While we might be coming out of the other end of the coronavirus outbreak in the UK with many non-essential shops, restaurants, cinemas, and arcades allowed to reopen with strict health and social distancing rules in place, for many business owners who ran a bricks-and-mortar company before the outbreak, it’s been a wake-up call. Overnight, many people were left in total fear of losing their business and their livelihood that they had worked at so hard for years. And as a result, we saw more retailers move online than ever before.

Image by Mudassar Iqbal from Pixabay

Creative Options for Moving Online:

Of course, not every physical business is cut out for moving online – but people found a way to make it happen. Restaurants started offering delivery services of their customers’ favourite meals that could be ordered online and taken straight to their doors during the lockdown. Cinemas and theatres offered live streaming instead of in-house performances, and other in-person business owners found creative ways to sell their products and services online, like personal trainers who got down to business coming up with courses that their clients could buy and do from home instead.

A boom in Online Shopping:

Lockdown was probably the best time for brick-and-mortar retail businesses to move online thanks to the huge boom in online shopping. With non-essential stores closed to the public, customers were missing out on their fix of getting something new, and with many stuck at home with little to do on furlough, they turned to online shopping. Retail businesses who had been toying with the idea of setting up an eCommerce website were suddenly forced to act in order to survive.

How COVID-19 Changed Shopping:

While businesses are slowly being allowed to reopen to the public, the COVID-19 crisis made some significant changes that are here to stay. Companies that ran successful brick-and-mortar stores before the outbreak and successfully moved online during it might find that the online branch of their business continues to do well even as their store reopens and welcomes customers once again. Understandably, many people are still concerned about spending too much time outside and around other people and would rather choose the safer option of shopping online for a long time to come.

Making Your Online Venture a Success:

The COVID-19 crisis led to unprecedented changes for us all, and for many business owners, coming up with a whole new business model of selling online was a stressful thing to do in the middle of a pandemic. Now that things are beginning to look a little more normal in the UK, it’s time to think about how you will continue to ensure that your online venture is a success. If you are selling products online, don’t be afraid to change eCommerce platforms and upgrade your website, or even pay for the services of a web developer to build a bespoke site to attract more customers if you threw together a rudimentary site at the start to get online as quickly as possible. Invest in more online marketing and let your customers know that even though your store is now open, they still have the option to shop online if they wish.

Making the Shift to Trading Completely Online:

Many business owners have found that trading online during the pandemic has actually been more successful for them than operating from a brick-and-mortar store. And it’s no surprise, given the growing popularity of online shopping today that was only fuelled further by the outbreak. You may want to consider beginning to prepare to shift to trading completely online; this could involve hiring more staff to manage your website and online campaigns and bumping up customer service.

Safety in Retail Stores:

If you have decided to reopen your store alongside your new online trading option, safety is paramount. Contactless payments are recommended in order to reduce touching and handling of cash, so if you only accepted cash before, now is the time to consider investing in a card payment machine. The linked resource UTP Group offers contactless card payment machines that your customers can use to safely pay for goods and services. If you’re looking for a provider you can trust, they come highly recommended as your merchant account will be created with Barclaycard Payment Acceptance. All major credit cards can be processed on this machine too, so you can be sure that you’re able to service as many customers as possible.

You’ll also need to ensure social distancing in your retail store by manning how many customers are allowed into the shop at any one time and spacing products further apart if possible. You can improve safety even further for customers by installing hand sanitiser stations at the entrance and exit and ensuring that all staff and customers wear masks.

COVID-19 changed businesses forever, with many retailers and other businesses being forced to move online as a result of the pandemic. But the good news is that even with non-essential stores allowed to reopen under certain conditions, many businesses that moved online have been even more successful.

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