I read an article this week titled, How the coronavirus and retail closures are accelerating the rise of Amazon. Not surprising. COVID-19 has increased the rate of adoption of online purchases across the board, creating habits that won’t simply die out when the crisis ends. And with online shopping growing those with the biggest stores are bound to be the most successful.
While this is great news for some, this comes as a threat to our local communities and even economies. Beyond just bringing growth and innovation to communities, small businesses help stimulate economic growth offering employment opportunities to many who may not be employable by corporate. In essence, SMBs and Mid-Market companies are essential and threatened at the same time.
Today, SMB and Mid Market companies, whether they’re retailers, smaller grocers or restaurants, don’t have the infrastructure and cash pile to fight the behemoths for long term success. And with these huge marketplaces and digital retailers growing daily, it is becoming harder for SMBs to earn and retain their customers.
Customers want a reliable store that is stocked and available even during a pandemic. They want to receive their goods at the expected time and they want continual visibility from basket to door front. This is what Amazon does so well. This is how they thrive and this is why it’s critical that small and mid market businesses launch an online offering with delivery services today that will not only save jobs now, but also sustain them into the future.
The obvious first step is to venture into e-commerce – online shopping and quick delivery – an unknown space for many smaller organizations. Launching an e-commerce site or pairing phone orders with delivery sounds basic, but many businesses aren’t built for it and they see delivery as simply too daunting. But, it’s really not as hard as people would think. E-commerce is a commodity and easy to set up and started, including phone apps and websites. Also, this first step, turning the business “store lights” on, has many different marketable solutions from Wix to Shopify to personal websites and more.
The next step, bringing in the traffic, begins with marketing. Here there are many solutions that businesses are already familiar with; physical advertising within the community, email marketing to regular customers, loyalty programs and even more digital plays like social media advertising. The difference is not the marketing channel but the marketing message. Now businesses need to change tone and content, moving from messages that drive foot traffic to messages that increase user volumes to their site.
The third step is getting the deliveries started. And for this, there is actually free plug-and-play tech, like BringgNow. BringgNow is the commitment we made to help support local businesses during this difficult time. Our free last-mile delivery solution lets businesses “uberize” their own drivers and/or utilize third-party fleets (like DoorDash and Postmates) so that they may immediately launch and manage their own delivery service.
And while we have seen great results for those businesses that have launched BringgNow, we want to take it one step forward. To provide greater value to SMBs and Mid-market companies, we will focus on growing our network and connecting with more e-commerce platforms to make it even easier for any business to turn digital and gain back some of what has been taken by giants.