The Pandemic Shift: What Happened When 5 Innovative Businesses Turned the Tables on Pandemic Restrictions
Learn How Businesses in Key Industries Addressed the Shutdown.
June 25, 2020
Now that we provided some guidance in Pandemic Preparedness: Part I for how to best prepare your organization’s online presence in the case of another shutdown, let’s take a look at five specific examples of how Sidekick Web Studio clients in industries most affected by the shutdown either pivoted their online presence to address the pandemic, or were already optimized for an event of this type.
FOOD & BEVERAGE
The restaurant industry was one of the hardest hit at the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, with many still operating under limited capacity and restrictions around the country currently. Restaurants were forced to move to takeout and delivery only, meaning if you were not already set up on your website and in your point-of-sale system for these types of orders, you had to do some major restructuring, fast.
Our client, Fat Shack, is a nationwide fast food franchise with 20+ locations. They realized the importance of having a website optimized for online ordering prior to the pandemic, and made some pretty major shifts in their website design last year to make it easier for customers to order online. We worked with them to create this dedicated Online Ordering page so customers could choose their state, find their location and then choose pick-up or delivery without ever leaving the page.
At the start of the shutdown, Fat Shack also added in a bold, red banner at the top of their site to alert people to the fact that their in-door dining was closed. Communication is key to customer satisfaction and the first place your customers will come when they have a question about your business is your website.
BRICK & MORTAR RETAIL
Brick & Mortar Retail also suffered a major blow due to the shutdown. While many major retailers already have e-commerce stores, locally-owned, boutique retailers are less likely to be already selling online. With advancements in technology, the barriers to entry for e-commerce are simply not as high as they used to be, and opening an online sales channel is beneficial to a retailer pandemic or not, no matter the size.
Our client, Wink Lash Studio + Bath Bar, has a popular salon and boutique in downtown Reno, NV. The boutique sells hundreds of bath and shower items, clothing, gifts, accessories and cosmetics. Last year, owner Jen Jeffers decided to open an online store to match the product offering in the Bath Bar. Because of that, Jen was already set up to sell all the same products directly on her e-commerce site after her boutique shut down due to the pandemic, so her customers experienced no loss of buying ability or connection with her brand. She also was able to make important announcements about the closure of her salon quickly and easily on the website using the website’s content management system.
While medical practices were deemed essential and remained open, they experienced the huge undertaking of protecting and communicating with their patients who had appointments scheduled during the peak of the virus. Our client, Colorado Retina, needed to act fast to disseminate critical information and used their website as one of the main channels to do so. We assisted them in adding in a pop-up that immediately greets you when you arrive to the site as well as a bright green, extremely noticeable and sticky top announcement bar that they update daily with new information. They also changed the top hero section on the home page to be revolving images with instructions at the bottom for what patients should expect upon appointment arrival. And finally, they added in a bright red bar on top of the hero image on the home page with different messages specifically targeted toward patients and referring providers. All this information is right in your face, on the home page the second you arrive to the site. Visitors aren’t required to navigate anywhere, which is crucial to maximum viewership and understanding.
Another client of ours, Lakewood Veterinary Hospital, was allowed to remain open to see animals, but had to close their waiting room and instead, invite inside clients and their pets directly from their car when it was time for their appointment. This missed a key requirement of the appointment process, however – the completion of required medical forms. To address this issue, we recreated all Lakewood Vet's paper forms in digital format so they could be filled out directly online prior to the appointment.
HEALTH & WELLNESS
The Health and Wellness industry traditionally thrives on in-person products and services. Gyms, personal trainers, yoga studios, and health clubs were all closed down due to the pandemic, which left many in the industry struggling to turn around a quick online solution to bridge the gap. We helped local trainer Tara Laferrara launch the first iteration of her online fitness platform, TL Method, in 2018, which undoubtedly was extremely important to have as gyms closed nationwide for months on end. This custom-built membership platform allowed members to access new workout videos and regimens that she uploaded each week. Members were automatically billed monthly for access to her online training program, directly through the site.
It’s important to remember that even though online channels may function as a secondary revenue streams to your business normally, during a pandemic they can quickly become your only revenue stream.
Many non-profits base their entire yearly budget on donations from annual fundraising events. The pandemic left many non-profits scrambling to move well-attended, annual events online, and figure out other ways to fundraise. Our client Mile High 360 has a variety of summer athletic fundraising events that were all in limbo after Coronavirus hit. They opted to move their large, annual cycling event to take place virtually, and communicated the new event details and instructions via the website to ensure patrons could still feel connected to the cause and easily stay involved. All event registrations and donations were also taken in via an embedded donation management software directly on the website to completely automate the enrollment process for the event.
Many things can cause (or even require) business owners to think outside the box as they are faced with a wide variety of internal or external factors that can affect the business. As we move forward into a post-coronavirus world, analyzing how you can be better prepared next time is key as you prepare your business strategy for the months and years to come.
UP NEXT: Our final article in the Pandemic Preparedness series reviews business agility, and how a few Sidekick Web Studio clients were able to not only respond to the pandemic, but use their website to play a key role in increasing customer leads, sales and trust as the crisis ensued.
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