Local Businesses: Adapting During COVID-19

Here we are half-way through 2020, and oh, what a year! This year has been anything but easy. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected our health, our social life, and our businesses. Today, we must not only work as competitive marketers, but also live as such. How? Continuously adapting to change. While big companies have managed to slowly do so, small and local businesses have been the most affected during these COVID-19 times. 

What has changed?

In order to keep businesses open, a variety of changes have been put in place globally. These changes have lead to unexpected rises in economic expenses. Unfortunately, some have also resulted in massive employee layoffs in certain fields. Other fields however, such as those that provide any online experience, have had the opposite effect with a rise of job opportunities. Other market shifts have been:

  • Adapting to health regulations

Businesses all over the world have had to implement new in-store regulations. Some businesses now require staff to wear face masks and gloves, as well as taking temperatures daily upon entrance. General store regulations include limiting store occupancy, increased cleaning/sanitation, practicing social distancing, and implementing hand sanitizing stations. However, other businesses have had to close down their in-person stores indefinitely.  

  • Rise of Online Orders

Businesses have had to re-think how to deliver their goods and services to their consumers. Traditional ways, such as in-store purchasing, have been limited or completely removed by COVID-19. Businesses have had to adapt their delivery method, while also trying to maintain their quality factor. Are these new delivery methods keeping customers happy? Strong customer loyalty plays a role during these times. Former customers should be able to understand their new ways of doing business and keep purchasing, if the B-C relationship is strong. Businesses should also be aware of not risking their product/service quality, while implementing their new strategies.  

We now see many businesses promoting an online order option. Some will include delivery, but others have also opted for a “curbside only” or “in-store only” pickup option. These options may reduce the amount of people in contact with the order, making it one of the best alternatives for consumer purchases. However, this new method also has its setbacks. Nick Alami, general manager at Vegan International Co, stated to “have lost a certain demographic due to resistance of using an online platform.” While Zoomers and Millennials are likely to welcome these online options, older generations likely to push back on these changes.

  • Community Awareness

Increased local business support is one of the positive business aspects that COVID-19 has brought. More people have become aware of the importance of supporting local businesses. Community support has many benefits such as building the local economy, obtaining unique products and customer experiences, generating more jobs, as well as creating stronger community bonds. Businesses that have added a personal touch into marketing strategies, have seen the support of local members. Social media has been filled with business stories showing their vulnerability during these dark time.

How is the Tampa Bay community doing? Alami stated to have seen a rise on their average tip amount. During COVID-19 this tip has risen from an average 7% to almost 10% showing “that people appreciate us still operating and taking the safest steps possible to keep them safe.” He also mentioned experiencing a shift of “busy professionals who normally wouldn’t have time to wait in line at our store are using a scheduled order feature that allows their meal to be ready as soon as they enter the parking lot for pickup.”

Our New Normal

The overwhelming amount of uncertainty that surrounds this pandemic has been rough for everyone, both on a personal and a professional level. As consumers, we must understand the importance of supporting our local business, and try to do so on a daily basis. It is definitely an interesting time to see how businesses adapt their strategies into our new normal. The marketing field in particular, should be looked at closely as creativity is inevitably on the rise. While some businesses may be better off than others, they must all change their ways of doing business. What lies ahead? Only time will tell. What we do know is that we must all adapt into our new normal. 

Veronica Scarlett Lopez Martin is originally from Caracas, Venezuela. Scarlett is currently pursuing her master’s degree in Instructional Design & Technology at The University of Tampa. She previously worked at CenturyLink as a CSM- Client Support Manager within the strategic enterprise and government markets division. She graduated in May 2018 from The University of Tampa with a Bachelor’s Degree in International Business and Marketing. Scarlett is a blogger for the AMA Tampa Bay, with a background in marketing & technology.

Connect with her on LinkedIn.