If there’s anything the recent COVID-19 pandemic has taught the world, it’s that you have to be ready for anything—global catastrophe included. The pandemic dealt a crushing blow to a lot of businesses, especially the small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that relied mostly on their brick-and-mortar stores for their revenue.
But it was also during these tough times that the same businesses came up with the most innovative solutions to cope with lockdown and quarantine restrictions. Using solutions like digital payment systems and delivery apps, businesses with physical stores were able to not only survive, but also even thrive in this unpredictable environment.
The brunt of the pandemic may have passed, but business owners should remain vigilant of the changing economic landscape and any global issues that could affect daily operations. Your own SME or startup may one day be affected by extreme weather or a devastating interruption in your supply chain. With that in mind, here are five things you can do to help your brick-and-mortar store overcome these uncertainties:
1) Invest in New Technological Solutions for Your Store
SMEs and startups need to establish a solid tech foundation to be able to withstand uncertainties in the marketplace. Now’s a good time for you to invest in tech solutions to improve operations and streamline processes in your physical store.
For instance, when it comes to payments, your customers may see your business as archaic for its reliance on cash transactions. Even in a developing country like the Philippines, the adoption rate for cashless payments is now at 92 percent, which means that your customers expect stores to accommodate their e-wallet payments and other cashless transactions with little trouble.
Upgrade your physical store’s POS (point of sale) with Maya Business’s Maya Terminal device and accompanying POS system. Acting as more than just a credit card terminal, this handy POS Philippines solution can accept digital wallet and QR code payments along with card payments. The Maya Terminal Lite’s compact and wireless design will allow you to use it to meet customers anywhere within your store when they’re ready to pay. Moreover, it can sync with your POS cash register systems, so you don’t have to worry about this POS terminal Philippines system making a duplicate entry upon payment approval.
Aside from a new payment system for your store, you can also upgrade your customer relationship management or CRM tools. These allow you to customize your customer engagement and track the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. As a result, you’ll likely be able to close more deals and promote more efficient operations inside your store, which will translate into stronger revenues and higher savings.
2) Keep a Close Eye on Your Cash Flow
Cash is the lifeblood of any business, and you must be able to manage your cash flow wisely if you want your business to get through unpredictable circumstances. Financial tools like the Maya Business Deposit account and Maya Business Manager can help you track and manage your store’s cash flow from anywhere, as long as you have internet access.
After you open a Maya Business Deposit account, you’ll be able to funnel revenues and disburse payments from just one business account. Meanwhile, with the Maya Business Manager dashboard, you can manage your transactions remotely—even at times when you have to be away from your store. That means that you can pay workers’ salaries and suppliers’ invoices on time as well as monitor customers’ payments from your different revenue streams.
Mastery over your cash flow will allow you to set aside savings for unexpected scenarios like your equipment breaking or your revenue declining from a sudden business interruption. When you see the whole picture, you’ll be able to make informed decisions regarding your business’s finances.
3) Diversify Your Products and Services
Diversification is a potent strategy for SMEs and startups. It can make a huge difference to your bottom line if you expand your product and service offerings to cater to different customer needs. For example, if you run a clothing store, consider adding accessories or footwear to your inventory. Do you have a bakeshop? Why not create a space for a coffee shop?
This strategy will do more than help you attract a broader customer base for your offerings. It will also ensure that your business remains relevant and adaptable in changing market conditions.
4) Establish a Strong Online Presence to Complement Your Business’s Physical Presence
Even if you predominantly do business from your physical store, it would be good for you to develop your online presence and even pave the way for omnichannel operations. If you still don’t have one, create a professional business website and social media profiles on platforms that your target customers frequent. Next, engage with your audience by creating valuable and shareable content.
On these platforms, post updates regarding your business’s products and services and share details about where customers can transact with you—both online and offline. Your online presence not only widens your reach but also allows you to connect with customers even when they can’t visit your physical store.
5) Consider an E-commerce and a Hybrid Retail Model
E-commerce has gained significant traction in the Philippines, especially during the pandemic. Take advantage of this receptive market, and consider getting into e-commerce on top of managing a brick-and-mortar store.
You may also want to explore a hybrid retail model, which combines online and offline shopping experiences. Through the hybrid model, customers will be able to place their orders online and pick them up at your physical store. While there, they’ll be enticed to browse your selections before finalizing their purchase details.
The omnichannel approach may be a particularly effective hedge against uncertainty because it caters to a diverse range of customers. You’ll be able to accommodate those who prefer the convenience of online shopping and those who enjoy the in-store experience at the same time. This, in turn, opens your revenue streams for both and ensures viable income for your store when one channel suddenly overtakes the other.
It’s no easy task to head a brick-and-mortar business in this unpredictable global economy. “Hope for the best, and prepare for the worst”—that old adage couldn’t ring truer. But all is not lost to a business owner who comes prepared. With strategies like the ones mentioned above, you’ll be able to lead your business through the roughest waters and come out stronger.