How should entrepreneurs deal with a pandemic? (Radio column)

The Covid-19 has accelerated the phenomenon of digital transformation, companies which were doomed to disappear can get out of it and even progress thanks to it. The limitation of social interactions with local traders is also one of the factors for which the pandemic is difficult for the entrepreneurs.

Many businesses have adapted well to the pandemic. There has been a marked improvement since the spring. But with the arrival of the second wave and the new security measures put in place by the government, entrepreneurs, especially restaurateurs, will have their share of new challenges to face in the coming months.

A large number of businesses have been able to adapt to the pandemic, and the numbers have improved significantly since the spring. However, with the arrival of the second wave and new security measures put in place by the government, entrepreneurs will have their share of new challenges to face in the coming months.

The measures aimed at curbing the spread are essentially measures that severely limit human contact. This is why the tangent is to e-commerce. Retail businesses, especially large chains, have already massively adopted this practice with the decrease in traffic in shopping malls for several years. Their e-commerce systems were already well established. For small merchants or restaurant owners, it is more difficult to adapt quickly, but it is still possible to do so by going through an important learning curve. George Bush said: *Think of all the problems, all the challenges we face. The solution to each of these challenges is education.

Inspiring stories

21% of small SMEs do not plan to make any changes to adapt to the health crisis. Some organizations for which teleworking was not possible, such as the Beauce chocolate factory La Pralinière, had to close their doors and separate from all their employees, keeping a large inventory that was intended for physical sales. The owner was initially reluctant to enter the world of the Internet because it was risky for him to invest in a new acquisition channel when he was in a very bad position. The risk was not really a risk when you know the ins and outs of e-commerce. The digitization of his company allowed the chocolate factory owner to sell off his entire stock, production was able to start up again, and all the employees who were laid off were able to be rehired. Today the Beauce SME is doing wonderfully and has a bright future ahead of it.

However, not all products have a predisposition to be sold online, we could think that products such as flowers are difficult to sell online. Spring is the time of year when nurseries, florists and other businesses in the world make the majority of their sales. We will study here the case of the Serres Saint-Élie who thought of closing their doors at first, but who was finally tempted by e-commerce? The owners did not think that such products could be sold online, and yet they were. They were already equipped to deliver to their customers, so the switchover to digital was fairly easy. We can therefore conclude that there are no areas where e-commerce is not possible, just get started.

Several swimming pool manufacturers, wood stove manufacturers, hardware stores, furniture manufacturers or other merchants whose sales are not traditionally made online have developed the Quebec e-commerce market. To their great surprise, customers were there.

How much does e-commerce cost?

Don't be fooled, to get away with it today in e-commerce, you need to plan a fairly significant basic investment. It may seem counterintuitive to invest when finances are bad, but it's a question of business survival. And the longer you wait, the more it costs. All the market shares that are not taken today on the web will be difficult to access in the future.

The investment is comparable to buying a new car. Once the car is chosen, you have to choose the options, well a digital transformation is pretty much the same, once the digital platform is chosen, there are several other areas of expenditure to take into account in our advertising envelope, which raises the bill to $45,000 on average.

How should the budget envelope be separated?

In addition to the creation of the website, there is a range of tools to be integrated and hours of work to be paid.

  • Site set-up as such: Hosting an online sales platform is the nerve center of an e-commerce strategy, but fortunately, it is not the most expensive. Several options are available to you. You have the possibility to create a site yourself and buy your own domain name at low cost with platforms such as Squarespace or Webself, . You can also invest in a custom site to make sure you include all the features you need and have full control over the art direction and design of your platform. A custom site may be more to your liking, but the costs are higher. Regardless of the option you choose, you should also plan a UX audit of your site. The UX audit will determine whether your platform is user-friendly, well-structured and easy to use. You will be able to correct any errors afterwards. Do not launch a poorly worked website. It is one of the first contacts you will have with online customers. It is important to make a good first impression.

  • Trend analysis: It is not a tool to be integrated as such, but it is a step in the development of your platform that can save you time and money. A competitive intelligence allows you to know what your competitors are doing and what works best for them. It allows you to better position yourself on the market and to reduce the development costs of your website. It is preferable to call upon experts in this field to practice trend analysis.

  • Maintenance: Once launched, a site needs maintenance. If you created your site yourself, maintenance costs will be limited to your personal time. For a customized site, maintenance costs are to be expected. These costs are usually included in the service offer of the agencies.

  • The SEO: To work, an online sales platform must be seen. It is important to consult an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) expert to ensure that the elements of your site, especially your editorial staff, are optimized to get the best performance on search engines.

  • Advertising: Like any product, your platform must be promoted to your potential customers. It is more difficult to take care of this part yourself, but the investments are less important than for traditional advertising and the returns on investment are enormous. There are many ways to advertise: e-mail marketing, Facebook ads, Google ads, or SEO as mentioned above which allows you to appear at the top of the search engine list.

  • Video : Video is the advertising format par excellence on the digital market. Although the initial investment is higher, video can generate performance up to 10 times higher than standard visuals. Many agencies are offering to reduce costs by buying an ad that includes video ad creation.

There are still a lot of elements that are necessary for the smooth running of an online activity that we have not touched on such as the implementation of a delivery system, the setting up of the payment system, the management of orders, packaging etc… But you now know the basics to be able to launch your online business. E-commerce is not a miracle solution, but when the investment is made in the right way and accompanied by the right experts, your business will have an infinite possibility of progress.

❤️ For a better world turned towards humans

Laure Gabrielle

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