Why E-Commerce Is Critical to Small Business Survival in the Corona Virus Outbreak

6 min. read

The new coronavirus COVID-19 threatens to close many small businesses around the globe. We would like to propose a way of getting out of the economic crisis even stronger than before: by building an eCommerce website.

In late 2019, a novel coronavirus named SARS-CoV-2 emerged in the city of Wuhan, China. Since its appearance, it has spread to 196 countries and territories and affected around 400,000 people. 


It was found that the coronavirus threatens the respiratory tract, leading to pneumonia. The lungs can get filled with inflammatory material and become unable to get enough oxygen to the bloodstream. Up to this day, COVID-19 has resulted in more than 17,000 deaths worldwide.


But the respiratory tract is not the only thing that this virus threatens to destroy. Small companies have also been negatively affected by the coronavirus pandemic that chased buyers into their homes, scared to come out.


So, is there a way for small business survival in these turbulent times? We say, "yes!"


You can keep the cash flowing in by simply creating a digital commerce website for your business. 


It's cost-effective, smart, and it can be done in a matter of days.


The Business Impact of the Coronavirus

Travel restrictions, social-distancing measures, and large-scale quarantines have led to a sharp decline in consumer spending. 


Consumers stay home, companies lose revenue and lay off workers, and unemployment levels rise sharply.


Some industries have experienced more devastating losses than others. The travel industry, as well as restaurants and hotels, have been terribly damaged. One report by the analytics company ForwardKeys suggested that around 48,200 flights with 10.2 million seats could be affected by the travel ban. Restaurant bookings in many countries like Canada and Germany have almost entirely collapsed. 


According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the world's economy could experience its slowest growth since 2009. 


Depending on how the pandemic will end, it's highly likely that all sizes of companies will feel the economic side-effects for many months after it's done.


Ecommerce Is Growing in the Middle of the Crisis

Apart from big businesses like the oil and the travel industry, there's another group of fragile businesses that are at a significant threat by the coronavirus outbreak: small businesses. 


Many small business owners are fearful for the future of their businesses. One survey by the National Small Business Association has discovered that three in four small business owners are scared about the economic consequences of the coronavirus. Staggering 50% of them have already experienced reduced customer demand, and 38% feel unsure about their financial future. 


The JPMorgan Chase Institute estimates that the average small business has 27 days of cash in reserve.


As a result, many small businesses have been closing their doors for an uncertain amount of time. Many of them may never reopen. 


But amid this economic crisis that has largely affected small businesses, one trend keeps on gaining more prominence. A large number of small businesses are presenting their online stores to the public for the first time. These brave businesses have decided to take advantage of the technology that's available to them and create an eCommerce website.


These are smart businesses. They've come to understand that to get ahead of this virus, you need to join the online world. Others already have an online presence, but they're now learning to navigate the eCommerce space.


In fact, implementing a digital commerce website has never been easier with technology like online payments and options for home delivery. 


If you're an owner of a small business, opening an online store could be the key to retaining your customers and growing your business. With a successful online business in place, there's a high possibility that your business will still be alive once the pandemic passes. 


Are you looking for a fast and easy e-commerce platform to build your small business? Save the headache of trying to learn how to build an eCommerce store on your own and let us help you

Examples of How Businesses Can Sell Online

Not every small business will be able to move its operations online. For example, if you have a small bike repair shop, you don't have a product to sell, even if you create an online store.


But a large number of businesses have something to sell. 


For example, let's say that you're the owner of a small restaurant. Your product is your nicely prepared food and your intricate recipes. You can easily create an eCommerce website where you'll allow your customers to complete an order from the comforts of their homes. Many businesses have also been introducing a "no contact" delivery to minimize human-to-human contact and boost sales. Nothing stands in your way to do the same.


Or, let's assume that you have a beautiful vintage retail shop in your city's center. Your product is those vintage pieces that have experienced a huge comeback in recent years. What you can do is create an online store and make your vintage pieces available for online purchase. Your customers can pay online and receive their pieces of clothing in no time.


Even if your business is a flower shop, you can sell your floral arrangements online. With people sitting in their homes self-isolating, many of them will want to decorate their interior by adding beautiful bouquets of flowers they will order from your store.


Top 3 Benefits of an eCommerce Store

Maintain existing customer relationship

If you want to keep your business afloat, you need to maintain the relationship you have with your customers. 


In these challenging times, many businesses have closed their doors with plans to reopen once the pandemic stops. But even if you reopen, who can guarantee that all of your customers will return? Maybe some of them will start purchasing products from your competitors that beat you to the bush and have created an online shop.


To stay ahead of your competitors, and remain relevant to your customers, give them the opportunity to obtain your products online. This will let them know you care about them and want to help them get through this tough period.


Anyone can shop for anything right from a living room

The coronavirus has closed us into our homes. Instead of going to the mall physically, everyone is sitting in their living rooms, trying to buy something from their couch.


By creating an online store, you're making shopping for your products easy and convenient. People can simply add whichever product they love into an online cart and make a purchase, all done with a few clicks of a mouse. 


In a nutshell, all you need is an eCommerce store, while your customers need an Internet connection and a device.


It's cost-effective and scalable

You can easily create your own online store with the help of an eCommerce platform. eCommerce platforms are the quickest and most cost-effective way of creating a store. What's more, there's a wide range of platforms to choose from, including Shopify and Magento. Starting from this month, Exai will also be offering eCommerce store services.


You can opt to create the store yourself or hire someone to do it for you. Keep in mind that this will cost you more. 


The best part? Online stores are scalable. Meaning, instead of only selling locally, you can grow your business to sell to other cities, even countries


The Importance of Being Proactive

No business that had an inactive owner has ever survived. Especially in times like these, when thousands of businesses are struggling, you must find fast and innovative ways to adapt to the current crisis.


You must consider the fact that the pandemic may have a long-term effect on people's behavior. They may get accustomed to online shopping and stop visiting physical stores as often as they used to before the pandemic. In other words, if you grab the chance to move your business online, you'll have a greater chance of generating revenue in the long term. 


Staying proactive and upping your game can be key to retaining your customers. Those who will act immediately to protect their business and address business challenges will be those who survive. 


There will be obstacles on the road, but you can not allow your business to grind to a halt. It's time to adapt, evolve, and move forward.


The Process of Opening an Ecommerce Website

Many businesses already have an online presence in the form of a nice website. But some of these businesses now have to learn how to navigate the digital commerce realm which can be challenging for many.


But the process of creating your online store doesn't have to be complicated. In fact, it's far easier to open an online store today than it was four or five years ago. Today, you have many eCommerce platforms that let you design a store in a matter of days. 


Overall, the process includes eight crucial steps:


  1. Choose an eCommerce website builder. Your options include Exai, Shopify, WooCommerce, Magento, and Wix. These platforms offer a variety of plans, ranging from $20/month for smaller websites up to $300/month for advanced websites. 

  2. Choose a domain name. If you don't have a website, then the next step is to get a domain name. The domain name should be the name of your business or related to your niche. 

  3. Choose your theme. Choosing a theme can be overwhelming, as you will have hundreds of themes to choose from. Keep in mind that the theme will be the overall feel and look of your website. 

  4. Create product pages. This step will probably require a lot of time, especially if you have many products. You will have to choose a product name for each one of your products, write product descriptions that sell, and take professional photos of your products. 

  5. Create company pages. After you create your product pages, there are a few more pages to put together. That's the homepage, about us page, and a contact page. 

  6. Set up your payments. This step involves giving basic business info, personal info, and your bank account so that the platform can send money to you.

  7. Purchase an SSL certificate. An SSL certificate is like an online ID card that says, "this website is safe and secure from outside threats." It will ensure that your customers' private information stays secure. If a customer arrives at your site and doesn't see an SSL certificate, they may hesitate to make a purchase. 

  8. Launch your eCommerce store. As soon as you complete all of the steps outlined above, you can finally present your store to the public. Promote it to your customers and start growing traffic. 

Are you looking for a fast and easy e-commerce platform to build your small business? Save the headache of trying to learn how to build an eCommerce store on your own and let us help you

How Exai Can Help

Many governments around the world have been coming up with programs to ensure small business survival in their countries. Small business owners can apply for small business loans, or they can explore private sector grants. 


But from thousands of people applying from loans and grants, there's a chance your business won't even get it. If you want to play safe, a smart move would be to apply to these small business programs and create an online business.


By doing so, you're giving your business a chance to survive in this difficult time. 


So, if you're looking for a comprehensive and cost-effective eCommerce platform to build your website, look no further than Exai Website Builder. 


Starting from this month, apart from CMS migration and managed hosting, our clients can now create their online store on our platform. The best part? We will do it for you! We have a team of expert designers who will be working on creating the most attractive and effective store for your brand, day and night.


Some of the eCommerce features we're offering include:


1. Auto-creation of product and category pages

2. Automatic creation of online shopping cart and checkout pages

3. Auto-update of product data across the entire website

4. Payment gateways available: Paypal express checkout and Worldpay online

5. Order management


Final Word

Your physical store is probably low on customers or has closed its doors entirely. But your store can survive this coronavirus if you simply move it online. In this time, when everyone is socially distancing in their own homes, having the chance to make an online purchase of your products can be a silver lining.


Don't let your competitors steal your customers by thinking ahead of you while you sit and wait for the crisis to be over. Take the matter into your hands and create a beautiful eCommerce store today. It can be the start of unimaginable business success for you.


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