Now Is the Time for Main Street Shops to Go Digital

from Wired

AS MANHATTAN BRACED for lockdown in early March, the main street of Fredonia, New York, was still buzzing with activity. The town had been chosen as the location for season five of Small Business Revolution, a TV series hosted by Amanda Brinkman in which the shops in a particular community get a makeover, and filming was underway. “We wondered if Covid would end up showing up in the narrative of season five,” Brinkman mused. Now, “the entire season is going to be about how we were able to help these businesses through this crisis.” As the chief brand officer of Deluxe, a small business financial services company, Brinkman has long been devoted to helping those companies serve their communities and adapt to ever-changing commercial and digital landscapes. The coronavirus pandemic has forced many to evolve overnight or risk going under, and she’s working hard to help.

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25 Responses to Now Is the Time for Main Street Shops to Go Digital

  1. Tim Foo Siam April 30, 2020 at 4:16 pm #

    This article was extremely relevant to the discussions that we were having in class, relating to antitrust law. We discussed the importance of small businesses going online in order to stay afloat, during times like these. The main question that we addressed was how to transition a storefront business to an online platform. The best solution that we came up with was to utilize Amazon Marketplace, an online platform that allows you to easily advertise and sell your products. Using Amazon Marketplace will allow an individual to reach a broader audience, via the Internet. Amazon Marketplace is a really useful platform for businesses during this quarantine.
    In the article by Wired, it talks about how a television show, “Small Business Revolution”, was previously helping renovate businesses in New York. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, these businesses obviously had to close. In order to continue with the show and to help the businesses, the show is helping the business owners transition their storefronts from physical to digital. The host behind the show, Amanda Brinkman is committed to helping businesses, in order to prevent them from going under. During this quarantine, businesses, especially smaller ones, are extremely prone to going under. When we eventually return to normal life, many small businesses (that are primarily in-person, like mom and pop restaurants) may no longer exist, which is sad. So it is good to hear that someone like Brinkman is going out of their way to help those who are most susceptible.
    Considering New York is pretty much the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in America, these businesses will more than likely remain as online businesses for slightly longer than the rest of the US. New York has more coronavirus cases and coronavirus-related deaths than many other countries, which is a crazy statistic. It would be much safer for the businesses to sell their products online through platforms like Amazon Marketplace, instead of working out of their storefronts (which have already been shutdown). These businesses could consider the possibility of using their own platform aside from the Amazon Marketplace, but it would require more resources, time, and would more than likely draw less attention to their business.

  2. Kyle Spivak April 30, 2020 at 4:33 pm #

    The greatest challenge, that the article mentions so well, is “pivoting the business model to focus onto an online presence”. For many businesses (retail specifically) this is relatively easier than businesses that rely predominantly on providing a service. The landscape of the online marketplace makes it easier in general to not only reach the small business’s “regular market” but they can also reach out to other individuals that would not ordinarily buy from them – be it clothes or a small mom and pop eatery that is now partnered with the likes of DoorDash or UberEats.

    But again, it is hard to provide a service remotely when it needs to be done face to face. Take for instance physical therapy. Yes the appointment can be done through something such as Tele-Health, but there is a difficulty that goes along with it. For those that need physical therapy, the aspect of actually being in the PT office and doing the physical work provides a greater benefit than that for those who may not commit 100% to the new “normal” of doing these online appointments. That, and another large part to physical therapy is which the therapist works on the patient after they do their routine. With the online appointments, this pivotal part into the healing process cannot be done.

    Another difficulty, I feel that the article does not necessarily mention is that for those going to the online marketplace may very well use the larger corporations to get what they need. Brand loyalty does not really exist anymore, people will go for what is easier and faster.

  3. Colleen O'Keefe April 30, 2020 at 9:17 pm #

    In working at a small business over the past four years when I am at home, I began to have concerns over what was going to happen. Big companies have a plethora of resources and ways to sell their products online or ship them, but smaller businesses tend to stay local and have much more limited resources. This article suggested that these shops take their business online and reach out to a larger customer base in an effort to stay afloat, but it still makes me wonder what can businesses that are service based do at this time? The place that I have worked at is a local dog grooming business that relies solely off of customers coming into the stores and getting their dogs groomed or washing them themselves (one of our additional services). However, with the social distancing measures in place this is not a possibility, and it got me wondering what could be done in order to help the store. Though the article also mentioned having a virtual class, again this does not apply to many businesses like a dog groomer. When it comes to the businesses that are able to take an online approach like selling their products to customers online, another concern is whether or not they will even be able to compete with the top competitor in the industry, Amazon. The convenience of Amazon makes it hard to choose another company, even when you know that it will benefit your local community more, because it offers great deals and very fast shipping. I think in order for the companies with the option of online retail to make it work, it is going to take a lot of encouragement to get people to order from local shop rather than just go with the convenience and familiarity of Amazon.

  4. Morgan Mooney May 1, 2020 at 10:48 am #

    The recent coronavirus outbreak has been a nightmare for small businesses around the world. With most countries shutting down everything, small businesses are finding it harder and harder to succeed with everyone staying home and avoiding unnecessary shopping trips. Small businesses have been hit very hard with some experts predicting that in America there could be around 15,000 permanent retail store closures in 2020. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/16/retail-store-closures-in-the-us-could-explode-because-of-coronavirus.html . The Economic Policy Institute is predicting that the COVID-19 outbreak could wipe out three million jobs from the U.S. economy before this summer. https://www.epi.org/blog/coronavirus-shock-will-likely-claim-3-million-jobs-by-summer/ . This is a hard hit for small businesses to take because they have such small capitals to have a step back like this to occur. According to a recent Goldman Sachs survey of 1,500 small business owners, more than 50% of them said they did not think that they could continue operating their businesses for more than three months if these current conditions continue. Many companies are going to be forced to adapt if they want to survive.
    That is what the main argument of this article was about and how small businesses are going to have to make themselves some sort of online presence. Whether it is just simple online shopping or apps that allow for quicker ordering or faster pick up. With everyone social distancing themselves and not going out, it is harder for a small business to keep its name out there for people to find. Everyone is looking for something to do because no one wants to be home so of course, people are going to be surfing the web and that is why companies need to have an online presence. Companies need to stay viable for their clientele. According to the article, “The key to remaining viable, Brinkman said, is to be searchable and active online. People everywhere want to be supporting small businesses, but they need to be able to find them.” The whole company has taken a technological shift in a way in which even the older generations are being forced to learn how to use it even if they do not want to. It is becoming necessary for most jobs nowadays. here

  5. Philip John Mabalatan May 1, 2020 at 1:32 pm #

    Time and time again, especially in recent history, success has been found in technology. Whether it be a streamer streaming a video game fully online or a physical company with online infrastructure, online is the future of the industry. For younger generations in particular, your whole life is hinged on technology. Older generations would argue that we would be hopeless without it, but like many other things the internet is a tool, a VERY powerful tool at that. It has the power to process mass information, connect people across vast distances, and use algorithms to tailor products to you. All of which are important attributes for a company. Especially during a time where foot traffic or the viability of being outside is diminished, your online presence is imperative, as the article states. Since the shift to online platforms has been extensive, to ensure that a store doesn’t go out of business, you must make sure that people can find you in a web search. With different algorithms targeting people with relevant searches, if a business that appear in one of those searches it will be very beneficial for them. The downfall of a physical business is that it’s advertisement is limited to people that pass by that shop. However, with an online infrastructure, it has the ability to extend to much farther reaches. This truly emphasizes the necessity to have an online model in this age. This also makes room for more expansive PR. As the article states, “businesses can do well by doing good”, that brings in a good reputation for the business itself.
    Going along with this, the accessibility is much stronger for all the customers and any constituents. By simply having a phone number or email listed under your online business, your customers can contact you from anywhere and anytime if you deem it so, allowing you to have a much deeper connection with your clientele. Overall, the usage of an online platform allows you to build your business on a grander scale simply due to the amount of people you will be able to reach, having a significant leg up on business not using one.
    https://quartsoft.com/blog/201510/importance-online-presence-business

  6. joseph penagos May 1, 2020 at 3:36 pm #

    Despite all the troubles these events have caused, it will offer a huge opportunity for the smaller businesses to blow up. Its funny, I’m starting to see more website adds on Hulu and on tv when I’m with my little brother. I’m sure they’ll be bringing in bucket loads of money during and after this pandemic. I worry about the smaller business in the future.
    As Tim has mentioned as the first comment, we spoke about this with amazon in the example. The model had amazon as our distributor as we stood back after we got a manufacturer outside of the country. Here is where I think smaller businesses will struggle, their customers over amazon will never know its, let’s say mom and pop inc. Those customers think it’s just from amazon, even there it’ll be hard to sell their product because of their positioning on the search. For example, do you go to the 2nd page of a google search or just try other keywords? Plus let’s say the stuffed animals that mom and pop inc. are selling faster than hotcakes, Amazon will come along, make their own version of it, and put it on the first page. When it comes to these little things I think it would be more beneficial to invest in a website and advertisement in the long run. That way when this settles, hopefully soon, mom and pop inc don’t have to worry about amazon. If they really don’t want to create their own website then eBay is also an option. Hopefully when we can come out of this mom and pop inc will do their best to stay viable by keeping up with the tech. truth is many won’t open their doors again. It’s sad but on the bright side that leaves space for the opportunity for new businesses to come in, ones that will be more rooted in tech moving the industrial market into a tech space. Maybe well even start to see the rise of the new jobs from these small start-ups after the pandemic is over. Malls will become a thing of the past, hello to online shopping be it food, clothes, or anything else under the sun.

  7. Roger McCurdy III May 1, 2020 at 4:40 pm #

    My first thought when I saw this article was the examples of main street shops that we have been using for antitrust law. Particularly, Elijah’s toy shop where I get my Buzz Lightyear dolls. This example plays into the article as well, because the point of the exercise was to show the need to go online for sales. This article brings up the necessity to not only bring their storefronts online but onto their own website. Frankly, I do think that an online storefront is needed for nearly all businesses at this point, but many cannot afford to start up their own website and advertise it. If they do have that kind of money, then this route make more sense.

    Another criticism I have with straying away from Amazon is that most people would look on Amazon for what they are looking for first. So, if you are selling a lamp or chair, Amazon will be the first place your potential consumers are looking. Amazon will likely provide an option that will undercut whatever price that the you can afford to sell for. This would decrease revenue, unless your lamps or chairs have a unique and distinguishable quality that surpasses anyone else’s.

    Lastly, I think that main street shops still have a future in the economy, along with malls. From personal experience, I go to the mall to browse, I rarely go in looking to buy something in particular, and of course I often walk out with something. A mall or main street has long been trending towards being an experience rather than a shopping trip. Weekends are the prime time for this behavior, so limited hours during the week and longer weekend hours for their physical storefronts makes sense to me, while having an online presence will keep their sales up so they can continue to be profitable.

  8. Robert Farawell May 1, 2020 at 5:16 pm #

    The COVID-19 pandemic has shown just how fragile businesses are, especially businesses that rely on brick and mortar to operate. This pandemic will eventually end, but the fragility of brick and mortar businesses will only increase as time goes on. The main issue for brick and mortar businesses is that it is more convenient for customers to order their products online while at their homes, rather than having to travel to a store to purchase the goods they want. If a potential customer travels to a store and doesn’t find the products they wanted, then they would have to continue traveling to other locations to find what they wanted, this process wastes time that could have be used for some other use. However, if the same customer was searching for a product online, then they would be able to quick switch between various websites in search of what they were looking for, and all of this can be done from the comfort of one’s home. It is easy to see which of these two processes are more likely to be used by customers. Thus, it should be the goal of many small businesses to develop a presence on the internet.

    The presence that a business should have on the internet is not as simple as it used to be, one can’t just make a business website and leave it at that. These days a business needs to be able to generate tariff to its website, so that it can become one of the first websites that shows up on any search result for the product or service the company provides. The best way to be in the top results of searches, is to have an active presence on social media websites, such as Facebook. If one can get a very engaged customer base on social media, this will cause said customers to visit the company website, thus increasing the websites searchable, which in turn will cause more traffic to the website, as it rises to the top of the search results. This will cause a businesses customer base to expand far beyond the scope of the local reach a business would if it were only relegated to brick and mortar operations.

    It is clear from the previously mentioned information that converting a business into a digitally based business has many advantages for both customers and companies. These advantages and the disadvantages involved with either staying strictly brick and mortar or having a weak presence in the digital space, will only grow as tie moves forward. The COVID pandemic has only sped up the transfer to the new business model, thus it is important for any company that wants to not only overcome the present financial difficulties, but also future, to make the switch to a digitally focused business model.

  9. Paavo Riihijarvi May 1, 2020 at 5:35 pm #

    This article is extremely important right now, and I find it very interesting as my parents own a business of their own. The pandemic has shown how fragile small businesses are, and in Finland, the sports teams are in bad shape as well. Many teams that are not in the top division are losing heaps of money and revenue, and these teams do not have the deep pockets to come out from this crisis. The team in my town has done remarkably well in this situation. They have gone more online, advertised their merch, offered to go grocery shopping, and even do farm work. This is the type of flexibility small businesses need to have in order to survive this.
    The importance of businesses converting to online is obvious, but I think it will drive the small businesses down eventually. If you want to order something online, you would most likely order it from a large company that is able to drive down their prices, rather than pay too much money just because the business is “local” or important to you. On the internet, many small businesses would lose their identity, which has been one way they have been able to fight against larger companies.
    Malls have been example of how the in-person stores are dying out. While there is some magic about going into the store of H&M and browsing there, it is just so much easier to sit home and look around various different online stores for the exact thing you want and need.

  10. Kevin Orcutt May 1, 2020 at 6:51 pm #

    This article gives very needed motivation to the smaller business that are be affected right now by the corona virus. Many smaller shops with an older generation of people that run them may be struggling to know what to do because they never thought of taking their local business online. When the article talks about this being the time to do it, it is completely right. Many of these older shops may have been getting away without digitizing their business and expanding out past their local community because people had the ability to get out and go to them, now they do not. If they do not try to make an online shop, a lot of places will soon lose everything unless they have an extreme amount of cash on hand to last until this overhyped pandemic is over. With these companies now online, they are now going to have an increased amount of people that are able to go to the website and click it. This may result in them getting even more business than they are used to. The main problem with this now being not only do these businesses need to understand how to set up an online shop, but now they need to have the power to ship it to them. Shipping may sound like the least of there worries, but without proper space and enough help, this can prove to me difficult if you do not have a framework in place to deal with this. One major concern I have about more businesses going online is that it is going to displace a lot of workers that will have to find new jobs. If these businesses find out that they do not even need a store front anymore, the people that work in them will be out of a job sooner than later. Although another job will be created in another field to assist that online business, the one that is currently occupied will be gone. This same fear goes for the people getting laid off from these businesses and them realizing that they can make do without them. If they see that it can run smoothly, they will be out of a job just because of unplanned and unfortunate “experiment” of what would happen if we cannot meet in person.

  11. CJ Happ May 1, 2020 at 8:05 pm #

    Covid-19 has ravaged the world’s economy and exposed the world to the difficulties that come about when someone is not being educated in the ways of the internet can impact you and your family. The brick and mortar stores are dying and have been becoming more and more obsolete even before the coronavirus. Now with the coronavirus taking its toll on the world, we have distortions in supply chains and the closure of all “non-essential” businesses. People are out of work and without their employment or without their business working at full capacity we see the unemployment rate skyrocketing. For years people have run their business and had no reason to close their doors besides socioeconomic reasons. Now, we have an external factor which is that has an indefinite termination date of the quarantine that is restricting the economy of the United States to work properly. Many businesses are thinking of creating an online presence as it is the only way t source revenue without the availability of a physical store for people to shop in. Small businesses are changing to support the feature of offering online classes and personalized deliveries. It is safe to say that this transition to an online portion of selection should have been implemented long ago for many of these small businesses.

  12. Vasudave Taneja May 1, 2020 at 8:21 pm #

    Shifting towards the internet and developing an online presence has been a suggestion for small business for a long time, however, now it is essential in order to avoid the terrible possibility of going under severely. If one looks at their daily routine and buying habits, especially during these troubling times under lockdown, most of their activities take place on the internet. An average, quarantined person’s schedule starts with waking up in the morning and joining calls/meetings as a placeholder for in person work/school and has aspects of technology, whether it be on Netflix, binging shows or on Amazon Fresh trying to get groceries delivered, tied into it. That being said, now is a better time than ever for local, small business to utilize their presence in their respective communities and shift it online, so that people who are using the internet much more these days can access their favorite local stores without having to leave the house.
    An example of this took place recently in my community. Most people enjoy family owned pizzerias and think that they have better tasting pizza than chain restaurants such as Dominos or Papa Johns. A long-lasting favorite in our neighborhood was obviously, forced to shut down customer seating when lockdown started. Furthermore, they were doing delivery but were only taking orders over the phone and this was something that most people in the neighborhood didn’t know about. About a week or so into lockdown, word got around on our town’s Facebook page that the pizzeria had created a website and was now taking orders and doing delivery via their site and had also placed themselves on food delivery applications such as DoorDash. Now, I see cars with the shop’s branding on them, driving around the community all throughout the day and my neighbors and I have definitely utilized this feature as well.
    In times like this, we all want to help each other and it is clear that managing and running a small business is not easy when there aren’t any customers, but rent is still due. Operating with a more 21st century approach was something they were going to have to do regardless and this has been the push to shift now, as opposed to later. Making their goods or services more available to their loyal customer base allows for significantly increased convenience and in reality, isn’t that what this Internet Age is all about anyway?

  13. Isaiah Belvin May 1, 2020 at 8:57 pm #

    Sometimes I just think about what we could have been doing at this time instead of being in quarantine. For instance, today I could have been watching Black Widow in the movie theatre, and maybe even going to see it a second time tomorrow. I feel like Covid is just ruining a lot of things for a lot of people. I like how this article mentions small businesses as well. They got some money from the Stimulus Package but I still feel like they are overlooked or just not heard enough. The author of the posted stated, “she explained the full extent of challenges that small businesses across the country are facing right now, and the steps some are taking to stay afloat not just this spring but hopefully long after. The key to remaining viable, Brinkman said, is to be searchable and active online.”
    Something the author of the post also stated was, “People everywhere want to be supporting small businesses, but they need to be able to find them.” Now, this is something I can seriously relate to. As a black person in America, our culture makes it a staple to support black businesses. Of course, that does not mean that we will never go to non-black person business, it just means we understand the adversities and the challenges that come with being black and especially being a black business owner so it’s a very liberating experience when you know you are supporting a black owner and their business. But during quarantine, it is kind of hard to do this, and it hurts to know that the business I want to succeed is slowly going out of business.
    The end of the post does indeed provide us with some hope for the small businesses when stated that, ”“Many businesses that previously thought of themselves as just local businesses are now able to be global businesses—if they have the right online presence,” she said. “We’re talking to a lot of these organizations that say, ‘Why didn’t we do this before?'” But a downside to this is the funds needed to make a business a “global business.” Also, what if some businesses cannot become a global business. For instance, something like a bakery. Some Customers want their baked goods to be fresh, and with deliveries happening fresh desserts aren’t always an option.

  14. Connor Strack May 1, 2020 at 9:09 pm #

    Reading this article immediately makes me think of our in class discussions and shows the relevance that they have in today’s economy. We discussed the advantages to bringing a hypothetical local toy shop online and the steps it would need to take in order to survive in an environment with little physical contact. If done correctly, integrating an online platform to a physical store not only protects you from situations like the one we are in right now, but expands your clientele to anyone with internet access, rather than just those that can make it to your store. This has the potential of bringing exponential growth to your business, and it would be an absolute shame (and in most cases detrimental) for any organizations to not take advantage of the opportunities brought by ecommerce. Increased usage of technology allows for more efficient processes and allows people to help each other, so we see a lot of benefit in the majority of small businesses pivoting to the platform. I also think that the mention of Amazon is extremely important here. A larger online presence from smaller businesses will jump start the process into revising the regulations surrounding online business, and will be a driving factor in creating a fairer system. Many smaller businesses will see that as they move online, the room for competition is severely curtailed by toxic business practices from some of the largest players in the space. Amazon has found out how to monopolize ecommerce by reaching into several different spaces and pointing everyone back to Amazon as the exclusive shopping space online. Hopefully, the discontent of businesses who have invested heavily into moving online is going to jumpstart the process of updating our antitrust framework to account for online activity. Unfortunately, the dominance of Amazon means that the profit margins of these institutions will be far less than they could be, given that the system is essentially rigged against them as it stands. It may slightly increase their local activity, though, as people familiar with the physical business will now have more convenient options for shopping. This could be especially beneficial to the organizations that are based in densely populated areas. I hope that this new change will give us the much needed push to regulate the online environment.

  15. John McKenna May 1, 2020 at 10:45 pm #

    This article is another example of how important adaptation to the digital space is during this coronavirus pandemic. Many companies that have never dealt with the digital realm are seeing themselves trying it out for the first time now, especially smaller business that have been getting hit the hardest during this quarantine. Many small businesses cannot afford being closed for so long, and so the switch to the online sector is necessary in most cases to keep a company afloat. Many challenges present themselves to businesses at a time like this, and this article prevents one of the people helping these businesses transition as efficiently as possible, TV show host Amanda Brinkman. She is aiding many small shops in Fredonia, New York in making themselves known online and reaching their customers, along with more incoming globally. The entire season of her show Small Business Revolution was able to deal with coronavirus related issues, which just goes to show how many businesses are having issues with quarantine and the transition. Brinkman claims the key to staying afloat during a time like this is creating a reachable online presence, one that’s streamlined and works efficiently and is updated to current standards. It seems to be a general consensus from many that this is the most important driving change hitting many industries now more than ever, as the shift to the digital realm opens up a whole new realm of possibilities. And with many businesses prevented from operating like normal, there is truly no other option when it comes to staying afloat in a time like this. Not only is it allowing companies to work like normal, it is also opening these companies up to a much bigger and diverse market, and with many more smaller businesses making the shift, it will be interesting to see how the digital realm adapts to the huge influx of online traffic.

  16. Justin Mathews May 1, 2020 at 11:48 pm #

    I actually think some of the changes that this pandemic is bringing to us may be for the good. The fact that many companies and businesses will be forced to modernize and utilize many tools that they previously haven’t only works to be a benefit to society.

    For example, I think modernizing businesses is essential. For businesses to not have an option to order through a website is already somewhat of an issue in my eyes. Maybe they’re going for some certain type of environment, but I think it would be good for them to do this, as it might increase sales due to the pure convenience of it. Not having a website in general is another issue in my eyes. I’m sure many people would like to at least view a menu online.

    Again, I’m not trying to sell this as some weird “benefits of coronavirus” piece. I just would like to assume that the changes that this pandemic causes might be good in the long run. I mean, as an example, we’ve already seen / are seeing this in effect with schools. Schools who don’t adapt will, in my opinion, be left behind. Same goes here. Restaurants that adapt to this situation will come out on top, while those who don’t will fall. Actually, this probably just applies to any company or person during this time. Those who change and make the correct adjustments will succeed.

  17. Christopher McGowan May 2, 2020 at 12:29 am #

    I feel if your small business has not gone digital in the current year, you are probably not going to do very well in the future as the world now revolves around technology, and In the midst of Covid-19 there couldn’t be a better time for a small business to go digital. In this article from Wired it explains exactly what I just said, “Why businesses need to go digital”, during this pandemic most small businesses had to close there doors or majorly downsize in order to stop the spread of the Coronavirus, this really has hurt a lot of small businesses that probably dont have to much of an online presents, Small businesses today need to realize they are able to be more then just a local business, companies need to be searchable and be active online. This is very important as someone like myself who uses the internet for almost everything, most of the businesses I use I find online. I feel most kids my age or younger do the same thing that why it can be crucial to have that online activity, also like I mentioned before since most small businesses have been forced to close the doors the only way they can still sell there product or service is by using digital resources like the internet. I feel the Covid-19 pandemic gave small businesses that may have been reluctant to go digital a push into realizing they need to use technology to there benefit. I feel within the next 20 years all businesses will have gone digital in order to keep up with competition which can play a major role a businesses decisions. Amanda Birkman who hosts the TV show “small businesses revolution” gave the tips for small businesses in this article, she sees it as successfully pivoted online can offer services that customers want which makes perfect sense as consumers have been forced to use the internet during this pandemic.

  18. Max Nitzberg May 22, 2020 at 6:02 am #

    The Covid-19 pandemic has forced small businesses to adapt to digital and has really shown how technology is able to keep them afloat. Businesses are now able to establish an online presence which allows them to make deliveries and advertise to a much larger audience. During this lockdown, it would be near impossible for a small business to get enough customers without going digital. The article also mentions offering services such as “personalized deliveries and virtual classes.” During the pandemic, I have relied on stores such as Shoprite and Walmart for deliveries as shopping in person as I live in a household with persons that are at higher risk for the virus. I have also been able to continue my classes virtually which is great, considering a decade ago with probably would not have been a possibility.
    However, it’s hard to not mention the many small businesses that would struggle to continue operations even with a digital presence. Not all businesses are able to allocate enough resources to make deliveries or be able to perform their services virtually. For example, many of the family-owned restaurants nearby weren’t able to swap over to deliveries due to lack of staffing. Barbershops in specific have no way to conduct business during the lockdown without endangering themselves and customers. The government has signed in the CARES Act which contains many clauses that will help bring relief to small businesses. This is the only way small businesses that can not digitalize will be able to endure the pandemic. I believe it is important that we as consumers support small businesses around us to help them endure these tough times.

  19. Bojun Zhang May 22, 2020 at 6:42 am #

    It is an interesting perspective that besides the negative impact the spreading virus has caused to many businesses and corporations, that there is still a positive side to it that appear to be largely ignored by many. This positive side is as insinuated in this article, that shops have now embraced going online and with that, they now have a much wider market than previously. This is because of the fact that when the shop is online, it has the potential of reaching to many potential buyers from different parts of the world, unlike when it is operating a physical location. The physical location has only access to a small market located within the area the shop is operating from. In addition, these businesses are able to cut cost that comes with operating physical shops such as reduced rent, reducing workforce and hence lessor amount is paid to labor and so on.

    However, I feel that this transition to online business may have far much worse negative effects than the positive effects that the businesses are enjoying. This is because such a transition is a disruption that is affecting many other sectors of the economy negatively such that in the long run, even the wider market the shops can now access online may cease to exist. For example, when shops operate from online, it means that real estate companies that manage the rental spaces will have reduced income and will have to cut down on workforce hence rendering more people jobless. Also, when shops operating online will require few workers and thus yet another cause of job losses. Eventually, so many people will have lost jobs and have no income and thus will not be able to buy the commodities these businesses will be selling online. Therefore, while there are positive effects to the business operating online, a widespread shift to online operations for most businesses may have more negative effects than positive to the general economy.

  20. Christina F. May 22, 2020 at 10:00 pm #

    It is wonderful that the shops in Fredonia, NYC have Amanda Brinkman to help them pivot and adapt to the ‘New Normal’ but not all small business owners have a consultant to help them shift their business model. This article provides great jumping off points and advice to those business owners looking to adapt. Although, as a marketer, I know that nativating the vast options available in the digital world can be almost overwhelming and for small businesses entering this realm for the first time in a time crisis, it is likely extraordinarily stressful.

    As mentioned in the article, many people want to support local business during this time and as our community is looking for ways to give back, I think lending free consulting to local business is a great way for marketers & digital consultants to give back to the community. This has personally inspired me as I have been looking for ways to give back and I think this is how I could help. As I unfortunately don’t have the sewing skills of my friends who are creating & donating masks. If marketers & digital consultants donated some of their time to assist businesses in their area, it could make a large impact on how many businesses get through this difficult time.

    It would be wonderful if we can take it one step further and create ‘digital malls’ for local businesses to provide a central hub of traffic. For example, if large companies like Simon Property Group, which owns many malls across the states, repurposed their website to also serve as an e-commerce platform, it could benefit many of the small businesses that reside within their walls. By doing this, Simon Property Group would simply be staying on par with the many Big Tech and Fin Tech companies that are adjusting their services to help SMBs move their businesses online – as mentioned in this article: https://www.pymnts.com/smbs/2020/big-tech-fintech-are-trying-to-save-main-street-smbs/

  21. Stephanie A May 29, 2020 at 3:00 pm #

    Social media is the main concern in most of our lives. It is the first thing we check when we wake up, and the last thing we see before we go to bed. Ever since this pandemic started, businesses who are available online, whether it be to order food for delivery or pickup, or retail stores that you are able to shop online and get delivered, have been thriving. Many people especially now because they are stuck at home, are on their phone or another smart device, and they are shopping.

    Local businesses stay in business because of all the loyal customers that they have obtained over the many years, but not being able to go into non-essential stores has created a difficult time for the owners. If these small local businesses could evolve to social media and online orders and make it public that they are starting, they will get more business. One company that has thrived dramatically from this pandemic is Amazon. Amazon has free two day shipping for Amazon Prime members, but even without the membership of Amazon Prime, their packages come relatively quickly. Amazon also has almost everything you could need, from clothes, to appliances, to cleaning supplies, etc. Many people know about Amazon and it is very easily found. Small businesses should make themselves searchable and active online so the many people that want to support small businesses can do so. Although it could be a struggle for some small businesses to start online, it would help them in the long run. They can start by going on apps such as GrubHub, or DoorDash if they are a food business so customers can order on there and get delivered to their homes.

  22. Matt G May 29, 2020 at 10:11 pm #

    With a lot of retail stores and restaurants no longer being able to serve their customers in person, there has been a push for these businesses to transition selling online to continue their operations. This is a change that is going to be sudden for a lot of businesses and will cause some issues in the beginning, but I think that overall will be good for these businesses in the future. With the whole world already starting to transition to the preference of purchasing online before the pandemic even started, with former big businesses such as Toys R’ Us having to shut down their stores because they couldn’t keep up with the competition of online stores such as Amazon. A lot of other small businesses have also been affected by this transition before the pandemic even started, and although it will be hard for them initially, this situation can eventually set them up for future success because of this necessary adjustment. During this crisis, a lot of people are willing to support their local businesses now that they are seeing that if they don’t these businesses will close, so this gives them a great opportunity to reach out to their local customers and get them involved in their online business while normally that acquiring of online customers would have been a lot more difficult.

    Small businesses can provide something unique to their customers which is why people would go to them over a larger businesses chain. These unique traits from these businesses as well as a market of people looking for ways to support their local community in these hard times is the perfect opportunity for them to reach existing and future customers to continue their business. Not only does this help them during this tough time when they would otherwise be forced to do nothing and probably end up closing their store, but it also sets them up for their future where they have an established online following that they can continue to reach to, or for things like restaurants they can expand their presence and get more people to come into their restaurants in the future once the quarantine is ended. Businesses that want to be able to successfully operate in the future are going to need an online presence to attract customers, and building that presence in a time of need where people are most willing to listen to their messages is a great opportunity for businesses that are currently struggling. Obviously the pandemic is still going to be hurtful to a lot of small businesses but it is forcing businesses to adapt to a new way of marketing and presenting their businesses which can help them out if they are willing to do the work to make these changes. Social media is also become a huge part of our lives long before the pandemic has occurred but with so many people now doing everything online, promoting yourself through social media is more noticeable and recognized by other online. Overall, the situation with the pandemic is causing a lot of businesses to change how they operate their businesses, but some of these changes that are needed to be implemented can be very beneficial to these companies in the future.

  23. S Warner June 2, 2020 at 2:16 pm #

    COVID-19 has brought upon a lot of struggles for small business owners where some are facing going under. Amanda Brinkman has been able to help some of these owners in Fredonia, New York prepare for the changes that the world has to face. I think that she is doing a great job by helping these businesses as many do not know what to do especially in such a short time period. Even though she cannot help every small business in the world, I think that she offers a lot of good advice in order to help everyone. It was mentioned that these businesses should have an online platform and be able to be easily found. During these hard times it is very valuable for the communities to support and order from the small businesses rather than the bigger corporations, like Amazon. I think that it is very important to support these smaller businesses as it brings the money into your community and not into a billionaire’s lap. Many small businesses did not even have websites or online ordering before the pandemic, so in a way I think that it was a benefit or eyeopener for them. These smaller businesses are able to gain more views and potential customers which boosts their business overall. These businesses are also able to give back to their community with the funding that they receive from our purchases which is an amazing thing. A simple meal that you ordered can help raise money to feed other people or even make supplies that are necessary at this time. Many large corporations are doing a lot less for the world than the smaller businesses during the coronavirus pandemic. I think that this is a major eyeopener for customers of these larger businesses to see that they are not sending back any help into the communities of their customers. These larger businesses should be able to donate money, supplies or meals with barely even touching their profits, but yet they are not doing as much as smaller businesses that are close to going under. Overall, I think that the small businesses are doing great for their communities and that this new online platform will help their sales skyrocket making them more successful.

  24. Christy Delleh June 12, 2020 at 6:02 pm #

    Things are changing gradually around and it is time to catch up for once. The yesterday we once knew is not more and for this reason people have to wake up. The article “Now Is the Time for Main Street Shops to Go Digital” serves as wakeup call because reality is about to hit the world. Long ago, people did use to shop from catalogs, walk in stores, order things via phones and fax. They had no idea as to whether e-commerce was coming to change the way people shop. It is true that people like to see what they buy but looking at technology nowadays, everything can be ordered online. Technology has shifted to secured online transactions and people feel safe putting their bank information online. The culture of today’s world is convenience. The time is now for main street shop to go digital. Business owners should expand their operations to incorporate online transaction. The few companies that are doing online sales are very successful. There is a high competitive advantage if a store is digital. Looking at COVID-19, lots of businesses were hit with loss of revenue because of the traditional street shop that they had. The businesses that online capabilities were very successful. Expanding to online platform gives lots of benefits.

  25. Matthew Simpson June 12, 2020 at 9:44 pm #

    As we prepared for the lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic people are realizing how unprepared we were for an event to this magnitude of destruction. During the lockdown in Manhattan in early March, the main street of Fredonia was still very active. This location was chosen by the TV show series Small Business Revolution in which shops will get a makeover and filming would be going on on that. This TV show series thought it would be showing up in season five of the series. This series is going to have to help show how the business will need help to make it through this crisis. They wanted to be devoted to helping companies that need to switch their company structure entirely to help prevent the downfall of the company. In a recent interview, Brickman was able to explain the challenge facing small businesses in the country during this pandemic. They plane hopes they will stay running well past the spring and hopefully much after. The biggest importance is the use of the internet and to know how to become successful for an online presence. The more searchable and active they are online the more businesses they will receive. The more feature they put on the online shopping feature the more customizable each customer experience will be coming in and out. During a time like this pandemic, a lot of the way we become comfortable with will be changing greatly. The new ways could be very successful during this time.

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