It’s not exactly news to anyone at this point that we’re living in completely unprecedented times. Due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, it’s never been harder to operate consistently as a small business owner. The restrictions and the impact of local and national lockdowns have been devastating for owners of independent restaurants, bars, shops, beauty businesses and so many more – and yet small businesses are the backbone of the UK economy.
There are almost 6 million independent businesses in the United Kingdom alone, many of whom have not had the same support and assistance as huge corporations who were not hit as hard in the first place. To keep the economy strong and sustainable in this difficult era, small business owners must work harder than ever to keep the local community spending with them.
Luckily, there are a few things that independent business owners in a number of industries can do to keep things moving, even in a time when doors are closed. Let’s take a look at a number of the ways small business owners can provide for a community of local shoppers during the pandemic – and restore stability to the local economy in the process.
Utilise Social Media
Thanks to the ever-growing popularity of social media, businesses do not need a website to operate online – in fact, social media is arguably the most effective way of encouraging online business overall.
Creating and maintaining an effective Facebook or Instagram page – as well as profiles on sites such as Twitter and LinkedIn - are particularly important for small business owners these days. There are countless ways that businesses can use these platforms to promote their services and products to customers and to facilitate sales during lockdown!
Use your social media pages effectively by posting regularly, taking high-quality photographs of products, creating great advertisements and generally engaging with current and potential customers whenever you can.
Here are just a few ways that businesses can utilise social media in order to continue to trade during lockdown.
Bakeries, Butchers and Grocers
Facebook can be an ideal way to utilise sales with customers who would like to place orders for delivery. During the pandemic, people are more cautious than ever about using their local supermarkets due to how busy they can get, and yet people will always need bread, meat and vegetables!
Bakeries, butchers and grocers are all businesses which could benefit from taking orders for delivery over social media, so it’s certainly worth getting your business online and engaging with the local community.
Salons and Beauty Businesses
While salons may only be able to carry out treatments in person, there are still ways that these businesses can make money from their products and services during the lockdown period.
Hair salons could still have consultations with customers over a video chat platform such as Zoom or Skype. It’s worth also giving social media users the opportunity to purchase gift vouchers with an extended expiry date, so that they can get their first post-lockdown haircut, lash treatment or pedicure reserved for when things start to get a little more back to normal!
Why not also consider offering services which will allow customers to extend the life of the treatments they had before lockdown? For instance, nail bars could offer to send customers a replacement of a chipped or snapped nail in the same colour. This shows that the business is willing to go above and beyond to cater for their customers – something which can only encourage others to use your service in the future.
It may also be an idea to take advantage of the fact that everyone needs some pampering right now – why not make up and sell pamper or relaxation boxes which can be delivered to customers’ doors?
Cake shops could certainly offer the opportunity for customers to order online and deliver the cakes to their door. It’s also worth encouraging customers to get their Christmas orders in now so that they can avoid disappointment. This will give you as a business owner an opportunity to secure those all-important paying customers during the difficult festive period.
It’s a great idea to get some photographs together of some of the finest cakes you’ve made-to-order so far – everyone needs a little lift in times like these, and who doesn’t enjoy a nice cake?
Instagram was made for clothing businesses! Use the site to post photographs of the clothes you offer and give customers the opportunity to order through sites such as Depop or through your Instagram page directly.
Everyone loves a bargain, especially in the current climate, so why not hold an exclusive online-only sale? Get rid of old, unsold stock from the summer of lockdown to make way for all the excellent Autumn/Winter stock you’ll be ordering in for your customers soon!
Don’t forget to post plenty of photographs of your upcoming collections – you’ll have customers rushing back when shop doors can finally open!
What About Offline?
Of course, it goes without saying that there are still plenty of people who don’t use social media. It’s important to still put some thought into encouraging business from your offline customers too!
Perhaps consider putting a notice and posters in your shop window. It’s worth making your non-social media customers aware that you are still operating – just not open. Is there a way that your customers can place orders for delivery over the phone?
You could also have some flyers , posters or leaflets made up and ask friends or family to post them through letterboxes in the local area. It’s a great way to get the word out to customers who won’t see your posts on social media.
Overall, keeping the local economy thriving is certainly more important than ever. Whilst small business owners will have to work much harder in order to secure those all-important clients and customers during the lockdown period, it can be done – and doing it properly could mean that your business comes back bigger and better than ever once the restrictions are lifted!