How can local businesses take advantage of the potential of the digital environment to combat the pandemic?

A new confinement is at the door, and with it a sea of fears, doubts and concerns arrives to settle, once again, in the lives of the Portuguese. This scenario gets worse for those who depend on busy streets to try, little by little, to return to normality. When everything seemed to be improving, reality betrayed us again and local businesses once again took a back seat. Closed establishments, fired employees, unpaid bills and a giant question mark facing the future. This is the scenario faced by most small and medium-sized companies in the country. In the face of this cruel, thankless and uncertain present, how can local businesses survive with so little support? Can the digital medium help in any way?

The potential of the Internet and social networks are no longer the target of skepticism in the times we live in. However, many establishments still do not take advantage of the advantages offered by the digital environment to benefit from their business. Some don’t believe in the usefulness of the online world, and others don’t feel like stepping out of their comfort zone. Thus, they end up suffering when, in circumstances like the current ones, they can no longer depend solely and exclusively on direct contact with customers. Will they manage to keep the door closed indefinitely, without any support or secondary way of generating income? The answer for most workers is no. As such, it is necessary for them to finally surrender to the enormous potential that the digital medium has to offer.

How should the digital medium be used to benefit local businesses?

  • Creating social media for your business

The creation of a social network is for your business an identity record on the internet. Facebook and Instagram are the most used social networks by most people. However, taking into account your target audience, it is possible to opt for other networks where they are also present. Make sure you properly identify your business in the created profile, and that you explain exactly what kind of services/products you offer.

  • Maintenance of your social networks

More important than creating a profile on a social network is updating it recurrently to keep followers abreast of news. Make sure you post content often and interact with your followers.

  • Adhesion to platforms of interest to your business

In the catering sector, it is essential to have your own page on sites like TripAdvisor or TheFork. From these, potential customers are introduced to your establishment and products. Put eye-catching images and share your menus.

While obvious to younger generations, these steps can really help revolutionize a business. Direct access to regular customers is immensely extended to digital platforms with a significantly greater reach. Thus, with the creation and maintenance of social networks, local commerce transcends physical barriers and reaches more customers.

On these platforms, it is essential to show a little of the identity of a business, as well as what it has to offer. The digital medium thus allows a given business to lose anonymity in such an important space as online.

Who is in charge of this transformation from the physical to the digital environment?

Many local commerce professionals do not have the necessary knowledge to take advantage of digital resources and use them in their favor. Furthermore, it currently does not seem sustainable to hire a marketing agency to handle this type of task. So, who can make this significant change?

Professionals working in local businesses certainly have children, grandchildren or nephews who are perfectly familiar with the digital world. It is to the younger generations that help must be sought. This is a great way to save money and maximize your chances of getting new customers and extra income.

In conclusion, no business should ignore the potential of the digital environment. This is an essential tool for maintaining jobs and stimulating growth in rusty establishments since the beginning of the pandemic. Excuses such as lack of resources or knowledge to carry out such a change are no longer accepted. After all, there are several ways of realizing ideas, no matter how complicated the circumstances.


Need help with your local commerce business? Get in touch.

Photography by: Inês Sousa e Pereira (@ines.coutorodrigues)

Catarina Fonseca
Catarina Fonseca

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