Several small brick and mortar retail businesses are struggling to make sales right now given the shelter-in-place orders. The primary reason seems to be that their pre-COVID business model did not involve e-commerce and the limiting factor to adapt in the current climate is that it would take too long to get their inventory online.
Here's how I learned about the issue:
Hoping to support the businesses and order my favorite goods, I checked many shop websites and social media feeds, and one month into the pandemic, the majority have about 30 items max posted for sale online out of the thousands of items they carry. And in many cases, getting the ~30 items posted after one month was positioned as a big achievement for the shop.
- I heard from one owner with a vibrant regional game and puzzle shop, that she would like to do online sales, but can't afford to pay staff to post their entire inventory online.
- I talked with another shop owner who told me anything in the store was available for local delivery if I remembered what I wanted and could let them know.
This leads me to wonder: How might we support small retail businesses – who are employers of many struggling to make ends meet -- in fast-tracking the process to get inventory online and resume positive cash flow?