As organizations of all sizes are forced to adapt to a suddenly changed marketplace, millions of small businesses now face an unprecedented cash-crunch: The median U.S. restaurant has just 16 days of cash in reserve and most retailers can only cover another three.

There’s no question that the current medical crisis will affect us all for some time to come, and many of the radical shifts in consumer behavior we’re already seeing won’t necessarily revert after the crisis. There’s obviously no “easy” way to reduce losses and uncertainty, but we wanted to share some ideas and inspire your own creativity with a few digital strategies that are paying off. Let’s dig in! 

One of the easiest ways to improve cash-flow for any business is by selling gift cards: Get paid now, deliver later. Many local initiatives support restaurants this way, but every store owner is well advised to add physical and—especially right now—digital gift cards to their repertoire. Sellers on WooCommerce have various options to offer physical or digital gift cards, and platforms like Shopify have added, at least temporarily, a similar feature at no extra cost.

Speaking of gifts: Mother’s day is coming up May 10th and there is encouraging data from the UK. After a radical shift in online spend—away from travel and apparel towards “crisis mode shopping” on groceries—jewelry (+96%) and cosmetics (+67%) saw a huge spike a few weeks ago, when the United Kingdom celebrated its own Mother’s Day, on March 22nd. 

Comparison of online sales, the week leading up to March 22nd vs. first 6 weeks of 2020. Source:

With social distancing measures in place almost everywhere in the western world, we can expect more people shopping for birthdays and other occasions online. Make sure you offer— and promote—gift wrapping to be relevant for those shoppers. While you’re at it, allow more time for returns due to store closings and consider a generous, prominently featured return policy. Trust needs to be earned and 50% of shoppers have abandoned online carts due to lack of return options. 

Show confidence in your products by offering free returns. It’s easy for shoppers and easy for you, too. With scan-based return labels, available through many of the shipping apps out there, you only get charged if the label is used. These services also help you manage running sales on multiple channels and help you stay competitive through pre-negotiated rates with USPS, FedEx, and UPS.

Why settle for one sale if you might be able to sell a subscription? In times like this, weekly or monthly deliveries can be more valuable than ever for both sides. Recurring revenue and better inventory planning for you will mean reliable deliveries for your shoppers. WooCommerce businesses will find many options to manage subscriptions or recurring charges.

Another idea? Be creative. This isn’t just about household staples. Most of the 60 million gym members in the U.S. are currently without a place to lift, and some may sign up for personal training or yoga classes at home. Spas and hair salons could send monthly product packages for DIY treatments. If combined with some best communication practices, efforts like these should help maintain a loyal customer base.

In New York City, many restaurants had to change their business model from “high touch” dining experiences to “contactless delivery” overnight. Many kept it simple by answering the phone—often for the first time in years—to take pick-up orders, and offered everything from margarita kits to sushi. 

Good old phone means no extra costs, but some delivery services like DoorDash reduced or paused their commissions, too. Other platforms specialize in managing orders or pick-ups and let you deliver your food yourself. HospitalityNerds won’t charge any fees for the rest of 2020. While mainly marketing towards restaurants, this new platform helps any store organize pick-up or deliveries. Just turn their “menu” into a store directory, add a link to Calendly, and you can set up personal shopping sessions too, either virtual visits via FaceTime, or in-store if social distancing rules allow. 

Whatever changes you consider and ultimately try out, make sure you communicate through social media and send updates to your customer base

While not everyone will be able to compensate for the loss in (foot) traffic, these tactics should help create a little more predictability in uncertain times and give you a head-start for the post-crisis-era. While it may be tempting to take ad-hoc action, the best changes are the ones that help you grow your business right now AND post-crisis. 

Until then, if things take-off faster than you can handle, there’s even a free plugin to limit new orders, too.

How are you maneuvering through these uncharted waters? Any ideas you’d like to share? Tried any of the tactics mentioned? We’d love to hear it! Comment below or let us know how we can help.