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Combating COVID-19: How to mobilize your business online

The impact of COVID-19 is forcing SMBs to pivot their business model to adapt to the changing economic landscape. In this article series we will examine how this can be achieved through the checkout.

The impact of COVID-19 has been sudden, severe, and looks set to last. The battle to contain and ultimately overcome the pandemic will be long and challenging; many people are already suffering catastrophic personal loss, and the global consensus is that the situation will continue to get worse before it gets better.

But it isn’t the only the human cost of the global pandemic that is having a generational impact on society. The economic impact is also on a scale that has never been seen or even contemplated previously; stay at home orders and a surge in unemployment are just two factors that have contributed to a stagnation of a sizeable percentage of the economy, and this has been felt severely by the small-to-medium sized business (SMB) community.

For SMBs that rely on a regular influx of customers and face-to-face sales to sustain their businesses, social distancing regulations are particularly crippling. Retail stores and hospitality businesses such as bars and restaurants simply cannot cover the costs of their overhead during the pandemic without continuing to make sales.

It is therefore essential for SMBs to be able to pivot their model in order to adjust to the new reality of their business environment. And if, as many experts expect, the length of crisis stretches from weeks to months, it is even more critical that this is done successfully and efficiently.

So, what are some of the tactics that businesses can employ to mitigate some of the impact of COVID-19?

Pivoting from in-store to online

One obvious major consequence of social distancing due to COVID-19 is the shift from in-person to online shopping. This includes sectors such as the restaurant industry; in many cases the regulations for registering takeaway and delivery food services have been relaxed to enable restaurants to offer this service in lieu of operating a dining room. In the US for example, restaurants and quick serve restaurants have been classified as essential businesses, meaning that they are eligible to stay open regardless of the social distancing regulations.

For SMBs that can offer products or services online but don’t have a digital sales presence currently, launching a working online shopping site quickly and securely is perhaps the most direct way to pivot the business to adapt to the current conditions. By enabling customers to make purchases online businesses can counteract many of issues created by social distancing measures.

Of course, in many ways this is easier said than done. Building a website and developing an online presence through digital marketing and other endeavours takes some time. So does informing your current customer base that they can now make purchases from you digitally. But speed is of the essence. Every day that a business is not making sales is a day closer to potentially going out of business altogether, so launching an online business in any form as quickly as possible has to be the right strategy for the current climate.

Get online fast

The checkout is the lifeblood of any online business; merchants must be able to accept online payments to be successful. And they must be able to do so securely in order to protect them and their customers from being victims of fraud, and in a simple and user-friendly manner. And while this may seem a daunting prospect for retail businesses, by working with your payments services provider to take the checkout online businesses might be surprised at how rapid and seamless moving to digital payment acceptance can be.

A business that has previously only had a physical presence should be able to set up their online website and accept online payments within 48 hours. Here are two ways this can be accomplished.

1. Plug in a shopping cart solution

One option for merchants with an online presence but that doesn’t currently accept payments online is to plug in a shopping cart solution. Merchants are also able to accept payments from multiple alternative payments methods to credit cards such as digital wallets and can initiate more advanced payments services such as recurring payments and invoicing. For merchants that want to focus on the long-term potential of building an online presence as well as the immediate need, an online payment gateway that offers this level of flexibility for future development as well as a rapid go-to-market timeline is an ideal solution.

Of course, businesses that are moving online for the first time, and at speed, will inevitably be concerned that their checkouts are secure from fraudulent activity, and that they do not become victims to excessive chargeback fees and inventory loss due to eCommerce naivety. Unfortunately, history tells us that criminality surges during unsettling periods of history, and the COVID-19 pandemic looks to be no different.

So, merchants must partner with a gateway provider that enables businesses to monitor and evaluate transactions for fraud and restricts activity from specific IP addresses if fraud is suspected. Sensitive data must also be stored secured in a PCI DSS compliant manner, meaning that that customers are able to store card data and shipping locations for the optimum user experience but in a protected manner.

2. Making your POS terminal digital

Business that are already using a POS system, like Clover, to take payments in-store can utilize the same system to take payments online. By leveraging existing functions through the POS dashboard, a merchant can build an online presence capable of receiving payments in under 48 hours. This rapid go-to-market product is not only a speedy solution to maintaining a sales outlet during social distancing, it is also PCI compliant and secure.

Want to find out more about taking your business online efficiently and securely? Speak to our experts at Paysafe today about the most effective option to launch your online checkout within the next 48 hours.