Joe Trimble: Tips to review your post-pandemic small business online vs brick and mortar strategy

Throughout the pandemic, small businesses in Truckee were challenged to create or improve their digital offerings as social distancing and lockdowns limited in-person operations.

Research from Adobe Analytics showed that shoppers spent 43% more online in September 2020 than September 2019, highlighting the importance of optimizing the ability to communicate and transact with customers digitally.

Now as vaccinations continue, many Truckee entrepreneurs are facing a new challenge: the balance between maintaining or growing their online operations and resuming in-person sales in brick and mortar locations. Here are three key questions business owners can ask themselves as they navigate their new normal in a post-pandemic world:

What is sustainable?

While having a digital presence was crucial for many small businesses during the pandemic, Truckee business owners should now take the time to analyze the profitability and sustainability of a largely (or entirely) digital model.

For instance, a furniture retailer might have found success in 2020 selling online with no storefront. However, in order to maintain that model as stores reopen, they may need to consider investing in new digital features that allow potential customers to “view” the furniture in their space to make up for the lack of a showroom. Is that investment worthwhile or has online traffic dwindled as shoppers return to physical stores? Questions like these can help determine to what extent digital capabilities need to be emphasized.

Is in-person a dying model?

While the pandemic made in-person transactions much more difficult (and in some cases impossible), they still comprise a large share of sales. U.S. Census Bureau’s data from Q2 2020 showed that 84 percent of transactions took place in person, compared with 16 percent online. While these numbers may have continued to shift over the course of the pandemic, they still indicate that many businesses should not neglect traditional in-person operations.

How do I adapt?

As with any effective business strategy, a key element to balancing in-person and online models is knowing your customers and appropriate planning. It can be helpful to consider how to leverage systems created during the pandemic for the long-term and incorporate the costs of maintaining active digital capabilities into the budgeting process.

Steps like these can help Truckee business owners strategically set themselves up for success in both physical and online marketplaces.

More tips to help small businesses thrive can be found online at

Joe Trimble is the Wells Fargo Small Business Leader in Truckee

Joe Trimble

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