First a human disaster and second a global disaster, the coronavirus epidemic, or COVID-19, has become a pandemic that affects millions of people and businesses worldwide, big and small.
It has an overwhelming and unparalleled effect on the global economy, forcing online giants like Amazon and Google to adapt to its effects. The film industry has drastically slowed down as retailers across the world are forced to close their stores.
Although countries have shut down their borders and implemented isolation measures to contain the virus epidemic, hackers have taken advantage of this situation and intensified activities in the underground economy.
Out of the woodwork, hackers have come to offer discounts on their “services” or “goods,” which typically contain malware.
Coronavirus-related domains have also spiked since the outbreak and are more likely to be malicious than other domains by 50 per cent.
Preparing yourself and securing your online company is more important than ever, so that it can withstand the global COVID-19 crisis. Here are ways for you to do just that.
1. Manage your online presence
“Business as normal” in light of the pandemic may be something that businessmen won’t be saying or hearing for a while.
However, there are ways to keep your customers up-to-date with your own website, data structure and profiles of local business.
Keep your customers updated via FAQ pages that discuss common concerns such as your changed operating hours, changes in goods or services that you are selling and how your company tackles the COVID-19 crisis.
If your company or those of your customers are significantly impacted, you can also build COVID-19 dedicated sites.
Your structured data
Depending on the type of business you run, you should use structured data to highlight content and “tell” search engines what your content is saying.
If you have a retail business, for example, you can use the “item availability” structured data type to inform customers of your current product availability.
If you are an event organizer or your business had events coming up, there are structured data types to help you update your users on event status – whether events are pushing through, canceled or going virtual.
The pandemic has also motivated the creation of a specific type of structured data for special announcements, which you can also use on your website.
Your local business profiles
Most people go to directory listings or use online search engines to test temporary delays, updated store hours and quality of service in times of crisis or confusion.
Make sure your Google My Business profile is updated with any updates to keep your customers in the know.
2. Increase security measures on your Website.
If protecting your website from hackers was not previously a primary concern, it should now be at the top of your list.
As more people are forced to operate from home, the global pandemic has provided an incentive for cyberattacks.
Phishing and fraud websites are on the rise, taking advantage of the information needs of the people on COVID-19.
Coronavirus phishing emails are now being used to trick people to download malware, and thousands of domains affiliated with coronavirus have been registered.
A popular cybercrime scam now used is posing as a representative of the World Health Organization and trying to get email recipients to provide personal and financial information, or to open attachments that are normally exploits of the system.
The WHO has warned people about this and produced a page where suspected scams can be identified.
Be cautious about emails and attachments from unknown and unverified senders, and ask your customers to exercise the same treatment.
3. Change the activities in the online shop and customer support.
If you are in the business of e-commerce and selling physical goods, prepare to be overwhelmed by orders, particularly if you sell food or grocery items.
Many online retailers, including Amazon’s e-commerce giant, have restricted selection of items to what they find necessary, with most of them listing medical supplies and household needs.
When brick-and-mortar stores temporarily close, your online store is beefed up and your customer service team will be able to handle the demand, and possible problems are important.
Begin testing your inventory to decide which items you find necessary and non-essential.
Remind your customers even that certain items can currently be banned, depending on their area.
4. Listen to the ‘customer’s voice.’
It is common knowledge that listening to your customers will help you get a pulse of what goods or services they want, or what they want to be.
Customer Voice (VoC) data is a research technique that takes input from customers and uses it to help you discover how consumers view your company or brand.
With the ongoing pandemic, more and more shops are closing down but online sales are booming, and more and more brands are expected to migrate into the e-commerce world.
5. Prepare to work from home
COVID-19 is a game-changer for many businesses because it has created a remote working system for various companies.
Working from home is the latest trend, so it’s best to plan your company for this scenario-or to maximize the situation if you’ve already begun. Here are a few tips for doing so.
Prepare the office for homework.
Identify what you need to do the job, and find a designated home environment that’s cozy and free of distractions. Take the lighting, ergonomics and item positioning.
Have a way of monitoring time and distinguishing the technical from the personal; make sure you don’t spill into the other so you know when one starts and the other ends.
Working from home can put your data at risk if you’re not extra careful. Although it’s nice when you use your internet service at home, home internet plans aren’t as reliable as business networks are.
A strong thumb rule for working remotely is to hold working data only on your work computers and to ensure that your machine is configured to encrypt all stored data.
Stop using random flash drives or mobile devices, and set up a storage system that can only be used for work where possible
Allow flexible working hours. Homework can mean working at various hours of the day from home.
Prepare a schedule that takes into account time changes, working hours, and periods you may need to take a break to resolve personal issues.
6. Have an alternative plan
The COVID-19 pandemic has proven you can never be complacent about business. A poll of economists reveals that 34 per cent expect a recession in 2021 to strike the United States again.
You can carry on doing what you are doing, particularly if it works, but planning for a decline is crucial.
This is not fear to have a backup plan in today’s volatile world – this is common sense.
Nothing stays good for ever; make your company flexible so that you can adapt to change easily.
7. Look for support – and when you can, give also
This is not the time to keep to yourself; if there has ever been a time when helping one another out is important, the time is now.
If your business needs assistance, big business offers grants to benefit small companies, along with financial support from the U.S. government and the Small Business Administration.
You should also use this opportunity to give back to your clients and the community by offering any support you should, no matter how small it may be.
It’s important to keep in touch with your customers in times of crisis and continue to offer your product or service the best you can.
Incorporate the above tips into the new marketing plan to counter the COVID-19 global business crisis.
Adopting an agile business strategy has never been more relevant, so that you can shift direction when appropriate.