When the pandemic hit, Carolina Sanchez-Hervas had to make big changes to her small business. Limited by government restrictions, his company CSH Translations, which provides live interpretation for court cases, began offering virtual services to support clients whose needs could not wait. Although the transition was difficult at first, it helped her business grow in unexpected ways.
By operating virtually, “you can work with talent from anywhere,” says Sanchez-Hervas. “I can find the best Italian translator and not just the one who is close to me.”
She is one of many small business owners who have embraced pandemic-era trends for the long haul, not just to accommodate public health guidelines, but to diversify and grow their income. As the pandemic crosses the two-year mark, here are three trends that are here to stay.
How it started: For small businesses offering professional services, social distancing requirements have made day-to-day operations difficult or impossible. To maintain cash flow, some companies have moved to virtual services.
Before going virtual, “we were all in a closed room for eight hours without a mask or anything,” says Sanchez-Hervas, “I think everyone had to adapt because it was no longer an option to do in person”.
According to TD Bank, a quarter of small business owners who changed their operations in 2020 switched to virtual options like video conferencing appointments.
Why it stuck: Going virtual “opens up a lot of doors and possibilities,” says Sanchez-Hervas.
Now, the Sanchez-Hervas translation business not only offers a new service of virtual language lessons, but can also hire the best candidates, regardless of their location.
Many small business owners who have found that similar changes in their business models have helped their business grow are likely to continue with virtual services, as Sanchez-Hervas plans to do.
Take advantage of social platforms
How it started: In 2020, Stephanie and Kevin Lin, siblings and co-founders of clothing brand Kestan, had to temporarily close their storefront due to lockdown orders. During this time, they relied on social media to connect with customers.
“That’s where we started to see a lot of change,” Kevin says.
Stephanie started posting about how she curated designs for their store and used the Instagram Live feature to interact with followers while sketching out potential ideas. The new strategy paid off and Kestan began to receive orders from all over the country.
“I think the nature of the relationship between brands and consumers is getting a little closer these days,” she says. “And I love that.”
Why it stuck: A mid-2020 survey by GWI, a global marketing research firm, showed that 47% of internet users typically use social media to discover new brands.
“Before the pandemic, people sort of thought social media was an asset,” says Elyse Flynn Meyer, owner of Prism Global Marketing Solutions, a digital marketing firm specializing in inbound marketing. “It really is a must-to-have.”
Adopt online sales
How it started: As public health guidelines encouraged more people to stay home, many small businesses that previously relied on in-person sales quickly moved online. Finding these alternative sales channels was a quick lesson for physical stores. Of the businesses that started accepting online payments in 2020, 52% started doing so between February and April, according to payment platform Square.
And the growth continued. In the United States, e-commerce grew 3.3 times faster in 2020 than it had on average in the previous five years, according to analysis by the McKinsey Global Institute in 2021.
“It’s not e-commerce anymore. It’s trade,” says Justin Bauer, senior vice president of product at Amplitude, a digital optimization company. “It’s all about this digital experience.”
Online purchases increased by around 47% in the first months of the pandemic, according to a 2021 study by Amplitude. It peaked last summer, Bauer says, and has stabilized at a level he believes will set a new baseline for e-commerce.
Why it stuck: After nearly two years of shopping online, consumers have become comfortable with the convenience of ordering from home.
“Consumers are increasingly telling us they’re not going to change their behaviors,” said Jeni Mundy, global head of merchant sales and acquiring at Visa. “What we’ve heard from small businesses is that these changes are here to stay.”
Online sales have also become a major source of revenue for some businesses. Visa research found that small businesses that had e-commerce channels earned more than half of their revenue from online sales in the final quarter of 2021. It expects these trends to continue. meeting consumer expectations.
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Whitney Vandiver writes for NerdWallet. Email: [email protected]
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