Enable small businesses to renew and respond to effects of the pandemic using Power Apps
In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world. Along with illness and death, the pandemic brought widespread economic disruption. Businesses closed and unemployment surged to levels not seen since the Great Depression. To this day, effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are ongoing. A report from NBCI states that between February and April 2020, over 3.3 million businesses were inactive, indicating a slump of 22 percent. This drop-in active business is the largest ever recorded in the U.S., with a loss in business activity spreading across almost all industries. Yet, against all odds, some small businesses have shown that there is a way to thrive even during these uncertain times.
Let's take an example of a (fictitious) small business that sells plants and related products/accessories. To stay in the game, this business has completely turned the tide around. Traditionally, this business has relied on customers walking into the store to buy plants and other related items. The business model was straightforward - customers walk in, buy a plant(s) and then walk out. The business did not provide any other services in terms of plant maintenance, upsell accessories, tutorials, etc.
When the pandemic started, the entire city was under a serious lockdown, which meant this business was asked to close temporarily and people were encouraged to stay indoors. This lockdown impacted said business directly. As the business heavily depended on walk-ins and people being out and about, due to the pandemic, not only could the store not sell to customers anymore, their stock of green products also started perishing.
Once the city started re-opening, the business decided to respond to the pandemic, reset themselves, and renew how they did business - in the present and future. They not only wanted newer ways to sell and deliver, but also planned on exciting and educating their customers and building a “green” community in their city. Four traits this business used to thrive during the pandemic are:
1. Flexibility * Ability to deliver plants and accessories to your doorstep. * To save time for deliveries, provided employees/drivers the ability to deliver products promptly (Route optimization). * Remote and in-person plant styling sessions.
2. Excellent Communication * Create a portal where plants and products will be listed. Provide the ability to reserve, buy and create an online presence through a community. * If you are new to growing plants, it can be overwhelming to browse through the catalog without having help. Provide an automated chat that can guide the customer through the process of buying the perfect plant and correct accessories. * Ability to select a time slot (30 minutes) to visit the store/online for a one on one time with the plant's experts for any questions or suggestions.
3. Social Responsibility * Work with other small businesses to host plant community classes. Showcase available classes/ free events by other businesses to build community. * Providing in-person/ video classes providing plant therapy. Premium members can log in to the portal and sign up for 1:1 sessions.
4. Creativity * Create a premium/VIP member service that will enable members to sign up for video lessons, newsletters, discounts, premium services - like providing sensors, sending reminders for soil, Identify plants, etc. * In addition to their storefront, they decided to be proactive on social media. They planned to scrape/ read what people were saying/requesting and start interacting with them on prominent social media platforms like Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram.
Running a small business during a pandemic is a daunting task, especially if you are a small business. This business was able to flourish even during the COVID-19 outbreak by overcoming obstacles with technology. Using this demo, we want to showcase how understanding the value of technology can help a small business grow and flourish even during hardships.
Quick demo of our Social Listening App and Plant Identification App: