Local Retail in the Era of COVID-19
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics over 32 million people are employed in retail and hospitality, including stores, bars and restaurants, tourism and entertainment; the industries that are being hit the hardest during COVID-19. With no clear end in sight, brick-and-mortar stores that relied primarily on foot traffic and tourism need to transition to a new model and quickly.
Restaurants maneuvered into delivery and curbside pick-up quickly with help from already popular Doordash, GrubHub, and Postmates and urged their regulars to follow them into these new platforms, but brick-and-mortar retail stores without those repeat customers are challenged to reinvent themselves online. While many stores have an online presence, transitioning fully to managing online inventory and shipping logistics can be daunting under normal circumstances and even more so during a global pandemic.
The good news is, like for the restaurant industry, there are existing online partners that are primed to help the small business community during this era of rapid change. Online marketplaces will certainly not replace the value of tourism traffic, or that of restaurant-goers popping into shops while waiting for their table, but these platforms can help. Most business owners are aware of these major online marketplaces but choosing the best fit can be challenging. Here is a list of the larger national players with helpful pros and cons to guide a transition to online sales.
While that list from ShopKeep is a great resource if you’re considering a national vendor, if you are looking to stay local, Louisville’s Trumando offers a marketplace for menswear. Their staff highlights substance over convenience when helping you curate your collection and do a lot of the heavy lifting for you. Just like choosing the physical location of your store is a personal choice, choosing the right online partner is as well.
How and where dollars are being spent is changing daily, but luckily the value of having a consistent online presence is not going anywhere any time soon. Changes to a business operating model can be daunting, but now more than ever the internet has become the new “Main Street” for small businesses and it is time to dive into this new normal of online foot traffic.