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The UPS Store Small Business blog
  • 29 November 2021
  • Alex Penfield

A Small Business Guide to Adapting and Moving Forward Amid COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything about the way we live. For small businesses, that has meant unprecedented unrest — shuttering storefronts, halting supply chains, and seeing fewer customers. And after nearly two years, it’s fair to say “business as usual” has officially been turned on its head and replaced with a “new normal” to which we have all had to adapt. But it’s not all doom and gloom: With the rollout of vaccines, many companies are getting back on their feet and beginning to navigate what it looks like to manage a small business in this new environment.

woman videoconferencing

As we begin to adjust to the new ways of working, it’s smart for small businesses to take a step back and reassess their needs — whether that be reopening safely, restoring stability and supply, or simply bringing customers back into the fold. If you are looking for help with hopping back in the business ring, then check out our quick guide for ways to keep moving forward for the long-term success of your small business.

Stay Safe

The first step for any small business owner navigating the current environment is to ensure the safety of themselves, their business, and their employees. How you accomplish this will vary depending on your industry, size, and local guidelines, but it may include offering a mix of remote and on-site work, revising your business hours, and working with employees to determine their unique comfort level and needs.

Adapt to New Norms

Once you’ve determined how to safely and comfortably operate again, you’ll want to take a holistic look at your marketing strategy. COVID-19 has changed the shopper landscape, most notably in the way of e-commerce. According to CNBC, 2020 e-commerce sales grew more than 30% from 2019. If e-commerce was not a part of your marketing strategy pre-pandemic, it’s worth looking into if it makes sense for your industry and business going forward. Check out this article for a comprehensive list of e-commerce options to fit every kind of small business build and budget. If your customer base leans more millennial, consider breaking into the social commerce world as well — influencer marketing and shopping through Instagram has seen a major boom as customers have been forced to shop from their couch. Additional pandemic measures turned standard business practices to consider include curbside pickup, contactless payment, and by-appointment shopping.

Get Creative

If COVID-19 has changed the way your business operates, it may be helpful to reimagine how your business can serve a need. For example, during the early days of the pandemic, when dining out wasn’t an option, some restaurants put a creative twist on their services to quickly pivot and keep cash flowing during unprecedented times. Instead of serving meals in a traditional setting, these restaurants became mini grocery stores, offering customers high-quality ingredients from suppliers so they could recreate the meals at home. If the pandemic has rendered your traditional goods or services less useful or obsolete, it’s worth exploring other, more out-of-the-box ways your small business can still be a benefit to customers.

Go Digital

It’s no shock COVID-19 has led us all to live more digitally. From Zoom calls to online shopping, our day-to-day activity is dominated by screens more than ever before. For this reason, creating and maintaining a strong digital presence as a small business is paramount to success in the current environment. The goal is to make it easy for customers to feel connected to your business at all times, even when your brick-and-mortar may be closed or your hours have been reduced. A few of the ways small businesses have created digital open spaces for themselves during COVID-19 is through livestreaming on social media, offering online appointment scheduling and creating e-commerce opportunities.   

Leverage Tech

If your small business wasn’t the most tech savvy on the block pre-pandemic, now is the time to get up to speed. Customers have come to expect built-in tech — even at small businesses — to stay more socially distanced and comfortable while shopping during COVID-19. Contactless payment is one of the most popular of these features to arise from the pandemic. In fact, according to a Mastercard study cited on, 79% of respondents said they had transitioned to contactless payment, naming “safety and cleanliness as key drivers.” In order to accept touchless payment such as Apple Pay, you’ll need a card reader that is equipped with NFC (near field communication) technology. Payment readers like Square are integrated with NFC, making the addition of a contactless payment option relatively seamless. The effort will show your consumers you are taking their safety seriously and are actively adapting to their shopping needs. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many small business owners to think outside the box to stay afloat. But you don’t need to completely overhaul your business model to adapt to the current environment. In many cases, even small changes to your marketing strategy can have a big impact. As you dive back in to your day-to-day as a small business owner, use the above tips to ensure you’re rebuilding in a way that makes sense for the current environment and consumer need. And remember, we’re all in this together!


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