1. Getting up and online ASAP
Covid-19 poses a once in a hundred year economic and social challenge to the ways in which we do business, if we can operate at all. Whether your doors are open or not, it is crucial to maintain a relationship with your customer as well as continuing to add value to their lives. Adapting and responding to the government's directions around safety will mean everything for a small business. Digital communication and sales tools are critical part of this response.
2. Get in front of your customers as soon as possible
The sooner you can get feedback the better you will be. This goes for marketing, messaging, features, functionality. Remember, if you are not embarrassed by the first thing you put out there, you have gone too late. This risk is that you miss the boat, you miss the customer. Customer feedback is critical as they are the ones using and buying your products (not you!). User experience and a refined user interface is king!
3. Try to DIY
The best way to learn is by doing and there are a lot of accessible free to use digital tools available online for graphic design, website building and marketing. We think everyone should give it a go at EPIC Westport, you will be amazed at what a bit of time and elbow grease can achieve. Check out the links below for our favourite DIY tools.
4. Know when to call in an expert
As much as we are all about learning the tools yourself, what you put out into the world is the professional face of your business. We operate in a global online market and as such what we put out will be compared to the best. To be competitive, it is important for a business to be well executed, well presented, fit for purpose and user friendly. That's what an expert can help with.
5. You can't outsource what you don't understand
We have learnt this the hard way as a customer and as developer. It is critical when asking for help that you understand what it is that you need, what your customer needs, and that you have a good understanding of what is achievable in the time/ funds allocated. A working understanding is better still for good communication.
6. Start small, keep it simple
A mobile text or telephone ordering system that works for you and your customer is going to beat an app that crashes. By starting small and keeping it simple you can address your customers need and gradually improve over time.
7. Kaizen: the philosophy of continuous improvement
Always be improving. Simple as that. Once you have something up and running, test it, iterate on it, complete the improvement. Cement those gains. Work on the next thing. Always focus on what is creating value for your customer.
8. Fail quickly
We like to move quickly and get our products in front of customers as soon as possible! No one wants to the be the team behind the Google Glass, investing how much (?!) time and money into a product that was clearly a flop. It is better to spend a couple of hours testing a product with your customers and changing tack than wasting days/ months/ years behind closed doors.
9. A product is only as good as how you use it
One up-to-date website or social media account beats a multitude of poorly maintained or out of date accounts. Getting a website set up is only half the challenge. A website on its own does not create traffic. What you do with the website, how you can operate it, change it, modify it, drive traffic to it, all these things are critical. A sponsored Facebook post or advertisement is only as good as the conversion funnel that can drive sales.
10. Good analytics: understanding the return on investment
A couple of hours to test a new tool out, or test a product on a customer that saves weeks down the line is clearly worth it. Investing in a professional ecommerce platform or a social media marketing drive that results new sales is worth it. But how do you know? A well executed marketing or digital strategy should result in a clear understanding the cost to acquire a customer, the lifetime value of a customer and the daily/ monthly/ annual spend per customer. Do you know these values for your business?
The DIY tools
These are free to try, and all cost less than $200 per year to put out into the world. They are largely template based, meaning you don’t have endless freedom. But you can find a template that works for you!
Canva For creating menus, Facebook / instagram posts etc. Canva is free to use and downloadable to your phone, tablet or desktop. It’s a design tool that lets you edit templates for any image you might need online. You can use their images and edit the text or upload your own.
Unsplash Free to download, high resolution images
Swiftly For creating a click and collect service. You will need a website (landing page) or facebook page to promote your Swiftly page as they are not searchable. The platform literally takes 10mins to set up. You can upload your own photos of your meals/ products/ services. The platform does not process payments. But does create order numbers and lets customers choose a delivery option. This site is only a few days old so it's growing and changing all the time.
Regulr Regulr app is a click and collect app that allows your customers to search for local cafe/restaurants and place an order from the convenience of their phone.
You can create simple online stores using these tools. They are all much the same in their functionality, although people often have a favourite. At EPIC we use Wix which is great for creating simple landing pages, all the way through to stores/process payment etc.
Facebook store A Facebook shop lets you show and sell products to people on Facebook, this option is very straightforward and if you already have a business Facebook page it is easy to set up with all of the instructions online.
Using an established trading platform:
Trademe does’t have the biggest following on the West Coast, but opens you up to a national market. Rather than spending a lot of time managing your own web store, Trademe processes sales and can help you order a courier. Websites require traffic, there are millions of people on Trademe. You will need to choose an established site that is right for you. Trademe may not suit all businesses, Felt is targeted at craft and Facebook market place and buy/sell pages are aimed mostly at second hand items but you can list new items. As community pages buy/sell pages on Facebook are a good way to get your products/items noticed locally.
Felt Talented people all over NZ (thousands of them!) make goods and gifts and list them for sale on Felt. Felt is New Zealand’s online market for locally made goods and gifts.
Glide Apps We have just discovered this awesome tool to create an app, yes an app! The content is based off a Google sheet. They are quick to make and publish.
The EPIC Westport Digital Hub:
Helps businesses and organisations understand what's available, access and use digital tools
Provides advice on web, app, AR, VR and other tech tools. We have a decade of development experience and a commercial background as the CerebralFix Group, How do we know what we are talking about? Check out the work we have done here: https://cerebralfix.com/products
Prepares working prototypes and test them/ complete market research
Completes scoping projects to identify what could work (we stop short of completing what might otherwise be a commercial project). At that point, any advice, scope or research (including prototypes) can be turned into commercial RFP/ tenders etc, you may like to approach the CerebralFix group (but definitely don't have to.