This is a worrying time, and we’re not here to add to any concerns you may have or create any additional panic. Instead, we’d like to offer some helpful online strategies that you can put in place to help your business survive during this difficult period.
So let’s dive in!
Table of Contents
1. Offer Online Delivery For Restaurants
Many restaurants have been hit pretty hard, having to close their doors until further notice.
However, some cities/countries are allowing restaurants to offer take-aways or home deliveries.
Perhaps you’ve already thought about moving your business into the online realm? We wanted to share a couple of really helpful apps that allow you to do so.
Wix Restaurants App
You might have heard of Wix, a website builder that hosts 160 million sites worldwide. Aside from helping entrepreneurs and small businesses get online with a website, it also has a handy booking system that you can use for your online restaurant orders.
Some of the pros to using Wix Restaurant Orders:
- No commissions
- You can accept credit card payments
- Manage orders in the app
- Get notified by email, text or phone
- Integrates with your (Wix) site perfectly
- Returning customers can save their payment info for next time
Price: In order to offer this service, you’ll need to upgrade to one of Wix’s Business plans. The most affordable one will cost you 20€/month.
Add an Order Form to Your Existing Website
Other Food Delivery Apps (US Only)
Other food delivery apps charge pretty high commission fees (15-40%). So you’ll want to choose wisely. Here’s a breakdown of the top 3:
Doordash: 20% commission fees. A wide range of locations (available in all 50 states and over 800 US cities). Easy-to-use app.
Caviar: 25% commission fees. Only available in 11 major cities. Typically for more high-end restaurants.
GrubHub: 15 – 30% commissions. Operates in over 2700 US cities and has an estimated 14.5 million users. You can integrate an online order link on your website.
2. Offer Online Consultations & Take Bookings Online
This is a good temporary (and even long-term) strategy for those working as yoga instructors, therapists, nutritionists, personal trainers, etc. as it means that you can stay in touch and attend to your clients online, through video calls.
There are plenty of good options for video calls. The best one by far is Zoom, which we also use internally. Google Hangouts is also pretty good but seems to consume a lot of computing power.
There are a couple of tools that facilitate this, helping you to keep track of appointments and payments.
Acuity Scheduling (by Squarespace)
Squarespace recently acquired Acuity Scheduling, which allows you to take online bookings 24/7 and accept payments and deposits. Even gift certificates can be sold! Acuity can be added to any existing website!
You can receive payments with any of these plans: Emerging Entrepreneur ($15/month), Growing Business ($25/month) and Powerhouse Player ($50/month). The number of calendars for each team member ranges from 1 (Emerging Entrepreneur), 2-6 (Growing Business) and 7-36 (Powerhouse Player). Prices are billed monthly (discounted annual plans are also available).
If you are on Wix you will be happy to hear that it also offers a similar feature! You can add Wix Bookings to your existing Wix website on the Business plan (20€/month). If you don’t need to accept online payments you can even use it for free.
Next to classic appointment bookings you also have a couple of special features:
- You can offer group classes (each person connects from their own home)
- Send automatic email reminders
- Add other staff members and manage their calendars
- Sync with Google Calendar
- Store customer information
HubSpot offers a very generous free CRM, where you can book appointments with clients and sync them to your Google or Office 365 calendar.
Aside from taking bookings, you can also add tasks, track email correspondence, add notes and keep a call record.
3. Finally Build That Newsletter List
Do you have a whole database of subscribers just sitting there? You might have added a newsletter subscription form to your website and then never actually set up that monthly newsletter or autoresponders. Or maybe you haven’t started collecting subscribers yet. Now is the time to get organized.
In order to collect contacts, you’ll need a sign-up form where people can opt-in to receive your newsletter. You can display this on your website or set up a specific landing page. One way of doing this is through the same email marketing tool you’re going to use to send out the newsletter.
Mailchimp: 2,000 subscribers, 10,000 emails p/m, reporting, list management, mobile features, forms and landing pages. See full review.
Sender.net: 2,500 subscribers, 15,000 emails p/m, autoresponders + transactional emails, push notifications and forms
Omnisend: 15,000 emails p/m, 3 forms/landing pages, A/B testing, website tracking, ecommerce features
Check out our sister site’s complete guide to email marketing in this free ebook.
4. Create an Online Store
Ecommerce is the future, now even more than ever. Nobody wants Amazon to take home all the increased online spending. In order to get a piece of the pie, you’ll need to get your own online store up and running and now is a good time to do so.
This might feel like a daunting task, but it doesn’t need to be. There are a number of great ecommerce website builders you can use that won’t require you to write a single line of code!
If you need any help setting up your online store, check out our in-depth guide for beginners.
Top choices for small online stores
‘Small’ generally counts as 50 items or less.
Jimdo is offering small businesses a very generous helping hand in these difficult times.
It is offering its customers Dolphin Premium Shop packages for a symbolic $1 per month for a one year subscription period. The specific Dolphin packages being affected are:
Online shop Basic – normally $15 – Now $1 (Voucher code JIMDOHELP)
Online shop Business – normally $19 – Now $1 (Voucher code JIMDOHELP)
Pros: Very easy-to-use, no additional sales fees and fulfills ecommerce regulations for EU countries.
Cons: It’s not possible to sell digital goods or to import / export product data. Not the most advanced ecommerce solution.
Pros: Very easy to use and very affordable. Supports physical goods, digital goods and services. SSL-encryption is possible on your own domain. A shipping and tax calculator is included.
Cons: No offline payment available and PayPal is only included in the highest plan. No integrations with other platforms.
Entry plan prices: You can get started for free and then pay 5€ on the Personal plan, which allows you to connect your site to a domain name.
Pros: Great value and easy-to-use. You can sell both physical & digital goods without any sales fees. Real time shipping calculator included.
Cons: We recommend using Wix ecommerce for smaller stores only (less than 50 items) as backend loading speeds aren’t the best.
Entry plan prices: 20€/month – Accept online and offline payments. No sales fee. Works for physical and digital products. Unlimited items.
Pros: Good blog integration. Allows you to sell services and subscriptions. Great for social media.
Cons: Not as easy to use as other tools. There is no automatic sales tax.
Entry plan prices: 17€/month – Sell unlimited products with a 3% transaction fee.
Bonus option if you already have a website: Ecwid
Ecwid lets you add a shopping cart to your existing website quickly and easily. Right now they are supporting businesses during the COVID-19 crisis by adding these features for free: Curbside pickup, gift cards, point of sale integration (via Square)
For Bigger Online Stores
These options are for those looking to sell more than 50 different products.
Pros: Easy-to-use tools with excellent designs. Offers a good amount of flexibility and allows you to scale your business easily. Very good support and a big benefit is its online community and apps.
Cons: Not a good choice for multi-language stores. Extra transaction fees when not using Shopify Payments.
Prices start from $26/month.
You’ll be able to sell unlimited products, though Shopify will charge a 2% transaction fee unless you use Shopify Payments.
**Shopify is currently offering an extended trial period from 14-days to 90 days**
Pros: Adding product variants is easy and there’s no limit. A good option for those who want to scale. No transaction fees. Solid SEO features.
Cons: You’ll be automatically upgraded to a higher plan if the annual sales limit is reached. Not great if you need to create regular content like blog posts. Those who need a multilingual store will need help from a developer.
5. Sell Video Courses Online
Taking your services online and offering video courses or individual classes is a great way to get some revenue at a time like this. In fact, there are many digital items you can sell online, including e-books, audiobooks and website themes, fonts, etc. Check our complete guide on selling digital downloads.
If you have a Wix website, we recommend taking a look at the Wix Video app.
It’s free to add this feature and you’ll be able to promote and sell your videos or offer monthly subscriptions. Plus, Wix doesn’t take any commission.
Thinkific customers have sold over $200 million in courses. What’s great is that it has a free plan, which allows you to host up to 3 online courses to unlimited students.
Students can leave reviews and take part in discussions, and you can even offer them free trials of your courses and downloadable content. You can accept payments through Stripe or PayPal and you’ll have instant access to your funds.
No worries if you don’t already have a website, the platform has a great selection of design templates to help you build a professional-looking site for your courses.
All of the Teachable paid plans include unlimited video, courses and hosting, integrated payment processing, student management and basic quizzes. You can also get featured on its Discover page for courses created on the Teachable platform – check it out for online course ideas.
You can choose to use the online course platform for free (with $1 + $0.10 for all transactions) or select one of the three paid plans ranging from $39/month to $499/month (though annual discounts are available). One thing to be aware of is that you’ll be charged a transaction fee of 5% on the Basic plan.
> Try Teachable for free!
6. Revamp Your Website
If you already have a website, now could be a good time to work on a new design or make some slight changes to improve the overall user experience.
Is your branding on point?
Could your layout be a little clearer?
Does it make sense to send the user to page X when they click X button?
This is a good time to really analyze your website and work on resolving anything that might frustrate, confuse or put off users enough that they bounce off your site. An example of this could be an annoying pop-up that appears every 10 seconds.
It’s useful to really think about your customers’ and potential customers’ needs and how well your website is meeting these. You could even use this time to collect some data that will give you insights and help when making design choices. One way of doing this is through customer surveys. Here is a selection of free survey tools.
You can find some useful design tips in this article.
7. Optimize Your Website’s SEO
SEO (search engine optimization) should be something that you’re working on and learning about continuously if you have a website. For many businesses, being successful online means showing up on the first page of Google, and you absolutely can’t do that unless you know what you’re doing SEO-wise.
Google ranks pages, not entire websites. So, in order to get visits from search engines, you need to optimize each page for a primary keyword. You’ll need to use a tool to find out what people are searching for and how high the competition is for such keywords. Google’s Keyword Planner is free to use.
In targeting certain keywords high volume, low competition keywords, you’ll need to produce helpful, well-written content that Google will want to rank. Find out more about SEO in this guide.
If you have pages on the second page of Google, now is a good time to optimize these pages. Analyze it with these questions in mind:
Is the content up-to-date?
What’s missing? – Compare it to the articles ranking ahead of you. If yours is much shorter that could be holding you back
Does it have a video? – This can really give a page a boost
8. Offer Customers E-Gift Cards
Many people are keen to support small businesses, one way they can do so is by buying gift cards from their favorite online stores. With Square, you can set up and sell gift cards online to your customers. All you’ll get charged is a processing fee of 2.9% + 30¢ when you sell a gift card.
A pretty low tech solution could be to add a form with a payment option, which lets your customers download a PDF voucher. 123FormBuilder offers this on its free plan.
An alternative to gift cards could also be to set up a GoFundMe page. This way you can accept donations for a specific purpose from your customers.
9. Create a Membership Site
In creating a membership site, you offer visitors the option of registering and getting access to exclusive content. This could be in the form of videos, courses, articles and guides, whitepapers, etc.
With Wix Membership, it’s possible to sell paid subscriptions online without third-party integrations. You can even set recurring payments.
In order to use this feature, you’ll need to be on one of the Wix Business & eCommerce packages. The cheapest starts at 20€/month.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to create multilingual membership sites. If this is your goal, I’d suggest you check out WordPress and use a plugin (though these aren’t cheap). Or you could use an online course platform like Teachable or Thinkific.
10. Set up a Podcast
If you don’t want to create a whole video course, or perhaps you’re camera shy, podcasts could be a great way to reach your audience whilst they’re stuck at home.
Here is a helpful guide on everything you need to know about setting up your podcast and which provider to go with.
I hope you find these online strategies useful! If you have any other ideas or questions, please let us know in the comments below. We’re here for you!