Plato is the first person credited with the phase “necessity is the mother of invention.” There is no doubt that there has been a lot of necessity for small businesses as a result of the pandemic.
I won’t bore you with all of the issues that are facing small businesses as a result of the pandemic and the economic “shutdown.” I’m sure you know the issues. Suffice to say, small business are among the hardest hit.
Today, The Washington Post posted an article on how some businesses have shifted their business models to stay afloat in these difficult times. The article, Small businesses turned to technology to survive the pandemic. But it may not be enough., provides examples of companies that have turned to technology, or better stated the web, to make up for a significant decrease in in-store traffic.
The article gives several great examples of companies that were faced with a significant decrease in sales because of the shutdown. In all these cases, businesses that were in-store only establishments quickly pivoted their business models and began selling online. As heartening as these stories are, I think it is important to note that in all these cases, the move to online was made out of necessity – a way to keep the doors open until a sense of normalcy returned. The one key ingredient for all of these businesses highlighted in the article was the quick shift to online options. This sentence about a produce seller in New York City sums up how technology can help businesses move to online selling:
Joseph Boo used Shopify to make the website, software called OnFleet for the delivery logistics, his iPhone for product shots, UpWork to hire help, and Instagram and Facebook for marketing.
Some business models may not need these many different components to get their business up and running on the web. Some may only need something as simple as video conferencing apps like Zoom. The common factor in all of these examples is the speed with which they had to get up on the web in order to survive.
Stepping into the void, tech companies are coming up with new tools for small businesses. Square is best known for its credit card reader that plugs into mobile phones, but it now offers tools for website-building and invoicing. When the pandemic started, the company added new options to its software such as curbside pickup and contactless delivery.
“We saw a lot of people get online in two days, three days,” said Square’s Rusenko. “Now that some areas are reopening, they’re actually able to manage both.”
If there is anything good to come out of this, it may be the nimble, quick thinking companies that have established their online presence now will have a new channel by which to make revenue.
Overview by Peter Reville, Director, Primary Research Services at Mercator Advisory Group