic gift cards are also a great way to help increase cash flow while your business is closed or affected by social distancing. Square Online Store allows customers to set up a free ordering page to sell digital gift cards to customers.
The page also enables customers to purchase eGift Cards online and send them to a recipient of their choice via email. Once the order page is live, you can promote it through your own website, social channels or email, and the gift cards can be redeemed in store or online.
Will it work for my business?
The beauty of an online store is that it can work for all types of businesses.
Retail — If you’re a retail business, you can provide online shoppers with the choice of picking up items in person with a curbside pickup, requesting local delivery, or having their orders shipped out to them. You can also print shipping labels and packing slips easily from the app.
Restaurants — Diners can order and pay online and pick up their orders in person, at the curbside, or have them delivered to their door. With an online store, you can manage all your orders in one place, accept them, and automatically notify your customers by email when they’ll be ready. The order ticket is also generated automatically so your kitchen staff can prepare for prompt delivery or customer pickup.
Services — An online store can also be used to book appointments for services that can be delivered remotely, like consultations or tutorials. You can also accept payments through the site, and even offer gift cards to customers for future services.
While being online might not be the most familiar place to do business for everyone, there is plenty of technology available to help to make this transition easier, so that you can still serve your customers.
To help, we’re also waiving subscription fees for Square Online Store, along with the curbside pickup and delivery features, for all businesses for the next three months. We don’t know how long we’ll be on this journey, but we do know that together we can help each other through it, and learn some new skills along the way.
Colin Birney is the Business Development Lead for Square Australia.