Small businesses around the country have been disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Because of the inability to conduct business in-person, it’s no surprise that many small businesses have taken to digital and mobile sales channels to generate new leads and keep business afloat. And as the country prepares for the peak holiday shopping season, small businesses have doubled down on their digital transformation efforts to ensure they capitalize on this critical time of year.

Part of the reason for this shift to digital is the nationwide uptick in online customer engagement and shopping. Small businesses must be able to meet their customers where they are—and in the midst of the pandemic, more often than not that’s online. In fact, Forrester claimed online retail is growing 18.5% and that it will reach 20.2% overall penetration in North America by the end of this year, putting added pressure on SMBs to implement e-commerce capabilities and stay up and running with productivity tools. Because, let’s face it, customers are making purchasing decisions based on how convenient and user-friendly their digital experience is and will not shy away from forgoing brands that don’t have a well-established online presence.

At a time when efficiency is imperative for small businesses, owners should also consider the use of business productivity applications, like subscriptions to Microsoft 365, which are made available for free to T-Mobile for Business small business customers. By taking advantage of these tools, SMBs can improve collaboration and increase productivity.

In addition to these important tools for the holiday, there are many other ways that SMBs can continue to embrace digital transformation, such as:

  • Consider a Remote Business Model—Investigate ways you can run day-to-day operations remotely and meet new consumer preferences, like online-first shopping, curbside delivery and social media engagement. Establishing a digital presence, even with a simple website, to reach your customers online can increases accessibility. As more people use their mobile phone or tablet, ensuring the website is optimized for a mobile viewing experience is important. To make the most of your online presence, SMBs should also enable e-commerce and marketing functions like direct e-mail campaigns, text offers and content planning to let new and existing customers know you’re open for business.
  • Prioritize Security with a Mobile Mindset—As many small businesses shift to digital operations, this inevitably opens SMBs up to potential online security risks. Addressing security threats is an enormous challenge for small businesses, and those who leverage mobile devices for parts of their business are prime targets for cybercriminals who are using sophisticated tactics. According to Ponemon Institute, small and midsize companies that survive cyberattacks spend $1.2 million on average to mitigate the effects; yet this can be prevented with a few key steps. First, by enabling two-factor authentication to protect passwords and using a dedicated app rather than SMS messaging. Training employees is also key: SMBs should prioritize educating employees to use password management tools and how to recognize dangerous emails. Finally, using a firewall or virtual private network to maximize security for sensitive transactions over Wi-Fi is a great way to take action against cybercriminals.
  • Find Resources—Small businesses need more support than ever before. Whether online or in-person, it’s important for business owners to find resources that can help them navigate new digital hurdles. It’s OK to ask for help! At T-Mobile, we recognize that personalized customer support matters, which is why we more than doubled the size of our trained Team of Experts for Business Customers. Beyond this, there are additional support networks and resources available for SMBs. You can find them through your local SBA office or via SMB networks like SCORE, Small Business Development Centers, Alignable and others.

As the 2020 holiday season approaches, these key steps can help small businesses quickly take action to accelerate a mobile-first approach both now and through the future.

Holiday stock photo by VAKS-Stock Agency/Shutterstock