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A Survival Guide for Brick-And-Mortar Retailers During a Pandemic

Michael Begg
Michael Begg

Learn how to generate sales for your brick-and-mortar businesses during a lockdown.

COVID-19 arrived and stopped everything abruptly. It didn't give people – or businesses – enough time to prepare and adjust to the sort of changes that we will be going through at least for the next several months. Opinions vary on that aspect, but there is one thing we know: This will change the way people behave and buy.

Some things won't go back to normal. Brick-and-mortar businesses may have the shorter end of the stick. Especially those resistant to change and stubbornly unwilling to embrace e-commerce. With thousands of stores closing every week, and many other businesses halting operations until further notice, it's no secret that this sector is going to have to implement some serious innovation to adapt.  

The U.S. Department of Labor reported that since early April, nearly 10 million initial unemployment insurance claims have been filed. It's only logical: You either keep swimming or you sink.

There's now a growing need for remote interactions, and this is could be the perfect chance to stay afloat in times of uncertainty. Let's see this as an opportunity to empower and expand your brand, rather than waiting for things to settle.

Here is a list of actions to survive, adapt, and overcome.

Keep an eye on your customers

This is a massive event that will affect consumer behavior around the world. Their problems are changing, and so, too, should the solutions.

Here are some things to consider to maintain customers' loyalty.

People are spending more time on their computers.

Therefore, your customers are turning more and more to ecommerce. Listrak reports a 40% increase in e-commerce revenue since the U.S. declared a state of emergency.

Consider every detail of the changes your consumers are facing.

People are spending more time at home, cooking more, homeschooling, etc. Their lives turned upside down out of nowhere. Understand their new problems to offer innovative solutions.

Go the extra mile for your consumers.

Not only focus on the practical problem. Overcome the emotional one too. People are getting fired. They feel frustrated with their kids at home, they might be nostalgic for a family member. What relief can your product offer?

Learn to find new patterns.

This is important information to help you have a strategy. Focus on your ideal consumer group and think – what’s their situation?

  • Are they working from home or essential workers?
  • What are their concerns?

This situation is creating patterns that will set the pace on how the economy will recover after we overcome the virus.

Take the bull by the horns

Although online shopping and ecommerce is not something new. There is a good chunk of the market that was reluctant to try it, and now, it seems to be everyone's option. However, just as any solution, it needs to be tailored to your business needs.

Amazon is a great platform to start selling online, but the competition is tough, so you'll need a plan.

Even if you already made the leap to e-commerce, these steps can help you boost your visibility.

Step 1. Check with your vendors or manufacturers.

Ask where they stand on production or stock and how the coronavirus will impact their business so you can be prepared.

Step 2. Look for alternatives.

China, the manufacturing giant, is not back up to pre-coronavirus production levels, so consider other sourcing options. 

Step 3. Be creative with your digital marketing campaign.

Maybe you can launch an online special collection or product that can make this crisis easier to manage, and don't forget to improve your site's SEO and loading speed to a minimum!

Consider using PPC, if you're not doing it already. This strategy is key to give your site visibility. The good thing about this is that there are a ton of ways to change your strategy.

Step 4. Keep product pages updated.

Make sure your customers have all the necessary information to make their experience as easy and enjoyable as possible. Specify size, materials, colors, sizes, and pictures or even add videos to your product pages.

Step 5. Address tech issues.

Make sure you take the time to get familiar with the platform you use. Have the right logistics and shipping agreements to avoid any delays in shipping, and make sure you comply with terms and conditions. That said, now is a good time to update your shipping policies.

Remember, times are different. Maybe is not a good idea to keep shipping times guaranteed? If you follow these steps, whether this is your first time selling online or not, you can gain more traction for organic growth.

Don't be afraid of change

A very powerful silver lining to this stressful situation is that this is the best time to carry out any adaptation you had been too afraid to try.

Maybe you didn't want to bother your customers or you just didn't want to interrupt your flow. Your customers are open to change more than ever, so approach them and converse with them. Listen to what they want and try out new ideas. For example, digital content can be your friend, even if it isn't the core of your business. It can become a great added value for the essence of your brand.

Creating low-cost/free webinars or videos related to your brand or product kills two birds with one stone. You may find that your customers will be grateful, which can mean a lot in long-term relationships. Show them how to use your product in a way they hadn't previously considered. 

Last but not least, stay positive

Certainly, the coronavirus crisis has not been easy on anyone. Social and economic systems are changing, and it will be difficult, but this is nothing we cannot manage.


Follow this simple guide to turn your brick-and-mortar business digital. It's not about how you can cope with this crisis; rather, it's how you can maximize this new way of interacting.

Image Credit: dusanpetkovic / Getty Images
Michael Begg
Michael Begg Member
Mike is the Co-Founder, CMO and CFO of AMZ Advisers, a digital marketing agency. Mike is also the President and Co-Founder of Bosque de Talentos, a nearshoring agency.