Before all, we’d like to take this opportunity to say thank you, to all the frontline workers doing their utmost, around the clock, to help fight this outbreak. I think we speak on behalf of the nation when we say we are truly grateful for your efforts.
We find ourselves living in unprecedented times, with the outbreak of COVID-19. The virus has bought the world to a halt with country-wide lockdowns in place, to combat the spread.
For businesses around the UK, these are the darkest times we have found ourselves in. For safety concerns for our teams, the public and government-enforced closures. A huge number of businesses now find themselves operating remotely or temporarily closed. Digital presence is now more important than ever.
What steps can businesses take to ensure they come out of this crisis, strong? We’ve outlined a few, which you can read below. Now we just want to give a disclaimer, that at the time of writing this, this adheres to government regulations and rules.
Keep in contact with your customers
You’ve heard us say on numerous occasions, how powerful a tool, social media is. It’s a platform where, now more than ever, users are interacting with friends, families and businesses.
Lockdown in the UK means everyone who isn’t a key worker should be at home unless travelling to and from work or shopping for essential items. This means social media traffic is at an all-time high. So, your business should be busy on social media either interacting with users or posting to social media to maintain your brand’s presence.
If your business is temporarily closed, you should’ve given a notice to your customers through social media. If you haven’t already – a friendly reminder goes a long way. Just in case someone feels the need to make a trip to your store to only find you closed.
Find out what your customers are doing during a prolonged period of staying indoors. People are always coming up with intuitive ideas and games they can play and posting them on social media. We’ve got the #stayathomechallenge, where you take a roll of tissue paper and do as many “keepy-uppies” as you can. We’ve had sports stars and celebrities from all over the globe get involved in this fun, but all be it bizarre challenges.
We’ll come back to this point in a bit, after our next topic we feel like it’ll make a bit more sense.
Takeaway & Delivery
For the general public, ordering takeaway has become an important part of our busy lives. We are so used to opening up apps like Deliveroo, UberEats, JustEat and ordering from our local food places. Due to a shortage in shops of everyday food items and local restaurants closing their doors, food delivery has become such a vital part of our lives.
Restaurants are offering takeaway-only services and delivery through the major apps, mentioned above. All restaurants must do the same. You will be playing a vital role in providing people like key workers with meals when they’re not able to cook at home.
Restaurants should be following NHS and government guidelines to workplace safety and hygiene at all times. This is to be expected, however additional measures are crucial at a time like this.
A lot of big chains such as KFC and McDonalds have shut their doors completely, leaving a huge gap in the fast-food delivery market. This means small, local restaurants are receiving a higher number of orders, than usual.
By using food delivery platforms such as Deliveroo & UberEats, you eliminate the need to have delivery drivers. Drivers are on hand to help deliver food with companies even boosting pay to say thank you for the important role they’re playing. These delivery services have additional COVID-19 measures in place, such as contactless deliveries, where delivery drivers and customers do not need to make contact to deliver and receive goods. JustEat also advises against cash payments, wherever possible.
Now going back to our previously mentioned point about social media. Restaurants who are operating through delivery should let their customers know regularly with friendly reminders. At times like these, it is easy to assume that businesses are shut.
Businesses have also been offering NHS staff discounts on food and online services. Discounts range from:
- Free/discounted items
- Free/discounted subscriptions to online services
- Discounted meals anywhere from 20-50% off
- And more…
With great reason as well, NHS workers are working on the frontline, continuously and these perks are just a small way of showing our gratitude for the work they are doing.
Social media is a great platform to inform frontline workers of any discounts you may be offering. Users will share and pass along the information to them, as they might not have the time to be surfing through social media. People will remember the good you do, during difficult times.
Businesses are using email marketing to keep their customers updated about important changes to their services. It is also a great way to let customers know you’re still open for business, delivering goods and services. Companies such as UberEats and Deliveroo are great examples. They have been providing updates about promotions, new changes to service and also informing us that they’re still delivering food.
If you’ve got an online store or are delivering food using major apps such as Deliveroo, UberEats and JustEat, emails might just be the right tool for you to communicate with your customers.
Communicating with your customers is important, so make sure you’re utilising at least one of the channels we’ve mentioned.
Businesses that deliver goods using e-commerce will be continuing to do so. E-commerce allows businesses to take orders and deliver, eliminating the need for a person to leave their house. It plays a huge role, now more than ever, to help get people items which they want. People at home are at ease knowing that they still have the option of getting items delivered straight to their door, despite the closure of many of their favourite stores.
With Amazon and eBay leading the way, there’s still room for smaller businesses to provide their customers with items in which they specialise. A simple and easy to use e-commerce platform goes a long way in helping you get orders for goods.
If your business sells goods in stores or was selling goods before being forced into temporary closure, now is the time to start an eCommerce website that will allow you to continue selling goods and allow your customers to receive them. The limitations of not being able to go in-store will be negligible.
Delivery services are still operational and experts say deliveries and parcels are safe from COVID-19, as long as safety and hygiene measures are in place in the warehouses where the items are handled. Couriers are also operating with new rules, where they place the package at your door, ring the doorbell and step away while they wait for you to answer, confirm your name before collecting your package.
Being a business owner in this crisis is difficult. Many businesses are working from home, some employees are self-isolating and might not be able to work or might have been forced into temporary closure. The government understands this and has laid out many initiatives to help businesses. These include:
- Providing a £25,000 cash grant to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in smaller premises
- Providing a £10,000 cash grant to 700,000 small businesses
- The introduction of a new job retention scheme will cover up to 80% of wage costs
- Suspension of the minimum income floor for the self-employed: self-employed people can now access, in full, Universal Credit at a rate equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay for employees
- The business loans that were previously announced will be available from Monday 23 March and will now be interest-free for 12 months (was 6 months)
- Expanding the 100% business rates holiday for the next 12 months to cover all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England – not just those up to £51k Rateable Value.
These initiatives and more are all available for further reading on the GOV.UK website.
The government has laid out that it is crucial for businesses to keep on going, wherever possible, no matter the situation we find ourselves in and has vowed to help.
We cannot stress how important your digital presence is at a time like this. From social media, your website, to your ability to deliver goods and services. Businesses that don’t prioritise their digital presence are at risk of falling behind.
The only way you’ll continue connecting with your audience and customers, for the foreseeable future is digital. Small businesses should have learnt this by now. So if you’re still active and running, providing services, delivering food, now is the time to let your customers know. Communication is key and people will be happy to hear from you.
Coming back stronger than ever
Before we wrap this post up, we’d like to leave you with this:
We all will come back stronger than ever. Once we return to our everyday lives after we beat COVID-19, businesses all around the world will be flourishing. Now is the time to stay strong, head up and continue to help do whatever we can to help combat the spread for the time being.
We’ll leave you with a few useful links:
COVID-19 – Support for Businesses
COVID-19 – Guidance for Employers and Businesses
If you’re a business or know someone struggling to deliver their products or services please feel free to get in touch with a member of our team via firstname.lastname@example.org.