Coronavirus Business Update
The Qurate Retail Group, (owner of QVC and HSN) in partnership with the NRF Foundation, has introduced the Small Business Spotlight program to help out 20 selected small business across the country, in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. These businesses will get increased visibility and other support, using their broadcast and online resources.
From May 11 through June 6, QVC and HSN will share the stories behind these businesses on-air including live hits, during which the owners will Skype into the programming. In addition, every Saturday throughout the campaign, the QVC3 broadcast will air a show dedicated to the small businesses and their stories. The businesses will also be featured on dedicated landing pages at qvc.com and hsn.com, as well as featured on Zulily’s website.
The businesses will also be offered a “virtual mentorship” from Qurate Retail Group team members in specific functions, such as marketing, to help face uncharted challenges posed by the pandemic.
Additionally, at QVC and HSN, a selection of existing small business vendors are featured in a special section of the Small Business Spotlight page on qvc.com and hsn.com. More information about the program can be found here.
Zenefits, an HR, Benefits and Payroll software provider, has launched several COVID-19 initiatives to help its small business customers quickly respond to the massive amount of change they’re faced with.
The In It Together Program
- Zenefits payroll product is free for 12 months with an annual subscription to any of Zenefits’ base HR product subscriptions. This also applies to current Zenefits customers without payroll. “We believe small businesses shouldn’t have to decide between paying for payroll and making payroll.”
- All existing Zenefits payroll customers were granted one year’s free access to Zenefits’ Wellbeing app.
- Provide immediate training for small businesses on how to track sick and family leave in compliance with the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
- Provide all current customers with weekly HR Office Hours webcasts answering customer’s most pressing COVID-19 related HR questions.
- Expedite benefit enrollment and cases related to COVID-19.
New Product Support for CARES Act:
The new features in the Zenefits People Platform, created to help expedite the process to apply for both the Payroll Protection Program loans and the Family First Coronavirus Relief Act, include:
- For the PPP Application. A calculator that will offer the required payroll information to make applying for a PPP loan easier.
- For FFCRA Paid Time Off Tracking. A new and easy COVID-19 time entry feature allowing employees to choose from one of two new drop-down time-off options: COVID-19 Self Care or COVID-19 Family Care. Plus, a new leave of absence feature admins can use to track workers’ emergency sick leave taken to remain compliant with HR.
- Tax Relief. A new tax credit feature creating three new COVID-19 earnings types so amounts entered into these new earning types will automatically apply as a credit against all Social Security, Medicare, and federal income tax liability within the same calendar quarter.
News and Tools for Small Business Resources
- Free tools and information for all small businesses, regardless of vendor, multiple times per day at zenefits.om. Workest covers breaking updates to changing workplace regulations, relief and loans at national, state and local levels. The site also offers COVID-related templates and tools for SMBs.
- #OpenWeStand: Zenefits has also joined GoDaddy, Slack, PayPal, Salesforce, and others to support entrepreneurs and small businesses by donating resources, products, tools and more.
- People + Work Connect. Zenefits has also joined Accenture, ServiceNow and others to build a tech-enabled community of support to help match talented people affected by furloughs or layoffs with job opportunities.
Tools & Resources
90 Days Free Service When You Switch to T-Mobile
T-Mobile is expanding support for SMBs to help them navigate the COVID-19 crisis, offering up to 90 days free service to new and existing customers who switch their employees to T-Mobile.
90 Days Free: SMBs can get a one-time $100 port-in bill credit per ported line, through June 30th — that’s like getting up to 90 days free! To qualify, add a voice line on a qualifying Business Unlimited or Magenta for Business rate plan through the T-Mobile for Business sales team and port in a number from Verizon or AT&T for that new line within 60 days. JT-Mobile is offering award-winning benefits and 5G access included at no extra charge. For more details on the offer, head here.
Taking Care of Business: T-Mobile for Business kicked off a new Q&A series on Facebook featuring interviews with small business leaders to discuss the shifts they made to weather the COVID-19 storm.
Supporting Small Business: T-Mobile signed and renewed its commitment to help keep consumer and small business customers connected through June 30, as part of the FCC’s “Keep Americans Connected Pledge.”
To learn more about T-Mobile’s COVID-19 response, go here. Find out more about T-Mobile for Business.
SAP Concur Joins Small Business Coalition
SAP Concur has joined the Stand for Small (SFS) coalition organized by American Express, which provides small businesses with valuable services, offers, and access to tools and expertise via a digital hub.
SAP Concur will participate, offering complimentary access to Concur Expense and Concur Invoice for 30 days through 2020. Small businesses can sign up to receive:
- Expense: Real-time visibility into discretionary spending as it happens with Concur Expense. While expense types have changed, some of the current “home office” expenses include:
- Shipping costs to send office chairs to employees’ home offices
- Second monitors and stand up desks
- General office supplies, such as pens, paper, printer ink, etc.
- Home internet and phone service
- Complete home office furniture
- Invoice:Automate AP to cut costs and make more strategic decisions while simplifying B2B payments with partners like American Express.
Get additional information for Concur Expense, Concur Invoice and SAP’s Stand For Small participation.
Loan Forgiveness Calculator for PPP
The American Institute of CPAs has created a loan forgiveness calculator for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Questions surrounding loan forgiveness have been a major stumbling block to successful PPP implementation, and the AICPA calculator is designed to resolve many of these issues.
The calculator is based on existing PPP guidance from the Treasury and SBA, as well as additional recommendations from the AICPA. Both the calculator and the underlying recommendations have been made in consultation with an AICPA-led small business funding coalition whose members provide services and support to businesses that employ more than 75 million people.
Small businesses can have their PPP loans forgiven in full if the funds were used for eligible expenses over an 8-week period and other criteria are met. The amount of the loan forgiveness may be reduced based on the percentage of eligible costs attributable to non-payroll costs, any decrease in employee headcount and decreases in salaries or wages per employee.
The AICPA loan forgiveness calculator is divided into three sub-categories: 1) non-payroll expense tracking, such as mortgage payments, rent and utilities; 2) FTE (full-time job equivalent) reduction, which tracks whether businesses shed any employees over the 8-week period; and 3) payroll accumulator, which helps small businesses capture the amount of eligible payroll costs and whether wages on a per employee basis declined in the 8-week covered period. These sub-fields are then used to make a loan forgiveness calculation.
The calculator relies on several assumptions contained in the AICPA’s recommendations, such as how to calculate FTEs and the aligning of the 8-week covered period with the beginning of a pay period, rather than the date the PPP loan proceeds were disbursed. These assumptions are noted in the calculator template, as is a disclaimer that, in instances where SBA guidance is unclear, a CPA’s judgment and interpretation of the act may be necessary.
Get more information about the AICPA’s general resources for CPA firms on small business relief.
Introducing Facebook Shops
Facebook just introduced Facebook Shops, with a goal of making “shopping seamless and empower anyone from a small business owner to a global brand to use [their] apps to connect with customers.”
With Facebook Shops you can easily set up a single online store on both Facebook and Instagram. And it’s free. You can choose the products you want to feature then customize the look and feel of your shop with a cover image and accent colors that showcase your brand.
Consumers can find Facebook Shops on a business’ Facebook Page or Instagram profile, or discover them through stories or ads. From there, they can browse the full collection, save products they’re interested in and place an order — either on the business’ website or without leaving the app if the business has enabled checkout in the US.
And just like being in a physical store customers can ask someone for help, in Facebook Shops they can message a business through WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram Direct to ask questions, get support, track deliveries and more. In the future, they’ll be able to view a business’ shop and make purchases right within a chat in WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram Direct.
Facebook is also investing in features across their apps to help customers discover products they’re interested in and make purchasing easier.
Instagram Shop: launching this summer starting in the U.S.
Live Shopping Features: Soon, sellers, brands and creators will be able to tag products from their Facebook Shop or catalog before going live and those products will be shown at the bottom of the video so customers can tap to learn more and purchase.
Connecting Loyalty Programs to Your Facebook Account: Facebook is testing ways for consumers to make it easier to earn rewards with businesses by enabling them to connect their loyalty programs to their Facebook account. And they’re exploring ways to help small businesses create, manage and surface a loyalty program on Facebook Shops.
Working with Partners: Facebook is working with partners like Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Channel Advisor, CedCommerce, Cafe24, Tienda Nube and Feedonomics that offer powerful tools to help entrepreneurs start and run their businesses and move online. Now they’ll help small businesses build and grow their Facebook Shops and use our other commerce tools.
New Amazon Shop for Makers
Amazon Handmade, which features genuinely handcrafted products from toys to crafts to self-care to jewelry, has seen a 100% uptick in new Makers in its U.S. store since the beginning of the year, compared to the same time last year. Many makers and small businesses around the country are selling on Amazon to reach new customers and stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.
To help connect customers with these businesses, Amazon launched a new shop which includes products that are perfect for the quarantine—shipped and sold directly by local makers across the U.S. The new Amazon Handmade shop features makers across the six regions of the U.S.: Pacific, Rocky Mountains, Southwest, Midwest, Northeast, and Southeast—and a curated experience giving customers the ability to shop locally from each region and state. Here’s more info about the shop on Amazon’s blog, Day One.
Last year, more than 15,000 SMBs selling in Amazon’s stores in the U.S. surpassed $1 million in sales.
Free Month of Services for New SMB Customers from Charter
To support America’s small businesses as they help restart the economy, Charter Communications, Inc. today announced it will provide one month of free services to any new customer that signs up for Spectrum Business as their connectivity provider. Businesses interested in the offer, which applies to all of Charter’s internet, phone and TV services, can learn more at Business.Spectrum.com/reopen or by calling 1-833-537-0730.
Charter’s offer for a free month of Spectrum Business services is available throughout the company’s 41-state footprint and aligned with state timelines to resume business operations. More information is available at Business.spectrum.com/reopen. Some restrictions apply.
Charter has also launched new online resources to help business owners navigate economic challenges, federal loan and subsidy programs, and tools to make the most of their Spectrum services, at no additional cost. Additionally, the company’s advertising sales business, Spectrum Reach, partnered with Waymark, a production technology company that offers free access to a unique video content tool that small businesses can use to make a video on their own.
Self-Check Temperature Kiosk
IntraEdge just launched Janus, its contactless privacy first, self-check temperature kiosk, which is now available for nationwide order and delivery. This is an enterprise-level device.
With the Janus kiosk, companies can comply with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s daily health check expectations and user privacy with this turn-key contactless, market-ready solution.
Janus’ contactless check-in process has four simple steps, so employees and customers can go about their business as usual. This check-in process can be integrated into existing HR systems and can support card scanning and manual inputs as needed. Janus can be installed freestanding, using a wall mount or on a countertop. All touchpoints on Janus are within ADA reach along with an audio interface for visually impaired users.
Janus is available nationwide and can be delivered within four weeks of placing an order. Get more information.
Polls & Surveys
SMBs Hit Hard by COVID-19 Crisis
Facebook just released its State of Small Business report with the Small Business Roundtable. This is the first of an ongoing series of reports “uncovering the situation facing American businesses. These were planned before the virus struck, when we had anticipated this first report would paint a much brighter picture. Instead, it brings home the scale of the crisis that our economy is facing and helps point to where help is most needed.”
They surveyed 86,000 small business owners and employees.
Small businesses are closing their doors to an uncertain future.
- 31% say their SMB is not currently operating.
- Among personal businesses, that number rises to 52%—55% of which are women-owned
SMBs’ biggest challenges are access to capital and customer behavior.
- 28% say the biggest challenge they’ll over the next few months is cash flow.
- 20% say their biggest challenge will be lack of demand.
To adapt to the ongoing crisis, SMBs are turning to internet tools.
- 51% of businesses report increasing online interactions with their clients.
- 36% of operational SMBs say they’re now conducting all their sales online.
- 35% of businesses that have changed operations have expanded the use of digital payments.
Small biz owners are struggling to balance running a business and caring for their households.
- 47% say they’re burned out trying to take care of business and household responsibilities at the same time.
- 62% say they spend between 1-4 four hours a day on domestic or household care activities.
- More women owner-managers (33%) reported that household responsibilities affected their ability to focus on work “a great deal” or “a lot” than men (25%).
Employees are facing dire economic circumstances.
- 74% of employees don’t have access to paid sick leave or paid time off (70%)
- Only 45% of owners and managers say they’d rehire the same workers when their businesses reopened. The same was true for 32% of personal businesses.
Still, SMB owners and managers remain optimistic and resilient.
- 57% report they feel optimistic or extremely optimistic about the future of their businesses.
- Only 11% of operating businesses expect to fail in the next three months, should current conditions persist.
The Role of IT in Remote Work
1Password just released a new exploring the “pivotal and under-celebrated role” IT plays in the massive shift to extended remote work for SMBs (from 1% to 91% of U.S. SMB office workers in just a matter of weeks).
- A massive shift in mindset: Just 1% of employees in SMBs were primarily remote workers before COVID-19, yet 67% reported becoming more favorable towards WFH.
- IT has absolutely crushed it (quietly): Only 15% of SMB employees say their company wasn’t prepared for the rapid switch to widespread working from home for an extended period of time.
- SMBs are more flexible with security rules: 46% of SMB firms report relaxing some security protocols and requirements, compared to just 19% of large firms.
- 20% of employees at SMBs say it’s more important to have convenience at work than security
- SMBs follow security rules better at home: 72% of SMB IT departments say they think employees are following security protocols and requirements better during WFH (compared to 57% of enterprises)
There’s more information in this blog post.
Small Business Workforce Trends
The April Small Business Workforce Trends in the Quarantine Economy report from Gusto shows:
- Driven by significantly increased furlough rates, net reduction in small business headcount and lost wages continued into April. Gusto data shows that furloughs increased by 138% from March to April. Additionally, furloughs accounted for 42% of total lost wages in April, compared to only 22% in March.
- Small business headcount remains in critical condition, but late April provided the first early signs of stabilization since peak layoffs. The week of April 27 saw a 72% increase in the hiring rate compared to the week of April 6, which was the lowest point. Five states saw a positive net change in headcount of approximately 1% or more across the full month of April.
- Workers who earn less are hit harder by lost wages. Hourly employees averaged 26% less pay in April compared to previous months, while salaried workers experienced a 4% average reduction in wages. Additionally, hourly workers are being furloughed nearly five times more frequently (397%) than salaried employees.
Summary from report: The data from the second half of April provides initial evidence of stabilization, with layoff rates returning to levels lower than the initial peak of the crisis in early April. Also, hiring rates are starting to return to pre-COVID levels. This stabilization may be due to many factors, including small businesses who received Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans rehiring employees in order to meet forgiveness requirements, the start of limited business operations that require modest rehiring, and plans in some states to reopen certain types of businesses in early May.
Payroll data is a leading indicator of where the small business economy is headed, and this report suggests that we are in a critical period for understanding how the crisis will affect small businesses going forward. Our data indicates that small business employment is no longer in a free fall. But given the losses in employment since March, if PPP loans run out, and/or if many businesses rehire only a fraction of their employees, we could easily see the economic impact deepen and expand further.
SMBs Pivot to Cope with COVID-19 Pandemic
Some SMBs are finding success in pivoting the products and service they offer during the global pandemic, according to a recent Vistage survey, which shows 47% made changes to the products and service they offer, as a direct result of the pandemic. And 49% added news products or service to help them sustain long-term business growth.
The May CEO Confidence Index also revealed key findings about how CEOs are feeling about the economy, as well as the plans they have as it pertains to talent management and returning to work.
- 39% of business owners expect the economy to get worse over the next 12 months, and as a result 47% of business owners also expect their profitability to worsen in the next 12 months
- 21% of business owners say their revenues have already decreased 25-49% because of the COVID-19 pandemic
- 82% of those surveyed plan to leverage the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and out of those, 88% have already received funds
- Another 44% of business owners are also relying on a line of credit from banks during this time, to stay on their feet
- 20% have implemented employee layoffs and an additional 11% are planning to implement layoffs in the near future
- 18% have implemented employee furloughs and an additional 7% are planning to implement furloughs in the near future
- 42% of SMB CEOs are planning to implement temperature checks and testing requirements for employees who are returning to work, and 77% are increasing the cleaning of their facilities
Things are Bad—Will They Get Worse?
New research from SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) warns the state of small business could go from bad to worse, as 52% expect to be out of business within six months. The survey examining the impact of COVID-19 identifies significant, widespread economic pain—such as layoffs, furloughs, and lost revenue—that needs to be treated as public and private sector leaders move to reopen the economy.
The survey of U.S. small business owners found:
- 52% expect to be out of business within six months
- 54% have laid off employees while 22% have furloughed employees
- 62% report a general decrease in revenue while 12% report a general increase
- Of those small businesses reporting decreased revenue, 47% report losses of 10-30%, 41% report losses exceeding 30%, and 13% report a total loss of revenue.
“SHRM has tracked COVID-19’s impact on work, workers, and the workplace for months,” says SHRM President and CEO, Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, “but these might be the most alarming findings to date. Small business is truly the backbone of our economy. So, when half say they’re worried about being wiped out, let’s remember: We’re talking about roughly 14 million businesses.”
The survey is set to recur on June 17.
- COVID-19 Research: Impact of the Pandemic on Small Businesses
- SHRM Resources on COVID-19 and the Workplace
- Navigating COVID-19 with SHRM
What Employees Think about Remote Working
As part of a recent study collected by O.C. Tanner in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom, 91% of employees say they’d prefer to work from home at least some of the time—even after the pandemic is over.
When asked about the right balance of remote/office work once returning to the office is allowed:
- Only 9% of employees noted that they do not want to work remotely
- 26% of employees would like to work from home at least one day per week
- 16% of employees would like to work from home at least two days per week
- 18% of employees would like to work from home at least three days per week
- 11% of employees would like to work from home at least four days per week
- 21% of employees would like to work from home full-time
When asked if their company would support remote work in the future:
- 61% of employees say their employer would support remote work after the pandemic
- For the 39% of employees who do not feel their companies would be supportive, 69% say they would quit their jobs for a similar role elsewhere
Get Informed—Watch it!
Virtual Summit—How to Have Employees Return Safely to Work
ADP® will host a complimentary virtual summit on May 29 to provide critical insights, best practices and actionable guidance to help employers navigate a safe and effective return to work. The event, Looking Beyond the Curve: Recovery and Engagement in the New World of Work, will run from 11:00am to 5:00pm ET and feature ADP experts leveraging unique research and data on topics including business continuity, evolving legislation, navigating compliance, and activating a workforce in flux.
Four event sessions will guide attendees through key considerations in the return to work:
- The Workforce Outlook Has Changed: Redefining the Future of Work: This conversation, fueled by ADP Research Institute’s®comprehensive analysis on the workforce, will reveal important insights on the state of the economy to help employers manage the changes to the way we work.
- No Handshakes Please: Managing and Activating Talent in the New World of Work: As organizations navigate challenges in acquiring, managing, and engaging their workforce, an increasing number of workers are finding themselves in states of flux. This session will explore new pressures for leaders and how to approach management to engage their workforce and achieve shared success moving forward.
- Legislation for the Next Normal: Navigating Regulations and Staying Compliant: This discussion will help leaders navigate the changes that lie ahead as organizations move forward and workers return to the workplace. Topics will include legislative changes, health and safety, absence and PTO policies, privacy and human rights issues, and more.
- Industry-Leading Strategic Advisors Share Their Back-to-Business Game Plan: Attendees will hear from industry-leading advisors, across accountants, brokers and HCM consultants, about how they partner with their clients to adapt, mitigate risk, and leverage technology in a rapidly changing business environment.
In addition to the virtual event, more than 15 additional, on-demand sessions will be available on topics including payroll tax deferrals, leave management, HR outsourcing, employee engagement, safety and privacy, agile pay practices, financial wellness and more. Attendees can access these complimentary sessions at their leisure once the event concludes to continue learning based on their individual phase of recovery. And the entire will be available as a recording once the live event concludes.
You can register here.
Small Business Relief
QuickBooks recently held its first Town Hall featuring Senators Marco Rubio, R-FL, and Ben Cardin, D-MD, to discuss the future of small business relief.
You can watch the Town Hall on YouTube or Zoom or read the full transcript.
Here’s are 5 quick insights from the event, but be sure to check out the full report.
1. We could be facing restrictions through the end of 2021: According to Senator Rubio, we could be facing social-distancing restrictions through the end of 2021. “That may be how long it takes to develop a vaccine, clear it, and make it broadly available,” he says. “We have to start thinking in those terms, not in terms of ‘everything will be fine by November.’”
Knowing this, business planning to reopen should plan with restrictions still in place—restrictions they may have to pay for. Senator Rubio says, “Reopening might require you to undertake some expenses that you may not have in your budget.”
2. PPP loans could extend beyond their 8-week terms: PPP loans were intended to cover at least eight weeks of payroll costs for small businesses. But what happens when eight weeks are up and businesses still haven’t opened to their full capacity due to safety restrictions?
Senator Cardin says, “When we crafted this program, we didn’t anticipate that we would still have the type of economic climate eight weeks later where small businesses cannot operate at full capacity. So we need to be flexible.”.
3. A third round of PPP funding is likely on the way: Both senators agree that the second round of PPP funding may deplete within the next few weeks. And a third round of PPP funding may be needed to support more small businesses.
“I fully believe there will be a third round,” say Senator Cardin, who hopes the next round will dedicate those funds to the businesses that truly need them.
4. The restaurant industry may take longer to recover: “To some extent, restaurants were the first ones thrown into the crisis,” say Senator Rubio. “They’re going to be the last ones that come out of it for a lot of different reasons outside of their control.”
5. If you follow the rules, your loan may be forgiven: Business owners are concerned about the forgiveness rules changing after they accept a loan. Senator Cardin set the record straight, “I have a very, very high degree of confidence that if you follow the law that we passed, you’re going to get the loan forgiveness,” he says.
But he also acknowledges the rules business owners are required to follow to be eligible for forgiveness are restrictive. And he suggests Congress may change some of those standards to make it easier for businesses to get maximum forgiveness. “That could happen,” he says. “But you can’t plan on those changes—you have to plan on the law being how it is today.”
QuickBooks is “working on some forms and reports that can be produced out of QuickBooks that can help automate the process to request forgiveness.”
Business Class Provides Essential Business Education
Need help navigating these challenging times? American Express recently launched Business Class to provide essential business education in an easily digestible format to help entrepreneurs do just that. You’ll find a one-stop resource hub, daily email newsletters and Instagram Live “Office Hours” held live on the @AmericanExpressBusiness Instagram account featuring a notable business owner to share expert insights and personalized stories. The live discussions follow an interactive Q&A format, allowing followers to receive answers to their own questions in real time.
Andy Cohen to Host Fundraiser to Benefit Small Business Relief
Opportunity Fund, the nation’s leading nonprofit small business lender, is holding Eat. Drink. Give. on May 28 from 6-7:30pm PT / 9-10:30 ET, a night of online fun, food and cocktails emceed by Andy Cohen of Watch Happens Live with Andy Cohen, to benefit America’s small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The event, open to all with a suggested donation, also features restaurant and catering entrepreneurs that are Opportunity Fund clients. Donations raised during the online event will benefit small businesses nationwide through Opportunity Fund’s Small Business Relief Fund.
“This is going to be a very special night for a very important cause—helping our small businesses survive this once-in-century crisis. We have to decide what we want our Main Streets to look like when this is over, and we must act decisively to keep small businesses alive and ready to rebuild. This is a fun way to do something really important,” says Opportunity Fund and Accion Opportunity Fund CEO Luz Urrutia. “Order some food or cook a meal, pour yourself a drink, enjoy some laughs with some amazing people and know that your support will make a huge difference to small business owners and their employees who have been devastated by this pandemic.”
Donations will go to Opportunity Fund’s Small Business Relief Fund, which aims to raise $50 million. The Fund provides critical financial relief and business assistance to small businesses impacted by COVID-19, especially women, minority, and immigrant-owned businesses left behind by the CARES Act. Opportunity Fund has already provided deferred payment terms to over 2,600 of its existing small business clients within the first weeks of the economic crisis. Accion Opportunity Fund has reached nearly 3,000 small business owners in 36 states with educational resources online to help them navigate business challenges they are facing. Every $1 donated provides for $0.40 of small business debt relief, $0.40 toward loss mitigation and $0.20 to deploy new capital.
Everyone from across the country and around the world is invited. Partygoers can RSVP here.
Get Informed—Read it!
COVID-19 Retail Trends in An All-DTC World
Earlier this year, Bluecore released its 2020 Retail Trends report, based on a survey of what retailers were prioritizing for 2020. But, with the onset of a global pandemic, supply chain crisis, and a hard-hit economy, a lot has changed.
Bluecore set out to understand what new consumer and shopper behaviors mean for retailers, in the new now. To do this, they reviewed shopper interactions with and activity across over 70 retail brands in the apparel, beauty, pharmacy, sports/outdoors, and luxury sub-verticals. Bluecore then reviewed shopper interactions with and activity across three business models: traditional chain stores, traditional department stores, and digital natives.
Read the full report—it’s quite interesting.
Resources & More
Looking for resources, tips and actionable advice from experts? You’ll find all this and more in the COVID-19 Business Resources section from business.com. The section contains an all new Diary Series spotlighting real stories from small business owners who are pivoting during the crisis; editorial content covering the latest news, tips and resources; plus, expert advice directly from those on the front lines.
COVID-19 Business Resources include:
Real Stories from Small Business Owners: Highlighting the resiliency of the small business community, the new Small Business Diary Series features three small business owners and details how they are coping with the challenges facing so many right now. If you are interested in discussing your own experience during the COVID-19 crisis, join our community and share your story.
The Best Products and Tools to Use Right Now: Driven by business.com’s extensive product reviews section, the site includes the industry’s best tools and services for working remotely and staying afloat during this time. Specific reviews including remote access software, remote PC access, business loans, conference call services, even telemedicine software.
Expert Advice and Direct Access Through the business.com Community: Members can get answers to their most pressing business questions directly from finance professionals in the community. Membership is free!
A Dedicated Editorial Team Covering the Latest News and Developments: More than 75 articles from our team are available covering the topics and concerns keeping business owners awake at night: PPP Loans, customer retention, CARES Act, employee support, marketing, remote work, cybersecurity, lead generation, cash flow and more.
Returning to work?
If your business is getting ready to resume operations, here’s a checklist for reopening your business from OnPay.
Laid Off Due to COVID-19?
The United States has seen record unemployment due to COVID-19. Hardest-hit employees have been those in the travel, hospitality, and service industries, given the face-to-face nature of their businesses.
Tech companies have largely been able to transition to working from home to maintain jobs. However, 8% of women and 5% of men surveyed report being laid-off or furloughed. But women in tech are 1.6x as likely to be laid-off or furloughed than men.
Read more about the Impact of COVID-19 on Women in Tech on Trust Radius.
Checklist for Small Businesses that are Re-Opening as Restrictions are Lifted
Guest post by Vicki Salemi, career expert at Monster.com
Prepare a timeline for reopening and have a communications plan ready: Opening will likely be in phases and based on specific regions. Having goals in mind and setting dates will help you better stay on track and give employees and customers an idea of when you will reopen. Employees are longing for information and direction from their managers, according to communications executive Lynn Munroe. She urges companies to let employees know exactly what changes they can expect when they return. Create a plan that details how office logistics will change based on square footage, what meeting policies are, how elevators and break rooms will work. Outline all the changes at work and let employees know the plan ahead of the return.
Create a Physically Safe Environment: According to Paul Solomon, an executive recruiter at Solo Management, there are many safety factors to figure out for reopening—so give yourself a good amount of time to formulate a plan of action for this. With physical distancing continuing, managers will need to consider how far apart both employees and customers can be from each other. In addition, you will likely need masks, gloves and hand sanitizer on hand for employees. It’s also important to communicate a system to employees, i.e. wiping down community appliances after use, sanitizing upon entering, etc.
Create an Emotionally Safe Environment: Michelle McQuaid, bestselling author and well-being teacher thinks one of the most important things to do is to create “safe spaces” for staff to talk about the struggles they may experience as they try to adjust to the “new normal” of maintaining physical distance as they work together. The best way to lower anxiety is to normalize the uncertainty people may experience and the discomfort they may encounter with each other when facial expressions are hidden behind masks, there are limits on how many people can be in a room together, or not everyone is back in the office. You must as an office talk about these things.
Create A More Robust Online Presence: The pandemic crisis taught many small businesses that their online presence needed both updating and strengthening. As many businesses had to shift to online sales and fulfillment, business heads around the country understood their digital transformation efforts were coming together hastily and in a patchwork manner. Brian Byer of NYC digital marketing firm Blue Fountain Media suggests that this is the time to bolster that online presence, and turn the lessons learned during the pandemic into an online strategy they can leverage going forward.
Re-establish the Work/Life Balance: Staying at home merged work life with family life and it’s been a tough adjustment. An even bigger adjustment has been conducting so much of our work online. Bethany Baker of A-GAP, a foundation that helps people with digital wellness suggests that some employees may need to unlearn some bad tech habits and re-establish the work/life balance experts tell us is so paramount to a healthy life.
Consider an Employee Mentoring Program: According to a recent study, more than 60% or employees feel disconnected from co-workers. According to Gracey Cantalupo, CMO of MentorcliQ, many small and medium businesses are discovering the positive effects of virtual mentoring to recharge workplace relationships—especially with the real possibility that some if not all of your workforce will continue working remotely.
Be flexible: This is not an easy time for anyone, and adjustments will be needed. Preparation will be key to reopening but be sure you are ready for any obstacles along the way. In an uncertain time, we all have to stick together.
COVID-19 Will Change Job Recruiting; Here’s How Companies Need To Adapt
Guest post by Jack Whatley, recruiting strategist and author, Human Code of Hiring
The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the business world and put tens of millions out of work in the U.S. At the same time, it’s caused a seismic shift in the way many companies operate, the biggest change being that more business functions are done while working remotely.
But along with the work-from-home aspect, the fallout from the coronavirus will fundamentally change recruiting and hiring practices long after the pandemic has passed. Social distancing, shelter-in-place orders and the forced closing of businesses will change the way we look at employment. No longer will the promises of changing the world attract the modern workforce. Safety and job stability are at the top of the mind for the modern job seeker—and that changed what they want in a job.
Businesses will have to become employee-centric as well as customer-centric. The companies that have the ability to capture that part of the employee message, put it into their employer branding, and reinforce it throughout recruitment marketing campaigns are going to be the companies moving ahead in a much different world.”
As states begin different stages of reopening for business, here’s what companies should do when recruiting, hiring, and re-hiring:
Create a communication campaign. If you’re a company that laid off employees with the hope of bringing them back, you have to reach out with genuine communication that goes the extra mile. It should let them know in detail what steps the company is taking. Those people who were let go unexpectedly and lived paycheck to paycheck, they’ll be emotionally drained and stressed. A company bringing them back needs to make them feel valued, so the company doesn’t lose that relationship.
Be careful in rehiring. Rehiring won’t be a straightforward process for some companies. Circumstances won’t allow them to rehire or bring back from furlough all of their former employees. Employers must be cautious in determining who to bring back to the workplace; they need to mitigate the risk of potential discrimination claims, which could be based on the decision not to bring back certain employees. Employers will need to have a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for choosing which employees to rehire. Those reasons include seniority, operational needs or documented past performance issues. Employers should document their decision-making process now, before deciding who will be invited back.
Focus on expanded employee rights. A new appreciation for workers may be emerging as state and local governments mandate paid sick leave and family leave during the outbreak. Some companies are shifting their focus to hourly workers as well for those perks. This change could become permanent as organizations work hard to hire new staff and increase retention rates.
Streamline the process. If the recruiting process gets backlogged, it causes problems for your current employees and an under-staffed company. It becomes frustrating for them, because they’re forced to work overtime, and the big workload kills morale and increases turnover.
Most companies look at hiring people as a transaction—they need to fill a seat. They place a job posting and fill the job. In the new world, that will no longer be the case. To get the best talent, companies will have to engage people sooner, more thoughtfully, and put a higher priority on what employees value most in a job.
5 Coronavirus Stimulus Check Scams and How to Avoid Them
Guest post from SocialCatfish.com
The distribution of $1,200 stimulus checks to Americans has given rise to unprecedented online scams. The FTC has thus far received 18,235 reports of fraud costing victims $13.44 million; Google reported it is blocking 18 million scam emails every single day; and 150,000 fraudulent stimulus check sites have already launched.
1—Robocall check scams: The scammer will call pretending to be the IRS and ask for your personal financial information. They will claim they need this to deposit the stimulus check into your account and will also ask for a fee to deposit say check. In reality, they want your information so that they can pretend to be you, claim the check for themselves. They can also drain your bank account of your funds with this information and will keep the fee for themselves with no check, in return.
How to Avoid: Do not give out any personal information. The government already has your information on file from when you filed your taxes. The stimulus check will either be automatically deposited into your account or you will get it mailed to your house.
2—Email and text scams: Scammers will pretend to be the IRS or federal government by emailing or texting you a link to click to receive your check. If you click on the link your electronic device will get plagued with malware and your information gets stolen.
How to Avoid: Do not click on any links that are emailed or texted to you. Again, the government already has your information and checks are either directly deposited or mailed.
3—Identity theft scams: If you have not received your stimulus check yet and the official IRS website says otherwise, it could be possible that you are a victim of identity theft. This means that a scammer has found a way to steal your information, like your SSN, and has claimed your stimulus check for themselves.
How to Avoid: If you believe to have been a victim of this kind of fraud, you can report it here.
4—Google search scam: Scammers have created copies of the official IRS “Get My Payment” site and have updated their search engine terms so that people conducting google searches for information find these fake sites. Once a person finds their site, they think it is the official IRS website and will enter their information.
How to Avoid: Do not go on any website to get your stimulus check unless it is an official .gov or .ca site and beware of being redirected to a website from a non-reputable news source.
5—Third-party stimulus check scams: Scammers have come up with their own stimulus check programs claiming that they can give you additional money along with the government. They will send you letters in the mail, put pamphlets on your car, or send you an email or social media message trying to advertise their program. This happened to a man in Florida who claimed to have gotten an official-looking check of $3,000 mailed to him with a letter. Another example of this is a Costco relief program, claiming to help with groceries and money during this time.
How to Avoid: Only believe in the stimulus check programs announced by the government reported by reputable news outlets. If you cannot find it reported by reputable news outlets, it is s scam.
Check out the full report: 5 Stimulus Check Online Scams to Avoid, based on information from the FTC, FBI and IRS during the Coronavirus pandemic.
If you encounter a coronavirus scam, contact local law enforcement or file a complaint with the FTC. For more information on how to get your stimulus check and if you are eligible, visit the legit IRS website.
Coronavirus stock photo by gpointstudio/Shutterstock