(BPT) - If you own a small business, or frequently shop at one, you know that COVID-19 has instantly changed everything. As brick-and-mortar shops have had to temporarily close to customers, the need to adapt has never been greater.
For small businesses willing to reinvent themselves, going digital — or ramping up your digital operation if you already have one — can help weather the storm. There are plenty of tools available to help your business survive — and even thrive — through the pandemic and beyond.
“Helping small businesses find fast paths to recovery as they navigate an overnight move to digital commerce is a top priority at Visa,” says Jack Forestell, Chief Product Officer, Visa. "Using our network, partners and products, we help sellers get online easily and maximize their digital experience to reach more customers."
Forestell details six insights about today's current landscape including ways your business can pivot and master the strategies to move forward.
Consumers are going digital in this remote world, you should too.
Millions of new buyers are shopping online, some for the first time, and many more are shopping for items they never thought they would buy outside of their local businesses. To keep them shopping with you, your business should provide a convenient, easy-to-use online shopping experience, along with a marketing approach to boost your digital presence.
Use your existing customer email/mailing list to let customers know they’ll be able to find your business online soon — even if you’re not yet ready to launch. Reminding loyal customers of your business is key during this transition period, before their new shopping habits have solidified.
Strengthen your digital toolkit to meet customers in new ways
A study conducted by Visa in 2018 found that less than half (46%) of U.S. small businesses had an online presence of any kind. If your business doesn’t yet have a website, or if you don't have an eCommerce platform, your first priority will be setting that up. Using an eCommerce platform like Shopify can help you pivot to an online business quickly.
If your business does have a website, find out if your web hosting service has an eCommerce plugin you can add. You could also research using an eCommerce plugin that connects to your point of sale (POS) system, if you have one.
Other tasks on your to-do list may involve figuring out how to manage your inventory and product pickup and/or shipping.
Once you’re ready to launch your online business, reach out to customers and make use of social media to get the word out that you're open for business.
Offer contactless payments — avoiding contact while buying is better for health and safety for your employees and customers
With many businesses eager to welcome customers back into stores, their return also will bring new protocols and procedures. Offering contactless payment options in-store means customers can tap and go, avoiding the need for them to touch the checkout terminal.
Not only is tapping to pay a reliable solution, contactless transactions are secured with dynamic EMV® Chip security technology that has already shown to drastically reduce counterfeit fraud.
Using an established leader in contactless transacting, like Visa, helps you and your customers have a seamless experience. Visa works with partners worldwide to support secure transactions, with capabilities that are constantly updated to help meet today’s challenges.
Send money digitally instead of using checks
Build your business and pay employees securely by partnering with an experienced financial network. As circumstances quickly change, employees and customers need and expect quick and secure access to their money digitally. For example, Visa offers fast and secure money movement options. Through Visa Direct, companies can pay employees or gig workers quickly by moving money to Visa debit cards in real time. It can also make transactions easier for small business owners who need funds for their business.
Access data to drive real time business decisions
Partnering with Visa can help provide businesses of any size with useful data and analytics to inform critical business decisions as you deal with the new influx of online activity. Insights from that data can help you assess purchase risks and understand the wider marketplace as your business adapts to the “new normal.”
Protect your business and your customers
Due to the many disruptions caused by the pandemic, there has been a significant increase in disputes between buyers and sellers. The need for transparency — plus protections for both buyers and sellers — has never been more crucial. Through Verifi, Visa offers services to help prevent and resolve disputes before they become chargebacks.
Whether a business is new to online, experiencing an influx of customers and/or rapidly revamping an online presence, our new normal is causing businesses to pivot and prioritize digital. Visa can help businesses shift to an online-led selling strategy that works wherever you are in the world. To help your small business adapt, visit Partner.Visa.com.
 Visa Digital Transformation of SMBs, 2018 https://usa.visa.com/dam/VCOM/global/run-your-business/documents/digital-transformation-of-smbs.pdf
 Actual fund availability depends on receiving financial institution and region.