We live in a different world today than we did 2 weeks ago. Few of us thought about what would happen if everyone in the country, or the whole world for that matter, were forced into social distancing and required to stay home. I live in Colorado and one of my favorite activities during the winter/spring months is to get outside and go skiing. Even that isn’t available right now. Schools have been closed (the college classes I teach have all been moved online). No church. No going to work (many people are working from home). No shopping (even if you could, the shelves are empty). No going to conferences or tradeshows. This could be the start of a complete economic transition worldwide.

As uncertainty over coronavirus continues to grow, consumers are becoming more cautious about shopping in public places and are utilizing online shopping as a means of getting necessities.

Nearly half (47.2%) of US internet users polled by Coresight Research last month said they are currently avoiding shopping centers and malls. If the outbreak worsens, roughly three-quarters (74.6%) said they will steer away from shopping centers altogether. Older consumers are more likely to take these precautions—nearly nine in 10 of those over 45 said they will if coronavirus worsens—though significant numbers of younger consumers are bypassing brick-and-mortars as well.

If the outbreak worsens, roughly three-quarters (74.6%) said they will steer away from shopping centers altogether. Share on X

As a business owner with a website, this creates huge opportunities. People still want and need to buy your goods and services and they will continue to gravitate towards value. It’s time to rethink how we are going to provide that value to our customers. If you own a gym, perhaps you need to make workouts available online where your clients can follow along. If you sell a physical product and have not fully embraced having an online store, this would be a good time to think differently. If you sell services of any kind, doing so remotely can be easily accomplished using Zoom. But this will require that you do more than just try to ride out the current situation.

This may not be just in a temporary setback. It could be the new norm for many more months or more. Will we ever get back to where we can go to concerts, go on cruises, or enjoy a day at Disneyland or watch a sporting event? Of course we will – but the current crisis should be a wake up call for your business. Because if people have the choice to do something online instead of in person, and they can get the same quality, they will take the path of least resistance. You need to provide that to them. Having a strong online business is no longer optional.

Join me this Thursday, March 19th at noon Mountain Time (11 Pacific, 1pm Central, 2pm Eastern) for a free webinar on “How to Virus-Proof Your Business”. Register Here. If you are thinking about starting an online business, you need to watch this webinar. If you have a website but aren’t getting a significant portion of your business online, you need to watch this webinar. If you already have a successful website but want to learn how to maintain it yourself, you need to watch this webinar.