(BPT) - Small businesses are the backbone of the economy. Whether in a busy city or a sleepy suburb, we depend on the many beloved local shops and services that contribute to the vibrancy of our neighborhoods. Where we shop matters, and now more than ever small businesses need our support as they recover and rebuild from the effects of the pandemic.
Small businesses will play a vital role in helping communities around the world get back on their feet. They account for more than half of global employment, and COVID-19 has hit them hard. As a result of the pandemic, 43% of small businesses say they only have money to last six months. Women- and minority-owned businesses have been hit especially hard.
The pandemic has changed the way we shop, work and live — rapidly increasing digital commerce including online shopping, delivery services and curbside pick-up. For small businesses to meet these new essential expectations, they must adopt digital tools across their consumer experiences and back-office operations.
As a long time champion of small businesses, Visa is committing to help 50 million small businesses around the world enhance their digital offerings as they begin to reopen and rebuild. This includes the easy-to-adopt contactless payment technology that has become as much a part of the safe shopping experience in stores as face masks, hand sanitizer and glass screens, and ecommerce technology online.
As individuals, we all play a vital role in supporting the success of locally owned businesses to help our communities thrive. Every effort adds up, so consider these five simple things you can do to support local small businesses:
Make shopping locally a habit
Exploring neighborhood businesses is not only good for the economy, it can make you feel like a real part of your community. Make a daily effort to shop from small businesses for your needs — you’ll likely discover new locally sourced goods, and service providers who cater directly to local taste. From food and clothing to haircuts and car repair, there are many small business owners who would love the opportunity to help you. Use the Back to Business search tool at usa.visa.com to quickly search for local businesses that can help with your needs.
Pay it forward with a gift card
Supporting small business owners now is critical for small business owners. Buy gift cards for neighbors, friends and family as a thoughtful gesture to brighten their day, or just for yourself for future use. It a great way to support local merchants with a revenue stream while they’re operating under limited circumstances — keeping their doors open and workers employed.
Become part of the community on social
Social media platforms have become more than a marketing tool for small businesses — they are vibrant digital communities and can be as unique an experience as walking around Main Street. Sure, you can help grow a small business's online presence by liking them on social media. And leave them a positive online review so others who might shop there feel confident they'll have an excellent experience. Even if they don't have a social media page, you can mention them in your posts to remind your network of your favorite local businesses. But you can also get involved: Yoga studios, wine shops and taprooms, local craft centers and more are all offering virtual experiences and online transactions that keep one-to-one connections alive.
Get it curbside, or on your porch
Although social distancing has changed the way some small businesses can work, many are going above and beyond to meet customer needs. Ask about options like curbside pickup or touch-free delivery, which are becoming another indispensable part of our new normal. Buy online-pickup, in-store orders including curbside, jumped 87% year over year by late March, according to Adobe Analytics. And as shops re-open brick-and-mortar locations, many owners are integrating social distancing, increased cleaning and reconfiguring in-store layouts to help keep customers and employees healthy.
Purchase with purpose
By choosing to make a purchase from a small business, you help support an entrepreneur's dream and help them get through extraordinary times. You’ll also find that many small businesses in your community are reaching out to help others during the pandemic — whether it’s a restaurant donating food to front line workers, or a local distillery making hand sanitizer for the neighborhood. To help support small businesses during this time when many are struggling, there are ways you can get involved just by shopping. Pay with your Visa card and you’ll be entered for a chance to win $2,000 in small business gift cards and to pick a small business to receive a $5,000 grant from Visa1.
With more than 30 million small businesses estimated in the United States alone, you have the power to make a difference. These tips can help you support local businesses now, so the community prospers in the future.
1. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Open to 50 U.S. & D.C., 18 or older. Void in PR & where prohibited. Ends 07/19/20. For full official rules, including details on non-purchase entries and the link to the grant terms go here: https://usa.visa.com/pay-with-visa/visa-sweepstakes.html.html.