5 Ways Businesses are Shifting to Digital During COVID-19
In the face of COVID-19, businesses across the country are being forced to shift their strategies in order to serve customers and stay afloat. If you’re a brick-and-mortar business, getting customers through the door is how you succeed. When everyday foot traffic stops being an option, it’s time to get creative.
To inspire businesses as they continue to shift to digital, here are 5 ideas that can help during COVID-19:
1. Change how you Serve Customers
Nick Kokonas of the Chicago restaurant Alinea developed a new way for restaurants to use his online reservation service Tock as a to-go service. Alinea is a fine-dining experience with three Michelin stars — Michelin’s highest honor. Delivering the same experience remotely is impossible, but there are other ways to adapt. COVID-19 prompted the launch of Tock To Go. Now, many high-end restaurants are using Tock To Go to bring fine dining into people’s homes.
2. Create Content People Want
Lost Lake, a popular Chicago bar, created a fundraising email newsletter via GoFundMe to help support their staff and business. The newsletter gives customers access to tips, crossword puzzles, and cocktail recipes to try at home. If you can’t serve customers in person, find another way to provide them value. Sharing an entertaining newsletter with your expertise is a good way to call on your customers for support.
3. Let your Audience Watch from Home!
A‘QuaranTeam’ of 10 performers from The Annoyance Theater in Chicago turned their improv abilities into a 10-day lockdown livestream. By creatively putting on a show for an empty theater, the team raised funds with a funny concept and some safe entertainment.
Does your business regularly host events like webinars, parties, or meetups? Sell discounted tickets or ask for donations to help support your business operations while delivering something valuable. When people can’t be with your business in-person, they can still be with you virtually. Technology platforms like Zoom, live social media, and Google Hangouts are gold for creating a great virtual customer experience.
4. Create New Opportunities for People to Support you
Some businesses may seem like they can only exist in person, but now is the time to challenge that. The Chicago Area Runners Association brings people together for weekly runs, and it would seem like there’s not much the non-profit could do to keep operating. At least, at first glance.
CARA set up community events and services that members can do on their own time. CARA organized a Social Distance Run for members to do safe social distance runs and share their run experiences. This shift helps your business by helping your customer remain engaged with something they love. By creating new opportunities where they can still interact with you, you can help people stay in touch with each other — and your business.
5. Collaborate with others to create unique products
COVID-19 is impacting countless businesses and freelancers that all need to get creative and need some extra help to stay operational. If your business can outsource work and collaborate on new products, now is the time to explore those opportunities.
The Hideout, a local Chicago bar, started a GoFundMe when forced to close due to the coronavirus risk. But that isn’t all. The Hideout started working with artists who also need support during this time to print (and sell online) a series of collectible art-objects called “Hideout Bucks.” The cost of a Hideout Buck gives money to the bar, the artists, and the customer (who can redeem bucks for drinks when the bar reopens). Look for opportunities to work alongside other businesses and support each other as you move online.
While the shift to digital may seem daunting for those that have relied on in-person business for years, now is the time to stretch outside of your comfort zone and find new ways to connect with customers. Offering new opportunities, virtual experiences, creative content and more is the recipe for a customer experience that resonates far after this crisis.