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How small businesses can continue to grow amidst a pandemic

For nearly two years, the pandemic has continued to force small businesses to shift the way they do business. When 2020 lockdowns began, having a functional website and online store became essential tools, with all facets of business depending on it.

And with each subsequent wave and variant, the importance of businesses having a digital presence only increased—consumers spent $791.70 billion online in the U.S. in 2020, up a whopping 32.4% from the year prior. In 2021, seemingly temporary solutions businesses pivoted with became the “newest normal” redefining the way small business owners work and what it takes to not only survive, but thrive.

As we embark on yet another year of the pandemic, things still aren’t looking like business as usual. Small businesses must continue to adapt quickly to consumers’ changing habits and needs. Many are more tightly integrating their online and brick-and-mortar operations as customers prefer to interact both online and in-person, exemplified during online orders with prepaid curbside pickup. 

Greg Goldfarb, VP of Products and Commerce at GoDaddy, shares how small businesses can lean into new innovations and technology trends spurred by the pandemic to simplify shopping for customers, boost customer loyalty and grow their business.

Use technology to provide customers more convenient ways to shop

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While brands are running their brick-and-mortar locations, due to the pandemic many now have an online store open for business, allowing customers the choice between shopping in-person, online for delivery or online with in-store pickup. Consumer’s personal comfort levels have varied throughout the pandemic, and due to this new hybrid way of shopping sparked by the pandemic, new consumer habits have formed. They expect more options, and ultimately more convenience. Small businesses that can meet those demands are going to be a step ahead of the rest. 

A recent survey commissioned by GoDaddy and conducted by OnePoll revealed four in five Millennials (82%) specifically said they would be more likely to purchase from a small business if they can place their order for delivery or pickup. Business owners should look at ways they can integrate tools like curbside pick-up, QR codes and contactless payments like Apple Pay, expanded outdoor dining options, video classes rather than requiring people to meet in-person and more. Providing more customizable shopping experiences for customers will build the loyalty needed to keep them coming back.

Update to a smarter, digital commerce solution

With many small business owners selling in new places and across new platforms, managing orders and sales from various channels and keeping inventory up to date is essential to providing a seamless and positive experience for customers. There has never been a more important time to have a modern, digital commerce solution that provides a one-stop shop across ecommerce and point of sale along with integrated payments. 

Companies like GoDaddy, which recently launched a commerce solution that offers businesses the ability to sell, track and manage sales in more places than any other comparable platform, simplify this process for small businesses. GoDaddy’s commerce solution empowers businesses in three ways: It provides two new point of sale devices fully integrated with WooCommerce and GoDaddy Online Stores to support scenarios like buy online with scheduled in-store pickup. It incorporates GoDaddy Payments for both e-commerce and POS transactions at industry-leading low rates, so businesses can keep more of what they make. And it also provides one convenient dashboard where business owners can see the state of their business in a single snapshot, including visual graphs mapping sales and orders, payment transaction and deposits details, and the ability to compare the performance of sales across all the marketplaces that business sells.

Tapping into smarter technologies helps entrepreneurs future-proof their business, save time and grow their customer base. 

Sell where customers are, without sacrificing brand consistency

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Along with the need for an engaging online store, the success of a business in today’s climate also depends on reaching customers wherever they are. As transactions become more digital, small businesses cannot solely rely on “location, location, location,” and need to adopt an expanded mindset of where they need to be present—while remaining consistent across each channel. 

Consumers are shopping across the world’s biggest marketplaces, whether that’s through channels like Amazon, Etsy and eBay, or directly on social platforms they engage with daily. During a 2021 survey over 47 percent of responding social media users from the US aged 16 to 34 have purchased products or services on Instagram. Now more than ever, businesses need to be seemingly everywhere at once. However, small businesses should focus on a small handful of channels that matter most to their specific product category. Because while there are always new platforms and endless creative ways to sell to customers, it can quickly be confusing to manage them all and draining to figure out how to break through. 

There are tools available that provide businesses with a simple and intuitive way to connect their online points of presence, including social platforms, marketplaces and a website or online store. For example, GoDaddy’s Website Builder now has an integrated Facebook and Instagram Ad Builder that enables small business owners to easily create and manage paid advertising across Facebook and Instagram from a single login. From that same dashboard business owners can add products to across places like Google Shopping, Etsy, Amazon and more. Operating under a commerce platform like GoDaddy that automates brand consistency, best practice selling across channels, leverages a single product catalog and inventory, and enables businesses to manage all orders from one place makes a huge difference.   

As we move forward, businesses both small and large will need to closely examine how nimble and interconnected their systems are. The past two years have brought continuous ebbs and flows in which side of a business—online or in-person—served as a cornerstone or supporting pillar and proven that the speed your business is able to adapt is where successful brands catch their edge. Change is inevitably part of our foreseeable future; is your restaurant ready to shift with evolving consumer behaviors and preferences? And how quickly can your business make those changes? Companies that connect all of their offline and online points of presence create a seamless experience designed to swivel with your business as the proverbial pendulum swings. Building that kind of consistency for customers is how to lean into the “new normal” and position your business for growth in 2022 and beyond.