How can the software and payments industries help during COVID-19?

How can the software and payments industries help during COVID-19?
March 19, 2020 Adam Stead
~ read | In About StoreKit
covid-19 storekit

We know that a lot of you are contemplating some tough decisions around your business and coronavirus. Those decisions will require that you assess your costs, and weigh them against your guess at the duration of this crisis. 

We want to help you reduce your costs, and so do our partners. 

Below, we’ve done our best to list the ways that the different software and payments brands available through StoreKit are attempting to reduce the burden of their costs to struggling merchants. We’ve also included a reminder of some of the tax relief and small business loans which have been offered to help businesses in the UK.

What’s being made available to help me reduce costs?

Partners

Revel Systems have created the Revel Relief Programme, which will make up to $1 million available for businesses to cover their costs due to coronavirus. 

If you’re a shop, Lightspeed is offering 3 months of Lightspeed e-commerce for free.

If you’re a restaurant, Lightspeed is offering 3 months of Deliverect use for free. (Deliverect glues your takeaway delivery platform with your POS – check out our blog – but are a good place to start if you’re thinking about deliveries.) 

Vend is offering 3 free months of BigCommerce and Marsello, which are both e-commerce brands. They’re also offering free onboarding and product set-up. 

We’re awaiting announcements from several other companies, which we’ll add to this blog when they have confirmed the details ready for release. 

StoreKit 

StoreKit continues to be open. Our multi-distributor approach means that we’re well-placed to continue to meet orders as they come in. 

Our over-the-phone consultations are free. Our expertise pertains to technology stacks, payments for all stores, and restaurant operations. So if you need advice in a pinch, don’t hesitate to call – even if the advice you want is not how to buy something but on tough questions about your business. The best number for this isn’t our main one – if you want business advice that goes deeper than POS systems, try 020 3318 2745 for our hospitality veterans. 

 

United Kingdom small business loans and relief 

The Government has announced:

1. Business Interruption Loan

If you have employees who are off sick due to the coronavirus (and you have less than 250 employees) you’re eligible to claim £3K per sick employee. Details here

2. Rates Relief 

There will be no business rates for the year 2020-2021 for England & Wales. Details here. For Scotland, there will be a 75% rates relief. Details here.

3. Grant Funding 

The grant that’s available to you depends on your size as a business, but can range from £3,000 to £25,000 for larger businesses. Details here. Scotland details here

4. Tax help planned 

The government has allocated additional resources to handle calls from businesses unable to pay their tax. If you run a business or are self-employed and are concerned about paying your tax due to coronavirus, you can call HMRC’s helpline for help and advice: 0800 0159 559. The helpline is open from M-F, 8-8 and Saturday 8-4pm.

 

How to continue making money

We’re shortly going to publish a blog by our resident ex-operator about how he would have handled a crisis like this; and the order of decision-making. But if you’re in need of cash, here are some ways you can make money:

Takeaway & E-commerce

If you have a question about e-commerce or delivery and how to get it all working, we’re making our team available – call StoreKit and ask for Angus or Ivo. This isn’t a sales call – we’re happy to advise you on what you need to do to move from a totally in-store set up to getting things working online. 

Check out our guide to ghost kitchens if you have found that your restaurant has suddenly become an overnight ghost kitchen. In addition, find our article on POS for takeaway and our advice on which delivery platform is best for merchants

Here’s an additional great article about whether it’s safe and ethical to deliver food during the current quarantine. 

At the minute, delivery has boomed as a result of the crisis. For example, Amazon is currently hiring 100 000 more workers to keep up with the surge in demand. Read our advice on marketing & e-commerce in POS. Again, we’re able to advise about the technology stack here. 

We’re a delivery retail business ourselves, so, believe us when we say we know about delivery in retail. We’re also listening carefully to the evolving government advice on what to do about COVID-19.

 

Vouchers

If you serve customers with disposable income, many will be inclined to support you during the recession by buying vouchers which can be redeemed after the quarantine. It’s often possible to generate vouchers automatically within a POS app.

Here’s an example of this done really well by Bleeker burger, and this can be made within Shopify. This is possible to generate within most e-commerce software.

 

Streaming 

It could be possible to use your existing competencies as a business to see yourself through the immediate quarantine. For example, some of the new fitness studios in major cities are running online “video workouts”. In the most lo-fi example, you could ask customers to send money via a peer-to-peer platform such as PayPal or Venmo before providing a streamed service. 

If you’re a restaurant, could it be time to teach your regulars how to cook? 

 

Tip Jar 

Tip Jar is not for restaurants – it’s for restaurant service workers, many of whom have been told this week that they no longer have a job. It’s a fund to support them. To make a general donation, go to wearetipjar.com/emergency-fund. 

 

When will businesses return to normal? 

It’s important to understand that it’s a different question to: “when will we be able to vaccinate against the virus?” Or, “when will isolation measures begin to relax?”. Whatever the timeline for the immediate end to quarantine, there will be a recession as a result of the quarantine. 

This is not a great outlook. But, we continue to be impressed by the resourcefulness and determination of our sector to adapt.  

Here’s the relevant information: 

A) At present, data from OpenTable shows that restaurant bookings are falling by over 40% at the time this has been written.

B) A vaccine is likely to take eighteen months. Some of this period is the mandatory human trial process to ensure the vaccine is safe. That would take us to September 2021.

C) Imperial College London has produced a paper which models the expected progression of the virus in the UK and US. On page 10, you can find a graph which shows the expected duration of the virus when ‘case isolation, household quarantine and general social distancing’ are followed as policy. There, the duration of the pandemic is until February 2021. The end of the pandemic will be the result of a substantial proportion of the population acquiring “herd immunity”.

D) China is beginning to look at some relaxations of quarantine as they appear to have slowed the spread of the virus.

E) There could be an Italian style lockdown operational in the UK shortly, which would instruct bars and restaurants to close. 

We’re not epidemiological experts and we do not know how long this will last. However, one thing is clear: this will have ramifications beyond the immediate duration of the quarantine. It is essential to the success of your business going forward that you find a way to make some money remotely. 

 

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How can the software and payments industries help during COVID-19?
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