Keeping Your Business Going During Lockdown

My Post (8).pngBusiness owners will be very worried about how their company can survive over the next few months. However, though a lockdown means there will be no customers visiting your premises, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to stop trading completely. What it does mean is that you’ll need to think out of the box to come up with income-generating alternatives and make your business agile enough to adapt to your new circumstances. Here are some ideas you should consider.

Moving online

If you cannot trade from physical premises or face to face, the only way to serve your customers is online. That will mean adding shopping functionality to your website and communicating with your customers using email, social media and if your budget allows, through advertising.

If you don’t currently have a website, you can create one quickly, easily and cheaply. You can host your website here at WHUK for as little as £2.49 a month (plus VAT) and this will provide you with all the services and support you need to put your website online and give you professional email addresses. You can purchase a domain name (e.g. yourbusiness.com) from us too, for as little as £7.20 a year. And, once your hosting account is set up, you can install free, easy to use, website creation software, like WordPress, with one click. To add a shopping area to your site, you can then install the free WooCommerce plugin, which can be done in a couple of clicks from your website’s dashboard.

If you don’t already have business social media accounts on platforms like Facebook and Instagram, you would also need to set these up so you can promote your business to a much wider audience.

Alternative income streams

One of the most difficult things is to think of alternative ways to generate revenue. The key here is to look at what your business has expertise in and then work out how it can still help customers who are unable to access your current services.

Retailers, in some respects, have the easiest solution. They can simply advertise their products on their website, on social media platforms or sites like eBay and have them delivered to customers. Local businesses can even offer same-day delivery by dropping off the items themselves.

The challenge is bigger for companies which offer services. Social media, however, has plenty of examples of businesses with innovative solutions. Many restaurants, for example, are now delivering cooked meals or ingredient and recipe packs to their customers and helping taxi drivers stay in business while doing so. Local electrical and device repair services, meanwhile, are offering to collect and return items from customers’ homes.

Hair and beauty salons are creating monthly hair care and body care packages to be delivered to their customers’ homes. Contacting existing customers by email and text message, they are sending out items that their clients used to buy when they visited, like hair conditioner, styling products, face masks and body lotions. They are doing this by getting customers to sign up to receive regular monthly packages, which gives them time to acquire stock and helps them gauge what demand will be. They are then asking customers to like and share the service on social media to generate more sales through their website. Again, this is something that can be done by nail clinics, manicurists, pedicurists and various other service providers.

Other businesses which have used the internet to keep going are fitness instructors and educational tutors. Using easily available video conferencing apps, fitness classes and tutoring sessions can take place with all the usual members in attendance, except done from the safety of their own home. With a website, customers can sign up and pay for the services in advance and then those who have paid can be called when the session begins. Obviously, fitness instructors won’t be able to hand out equipment, so some improvisation or alternative ideas may be required. This method of delivering a service can be adopted by many other kinds of business – financial advisors, recruitment agencies, travel agents or anywhere else where visual communication is essential. – Read more

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Social Distancing? Best Work At Home Tools For Business Continuity

My Post (12).pngAs Coronavirus forces millions of people to work from home, employers and employees alike are looking for ways to stay connected and stay productive while the upheaval lasts. For most, the answer lies in technology and particularly the use of cloud-based tools and apps that can be accessed over the internet. To help, here are some of the best work from home tools and apps we’ve found.

Employee motivation and wellbeing tools

Social distancing adds a whole new dimension to working from home. People who normally work in the office will have to adjust to a working environment where they usually spend their free time – and this can make it difficult to get motivated. They also need to deal with the demands of looking after their children while at work and cope with all the wellbeing issues that long periods of confinement and lack of social contact can lead to.

Luckily, there are several tools to help improve motivation, wellbeing and positivity. The first of these is Chimp or Champ, an online portal where team members can give anonymous feedback, expressing how they have felt during the previous week and giving the reasons why. This feedback is then collated for managers in a weekly report that includes the team’s anonymous actionable feedback and an analysis of the team’s overall happiness score. This allows managers to make changes that will help your employees adapt to working from home in a way that makes them happier.

Another crucial motivational tool is to reward your employees. This is especially important when they are working in unusual circumstances. The online and app platform, Wooboard, is ideal for this as it provides a fun way not just for the manager to reward good work but for employees to recognise and praise each other. What’s also great about this tool during social distancing is that its social and gamification features help maintain the important daily interactions that can be easily lost when the team is socially isolated.

 Project management and collaboration tools

Keeping projects on schedule during the Coronavirus pandemic is going to be a challenge for all businesses, especially when teams that normally work together are isolated from each other. However, remote working is nothing new in the digital age and over recent years a growing number of high-quality project management and collaboration tools have been developed.

For teams that use Microsoft Office applications to create documents and send emails, especially users of Office 365, then the most useful tool may be Microsoft Teams, a teamwork hub built into Office 365. Accessible over the internet on any device, the tool has a long list of features and enables you to keep all your team’s documents, meetings, chats, files and apps together in one place – enabling you to communicate, collaborate and work simultaneously on instantly synced documents. Watch the video below to find out more.

MS Teams EMBED CODE

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An alternative to Microsoft Teams is ProofHub, another high-quality collaboration tool that provides seamless interaction between team members and comes with a wealth of remote project management features, as well as online proofing, discussions and feedback-sharing chat. And then, of course, there’s the well-known and very popular Slack, a messaging app and collaboration tool combo that easily integrates with all the tools your team uses and has a string of highly useful features.  – Read more

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How to Maintain eCommerce During Coronavirus

My Post - 2020-03-27T115752.517.pngWhile public health has to be the number one priority during the Coronavirus pandemic, eCommerce companies should be making plans to maintain their business during the current economic volatility. With large scale disruption likely, companies will likely face problems with supply and demand that can seriously impact cash flow. To put your business in the best position it can be, here are some things you may wish to consider.

Product availability issues

As an eCommerce company, you cannot operate if you do not have products to sell. The widescale effects of Coronavirus in China, the origin of so many products and components, means that the supply of many retail goods has already dwindled.

As the pandemic spreads and other countries see reductions in manufacturing capacity, supply is only going to get worse. In all likelihood, employee illness, factory closures and travel restrictions will mean that the products eCommerce companies want to sell will be manufactured at a lower rate and be delivered significantly later.

What then can eCommerce companies do to continue their operations? One solution is to start sourcing these products in areas that haven’t been widely affected by the virus and as time goes on, to look at areas where its impact has receded. Having multiple sources also means you don’t lose your entire supply if one manufacturer or wholesaler goes out of action. Sourcing products domestically can also be helpful as they will not face the same shipping disruption as imported goods.

Product cost issues

With fewer manufacturers or wholesalers working at capacity, many of them are taking advantage of scarcity by increasing their prices. In particular, these companies are prioritising customers who are putting in large orders and paying inflated prices. Smaller eCommerce companies, unfortunately, have been put to the back of the supply queue.

To keep supply going, smaller eCommerce companies may have to look at a wider range of suppliers and accept the higher prices being charged. Whether this cost can be absorbed or passed onto the customer depends on how well-stocked your competitors were before the pandemic began and how well they can absorb the increased costs of new stock themselves.

Cashflow issues

The effects of supply disruption, higher prices and a possible drop in orders means cash flow will be a major concern for all eCommerce companies. To cope with this, businesses will need to reduce spending and find other ways to increase income. With product scarcity likely to be common, there will be less choice for customers. One possible solution that arises from this is to hold on to items that would previously have been put in the sales and to continue selling them at full price to maintain margins.

Another area of consideration is advertising. If there are items in your inventory that are not going to sell because of Coronavirus, travel-related items, for example, then there is little point spending money on advertising them. With all advertising, eCommerce companies need to ensure that ROI is providing the value they need. Focussing on SEO and content marketing to improve organic traffic and shifting towards email marketing which doesn’t have a high acquisition cost, are all ways to bring about efficiencies that can help cash flow over the short term. – Read more

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