‘You can’t expect people to come to your door just because you are a small business owner in your community. You have to go the extra step.’
The business landscape has certainly changed since the pandemic hit. How are you adapting to these rapid changes? What can you do to make the most of your business during this pandemic?
In this episode, we discuss some pandemic business trends that we hope are going to be helpful to you and your business to thrive during this challenging time.
– Cashless payment
– Supporting local
– Technology and more
For more advice to business owners during the pandemic or info on technologies helping businesses in the pandemic, listen to our previous episodes.
Roger: Hello and welcome to Local SEO Today. I’m Roger Murphy.
John: And I’m John Vuong.
Roger: We wanna welcome our listeners to our podcast at Local SEO. We have many different topics on a regular basis so please check back all the time and today, John, we’ve got…And it’s all around business, for business entrepreneurs. We’re gonna talk about trends that are happening during this pandemic that we’ve all been through and post pandemic. In terms of which trends that have come in that we see that aren’t going to go anywhere.
John: Yeah, it’s gonna be a good topic because definitely these trends are gonna be gonna be here to stay because now customers, your users are now changing their behavior. They have adapted to this new norm and now you as a business owner you just pivot and adopt these changes so that the customers of yours will find it more easy for you to do business..
Roger: And that’s very fair and you know, some business owners and entrepreneurs listening today, we’re going to touch on many, many of these trends that are happening. Some of them, John, may not have adopted them yet and after today, they might rethink, “Maybe I should start focusing on taking advantage or reacting and pivoting to these trends.” Because it’ll help your business long term.
John: Exactly. I think the first thing we’re going to talk about is cashless. So, a lot of these businesses who don’t have an e-commerce store or if it is a retail outlet, a POS machine, right? Collecting credit card, collecting Iteract, collecting just different forms of payment as opposed to cash because a lot of business, a lot of customers don’t carry cash today because of, you know, the tracing of whatever viruses, bacteria that might be actually physically in a note. So, you need to understand what’s transpired here.
Roger: That’s right and to that point, John, the trend was actually happening prior to the pandemic has just accelerated where it’s just…And we all had it where you know, you go in to get a coffee or something but they weren’t…In the early days of this pandemic, they weren’t sure about surfaces so they put signs up. “No cash, please.” So, they basically asked for assistance from consumers, from the customer to help them and do as minimal interaction and physically touching as possible so…
John: Exactly. So, imagine a lot of these businesses like a Starbucks or Tim Hortons, they already had loyalty cards that filled up a card and you just tap and of course, if you have a phone there’s a lot of these payment system just like the PayPal is out there, you know, all these ones where you fill up your smartphone with funds and you just tap. It becomes touchless, right? So, it just sped up like you mentioned about the whole world of how we interact, exchanging money for goods and services. So, if you haven’t adopted that, make sure you do because now it’s a norm and if you don’t adopt it, people are actually gonna be…Not probably wanting to show up to your storefront if it is cash only.
Roger: So true. Another trend is delivery and you know, again this trend was happening but the Amazon effect of, you know, next day delivery, John, it’s every type of business and even whether it’s food service or food delivery. Delivery for everything has, you know, you can shop at a local retailer and they would send something locally to you. So, if that trend is really accelerated, as well.
John: Yeah, there’s all this…This entire industry of Uber everything, Lyft, you know, just delivery, driving, ordering online to get it delivered to you. Fedexing it, Canada Post because it’s all about convenience, right? And people want things yesterday, like the Amazon effect and you as a business owner you need to adapt to it. You need to ensure that your customers are savvy today, they understand what’s out there and they’re very smart in terms of technology as well. So, you need to ensure that you’re able to deliver quickly, on time and efficiently, effectively. So, figure out how to stay…
Roger: And it may…There maybe, you know, everything is a fashion and a trend. The idea of everything going online for shipping and delivery is really popular right now but of course, we’re social animals, John, and once this pandemic finally recedes, I think some people will be, I just want to get out, I just want to walk around, I want to go experience them all again, or whatever so it’s gonna be a mixture of both. But right now this trend, you know, Boy Oh Boy! You know, talking about efficiency, I mean, someone said to me recently, it was a part I needed for something. They said, “You can come by and pick it up.” And I said, “Well, do you have…Can you deliver?” And they said, “Yeah, we can Purolator in two days.” I’m like, “That’s better for me.” So, that’s where I would have at one point gone easily to go get it. Now, send it in. I”ll accept it by Purolator so…
John: So, it all depends on like the urgency of it, as well as you know, right now, we’re still living in this pandemic. So, there’s still a lot of precautions that people have to go through, right? But when things open up again, for sure there is gonna be people out there that are now used to just delivering, buying everything online and having it delivered nicely but like me and you we are social creatures and we want to go to the mall again, go have some dining experience.
Roger: Exactly. Just a change of scenery. The next trend is this E-Commerce. It ties in very much with delivery, John, but E-Commerce Boom. And again, ordering or going online to a website, filling up your cart, it has really accelerated during this pandemic.
John: Yeah, just having the ability to sell a product, service online allows you to hit a different segment of the market that you’ve never done before and allows you to generate additional revenue, right? Because there are shoppers online that are just so comfortable with just buying things online. Let it be food now, let it be buying books and any widget out there but if you haven’t really ventured into this E-Commerce Boom where maybe you are a hair salon and you have supply that you can sell. Create a Shopify site. Allow your existing customers to buy shampoo and conditioner or any of those products online at your E-store, right? Because they are already loyal customers of yours, they can’t come to the physical store. So, might as well offer them something that still allows you to generate some revenue.
Roger: Try…It helps you, helps them become sticky and if they can reorder, not have to drive down to get to you to get the product but you know, again, it depends on the type of service and product you’re offering but just to make it that relationship more connecting. It makes perfect sense and this e-commerce thing is, I mean, everyone should have that available now in their…Depending on the business but have another website.
John: Yeah, it’s brand loyalty ultimately and it’s now, you know, people tend to drip with an email list and other forms of e-commerce but it allows you another avenue to market your services online as well, right? Like not just restrict yourself in that local landscape, in your client base but it could be now global. You can hit more people out there so this is a great opportunity if you haven’t ventured into it. The fourth thing we’re going to talk about is sanitization because now it’s…If you don’t have, you know, this liquid bottle at the store, you’re going to probably move a lot of people that are now comfortable about coming to your store again.
Roger: Yep and certainly the grocery stores, self checkout, the carts you use. If you go to Costco everything is sanitized or sprayed down in between customers. That’s just something you never saw before but we are a society now of sanitation and sanitization so…
John: Exactly and like just, you know, washing your hands but now they sometimes give you gloves, right? Everyone has to wear a mask but the whole purpose is we don’t know the spread, how it spreads, who doesn’t take that extra precaution right? Make sure you clean your hands still, make sure you still as a business owner, you equip your business with what your customers expect. You do that. They will be feeling more comfortable coming back to your store.
Roger: And I have heard…I’ve seen of course, on websites, John, on the like a banner and the very first message saying, “We are sanitizing for your safety.” So, safety and sanitization is so important with consumers that you as a business owner that’s something a trend that you’ve just gotta stay on top of and I’ve heard radio commercials of, you know, it’s actually a LASIK Eye Service. They talk about, “We are completely sanitized and safe and secure for your safety.” So, that messaging is very important and it’s a trend that’s not gonna go away.
John: It’s all about the users, your customers, right? Yeah, like their expectations are so vital for your survival of the business. So, you need to listen, understand what I said online in terms of their behaviors.
Roger: Point number five, John, is I think near and dear to your heart and my heart because we work with…Small businesses is who we are. That’s who we help every day. My family of course, was a small business as well when I was growing up. So, I understand it but this prioritization of consumers wanting to shop small, shop local, support their neighbors in their community.
John: It’s so vital because as you know, you probably have friends and family or neighbors that you connect with on a regular basis and maybe with this pandemic you’ve gotten closer to them because you see them more frequently in walks, and at the park or wherever it may be, the school. So, you understand how important local community building is and for you to now… When things open up, stop and support one another, to really build that community feel again. It means a lot to not just the business owner but for you to have a say in it all, right?
Roger: Exactly and small business as a percentage of total businesses in the country. It’s the vast majority of…That’s what people are. They are small business entrepreneurs and I forget the number but John, it could be under 20 people or under 50 people. Small businesses is the majority and so of course, it helps us, it helps our communities to support each other that way.
John: Exactly. If you think about not just businesses but all the employees that support the small business and you know, it takes a village to support a family, right? Like, it takes a lot of people to support one another. So, we need to ensure that they are around when things open up again. So, continue supporting Local because they are the lifeline of every single city, community and neighborhood in the world.
Roger: Exactly. And I do, you know as business owners listening to this today and of course they’re all over. I would also add the advice to them that their unique selling proposition, whatever their product or service is they need to get that message out so that it’s not…Don’t do business with me just because I’m small, do business with me because I provide something more, you know, a better experience, more expertise, more personalized care, whatever those are. So, I always say, you know, don’t just…You can’t expect people to come to your door just because your small business owner in the community. Provide…You have to go that extra step.
John: Get to know them, right? Get to know people by their first name, personalization is huge, right? Storytelling is huge. Let people in on your life, be yourself.
Roger: Yeah. And of course, that’s how you build your business. Number six, in terms of trends, John, is technology which I think we can all relate to.
John: Oh yes, definitely, it has advanced, allowed your business to hopefully pivot to become more predominantly…People are seeking information before they make a decision and if you were not strong digitally before, that would be building your own website, having social media asset pieces, creating good compelling content. It’s more important than ever to ensure that you have a digital footprint. The more visibility, some content out there to allow people to absorb and make up their mind on who they want to seek out as their product and service offering.
Roger: And then from a business owner standpoint, in terms of depending on people, if you’re an Insurance Brokerage, you’ve got staff. Are they working virtually now? Are they working from home? Are they working remote? Are they doing some sort of, you know, a skeleton staff in the office. Everything’s changed in technology. As a business owner, you’ve got to look at all the different technologies that will assist your team, give them a you know, team building, give that interaction, whether it’s zoom and I think we talked, John, before a year ago at this time. Did many people even know what zoom was, except for maybe some real, you know, business to business or you know, multi location businesses across the country but everybody knows zoom. It’s personally…It’s now for family, search for communication. So, it’s crazy how much technology is out there.
John: Oh yeah, I’ve gone through dozens of zoom birthday meetings but yes, technology. So, understanding when you build a website you need security, you need software, you need collaboration, messaging. If you have multiple staff you need, you know, passwords, you need logins, you need to ensure that you have everything available for your team, your business to run smoothly, optimally. So, that there is no asset that is, you know, hackable. Now we’re… People are very prone to leaving gaps out there if they’re not educated and informed. So, make sure you set things up properly and use proper security and vendors out there that are redundant and global, right? People that you trust, that aren’t gonna to be fly by night companies so make sure. Just be prepared because there’s always good and bad in every business. Make sure you’re connecting with the good.
Roger: Yeah. And item number seven in terms of trends, we’re going to talk about today is virtual events and it sort of slides directly, you know, from what we just spoke of, in terms of technology. Technology is allowing now, John, virtual events. Why travel? Like you and I, when we did that speaking conference in Vancouver a year ago just before the pandemic. Really, a lot of events could rethink why fly, if you can do this and attended it virtually,
John: Yeah, things have definitely changed, right? Trade shows, conferences, speaking but people still want to get out andI think that’s the one thing that is lacking, that social interaction, the brainstorming, collaboration. People have fatigue, like you mentioned, in terms of, you know, technology, video conferencing. They don’t…But as a business like virtual event is here to stay. There’s industries that have developed and built along this. That’d be for business purposes, social purposes, it can be for any networking purpose, it can be even for internal business functions, right? Making sure that you have events that allow for people that are all over globally to connect in. So, it allows for more opportunity as well as, you know…Yes, you’re gonna miss that social aspect but try to intertwine it,make it a hybrid approach.
Roger: And it’s not that it’s all or nothing because there are many, many like car shows or consumer shows. You want to touch and feel and see and that can’t be done virtually but out of pandemic rose this idea of the ability of keeping things going virtually in the meantime so…
John: And I believe a couple years ago, there were virtual reality goggles, right? Where you can experience travel through virtual reality. However, if I were wanting to travel to a different country, I want to first experience it. Maybe that whole business has expedited because of what just transpired here but you know, think about different opportunities that this world throws at us.
Roger: So, that’s that trend and of course…And then the last one today, we’ll talk about is working from home. Again, it was many, many businesses and of course, when I was in corporate a decade ago, they moved many of the employees home even then but it accelerated even further and more with this pandemic last year.
John: Yeah, I believe we already did a podcast about working from home but it’s so important to understand that people are either gonna enjoy working from home or not. It’s something that’s now out there because people were forced to work from home so now they had a taste of it. They now either like it or not when things open up but a lot of people may really love working from home and they save a lot of time from commute, stress, you know, changing and all this other stuff, right? Because you could sleep in now, you can do things a little bit later and enjoy different things, right? You need to set yourself up properly, if you’re home based.
Roger: And that is, again, that trend isn’t gonna go away and at the end of the day, will it be a hybrid as you mentioned, John, that you’ll be going to the office sometimes and then working from home sometimes or whatever. It really will, it’ll come down to it. But yes, we’re human beings and there’s a social aspect and in a major survey and I remember seeing this and reading it and it makes perfect sense. The number one reason many, many employees stay at a company is because of the social interaction and their friends. So, you know, working from home…Yes, is very convenient but the idea of having friends and interacting and you know, doing that, you know, just being human beings and social is incredibly important to people so…
John: It all depends on your life stage, right? So, if you’re younger, you need that social interaction to get through the day but as you know, mature, maybe you have a family, you want to spend more time with your family and you don’t want to commute. So, it all depends on the person, individualize and just enjoy the process. Have fun, right? But working from home is not for everyone. I get it, but it is here to stay for a lot of industries and business.
Roger: Well, John, I thought that was terrific today. I really appreciate your time and some of your thoughts on this and it’s great to get perspective. And I think our listeners today will be able to take some things away from this as well and maybe just get them to think a little bit more about all these trends.
John: Amazing. Well, thanks a lot Roger for this.
Roger: John, thank you and thanks to our listeners and we’ll see you again at Local SEO Today.