Four tips for small businesses to emerge resilient from the pandemic

Whether it’s a local service provider, a quirky fashion retailer or someone jumping on the latest foodie trend, small businesses embody the passionate, flexible Aussie entrepreneurial spirit. As the retail and commerce landscape dramatically shifted in 2020 with the pandemic, many small businesses have evolved with their customers online, using digital to drive growth.

Because although the pandemic may not be here forever, many of the new retail trends driven by the pandemic will be. So, here are four tips to help your business come out of the pandemic from a position of strength.

Create a smooth (front and back end) omnichannel experience

According to the 2021 Consumer Spending Trends report by BigCommerce and PayPal, consumers are moving rapidly from in-person to online shopping, using their phones to make purchases and discovering new products on social media. In fact, 53.3 per cent of Australians are spending more online and less in-person, while 26.5 per cent feel that online shopping now trumps the in-store experience.

It’s therefore critical that small businesses provide a consistent and convenient shopping experience across every touchpoint – social media, digital marketplaces and in-store. This means having a connected experience, across both front and back ends.

For example, consumers may want to add an item to their online shopping cart and then have it waiting to be tried on when they arrive at the physical store. To facilitate this, you need your backend to be integrated with things like reporting, payments, inventory and order management, as well as third-party partners such as your POS system provider.

Foolproof your business and customers’ information with robust fraud protection measures

Safeguarding against cybercrime and consumer fraud is increasingly a top priority and one that requires constant vigilance. In 2020 alone, the ACCC reported Australians lost over $851 million to scams.

You may think your website is too small to be of much interest to online criminals, but the truth is fraudsters will target any opportunity they can. While fraud can take place both in-store and online, you can help reduce the risk of online fraud by ensuring your website and the marketplaces you sell through are using a payment provider with robust fraud protections. For example, PayPal uses intelligence from across our network combined with machine learning and analytics to continually help minimise fraudulent activity.

Provide customers with alternate and flexible payment options

Choice and flexibility is the name of the game for small businesses today and offering a mix of payment methods is essential to driving a successful shopping experience. The PayPal 2020 eCommerce Index revealed that nearly a third (31 per cent) of consumers have abandoned an online purchase or payment because their preferred payment method wasn’t available.

It is essential to craft the shopping experience from the customer’s perspective. Consider how you can enable the payment options that your consumers want to use. For example, you could offer your customers alternative funding options to help them spread out purchases over a longer payment period, such as buy-now, pay-later.

Make data-driven decisions

It is vital to leverage your data efficiently to make informed decisions. Data provides an understanding of your consumers and their preferences, which can help you drive better customer experiences and ultimately improve your bottom line.

Start small – look at how your data can help you with practical tasks such as managing stock, product ranging and mix, driving pricing strategies and encouraging more customers to make purchases. Ultimately, by using data effectively, you can also drive good marketing campaigns, which will help drive sales and increase brand awareness.