The pandemic caused a massive disruption in the operations of businesses worldwide. Some companies filed for bankruptcy. Some had to stop operations temporarily. Unfortunately, some had to shut down permanently.
Majority of those who survived shifted to e-commerce. This meant they had to shift from in-store operations to online transactions. They had to convert their physical stores into online shops. They had to lay off people. This is especially true in New York City (NYC) which shares the highest decline in jobs across the country.
New York City is beginning to get back up this year, as more businesses are trying to reopen. Yet, experts believe that business dynamics will be a lot different post-pandemic.
The Shift to E-commerce
McKinsey Global Institute predicted that in 2024, e-commerce will rise by 24 percent. By July 2020, e-commerce has already increased by 33 percent due to the pandemic. They also estimated that more than 20 percent of the global workforce could effectively do their jobs away from their office. This includes finance, insurance, and IT companies. Thanks to digitization and automation, remote work has become efficient.
The question is, “Are businesses ready to go digital?” Are they equipped enough with the tools and the technology to shift to e-commerce?
If you are still torn about whether to shift to e-commerce, here are questions you have to ask yourself to help you decide.
Can my business thrive online?
While shifting online is strategic, it doesn’t guarantee a hundred percent sales. Restaurants can shift to online orders and deliveries. Yet, you can’t expect it to be as profitable compared to the dine-in experience. Retail seems to be working well online, as more customers order online. Yet, it could be challenging to go online for industries such as automotive, hotels, and salons.
You have to analyze how you can maximize the digital platform to work well for your business. You have to build your online presence. You have to use social media to communicate with your market. You may consult a digital marketing firm to study your business and create a marketing plan for you.
Should we keep our physical store or not?
Ask yourself. Are you shifting online for good? Or are you only limiting your store operations until the pandemic is over? Experts believe that virtual interfaces will be the trend after the pandemic. People are not going to the store anymore to check the stuff they want to buy. Sooner or later, businesses will develop avatars to do it for the customers. If this happens, your physical store will be of no use anymore.
Consider your finances as of now. If you want to keep your property, will you be able to pay rent despite limited operations? You may also avail of the rental assistance provided by the New York State under its Business Pandemic Recovery Initiative programs.
Meanwhile, if you own a business property, you might want to consider selling it. Consult with a reputable real estate lawyer. NYC has some of the best legal firms that can guide you in selling your property.
If we go online, do we have the skills and resources?
E-commerce is a different world. It requires knowledge and training in managing online business platforms. You have to learn Search Engine Optimization, social media marketing, and email marketing to introduce your online presence. You must also have to get the technology needed to sustain your online business. This includes web hosting packages, shopping cart software, and credit card processing tools. These will take time, effort, and money from your end. But, if it will boost your sales in the long run, it will be worth it.
Are you ready to let go of your people?
Now, this is the hardest part. You have to let go of a few people. Automation and digitization mean there are only limited people at work. From a hundred, you’d only need ten to twenty staff to oversee your online transactions. E-commerce requires a different set of technical skills, too.
It may be hard for you to let go of people but if it will work better for your business, then you might want to give it a try. Meanwhile, you may refer your former staff to NYC employment programs.
These are some of the things you have to consider when you’re planning to transition to e-commerce. As you know, everything in business requires taking risks. There’s no other way but to thrive in the new normal. If you’re brave enough to trust the trends, your business might be on its way to recovery.