No one knows when the COVID-19 pandemic will end or what its true results will be. What is clear, however, is that the nature of commercial business has changed. According to Amperity’s COVID-19 Retail Monitor, as of March 26, overall retail demand was down 86 percent and online revenue was down 64 percent.

These figures are disheartening, but there is a bright spot: mobile orders were down only 18 percent. A recent McKinsey survey showed that online shopping in China increased 15 to 20 percent, and it increased 81 percent in Italy.

With challenges come opportunity. This may be the right time for you to launch an online business. To evaluate whether this is a good option for your business, evaluate the facts:

  • Create a business model. Does your business lend itself to selling something online? This is different than having an online presence during this crisis through which you provide information or entertainment, for example. That is a different marketing function, although it can be expanded to launch your new business on social media.
  • Be practical. To sell an actual product online you need to consider practical things like production and shipping capability, defining a workable timeframe and determining whether you have the staff to make it work.
  • Allocate resources. Can you allocate enough of your budget to sustain what is essentially a start-up business for at least six months? You will need at least three months to ramp up the business and another three (or more) to test whether the business has legs.
  • Evaluate technology. Assess and test your technology and software capabilities in such areas as remote team communications, file sharing and storage, customer payment options, cybersecurity and IT support.
  • Select staff. Once you have those details in place, you need to assign the right people to oversee implementation of each part of the project, including deciding which product or products to focus on and sourcing enough raw materials to produce more than you think you’ll need in case the product is in demand.
  • Build teams. Have teams in place to create e-commerce websites (including mobile, because that is one area that has seen a smaller decline) and a robust social media presence.
  • Develop plans. Design your marketing program well before the product launch so you can build customer interest.
  • Meet expectations. Plan your rollout in a way that will allow you to fulfill your brand promise from the very beginning.
  • Measure results. Determine your key performance indicators (KPIs) and measure them frequently. At the start of the project, KPIs should be measured daily so you can respond quickly to unanticipated developments.

Launching an online business during this critical time is challenging, but it may be the right thing to do to keep your business viable into the future. For more guidance on creating an online presence, contact us today.

As we have been doing with all coronavirus legislation and SBA guidance during these past few months, we will be sure to update you with any additional insight as soon as possible. Continue to check back here for the most up to date tax information and changes in response to coronavirus. If you have questions about this or related topics contact an MCB Advisor at 703-218-3600 or click here. 

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