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Don’t Get Sick Going Viral

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Photo credit: oatawa - stock.adobe.com

For a small business owner or founder, few things are as exciting as your product or service going viral. Finally, after all your hard work, someone is listening! Not just one person, but thousands or even tens of thousands.

No one knows the exact formula for something going viral. A message might touch the funny bone, or people might just “get” what you are saying and understand you. It might be that you just happened to hit on a topical idea or thought that resonated with your target audience.

However, going viral can make your business “sick” if you’re not careful. In some cases, it could even be fatal.

What Makes Viral Brands Sick?

Brands can’t necessarily predict when their brand, products or services will go viral. If it was that easy, everyone would do it. Unlike the holiday rush or a planned sale event, going viral can be instantaneous and put all sorts of pressure on a business.

The potential physical pressures are probably well known, whether that be getting extra supplies, scheduling your staff, or having enough cash flow to fund the increase in demand. The intangible pressures related to online selling and ecommerce are less obvious. This could include slow or crashing websites and pages, as well as plug-ins and software-as-a-service (SaaS) systems failing due to too much traffic and load.

Typically, customers have strong reactions to good or bad customer service and are loyal when they get a great service experience. Research shows that 51% of consumers agree that an online shopping experience can negatively impact loyalty. They won’t wait for slow webpage uploads or stick with companies that do not provide personalized services. Additionally, for retailers and brands, keeping customers is less expensive and more profitable than constantly acquiring new ones. Being able to provide a consistently positive customer experience is always crucial for retailers, especially in the event of a viral moment where service may not be what their customers usually expect.

There are all sorts of weaknesses that excess demand can expose in a business and lead to high-pressure situations during a viral moment. Not having the proper set up or resources to handle high volumes of orders or inbound call volumes can result in a loss of orders and the inability to service customer enquiries. Businesses can also hit roadblocks on the warehouse or inventory management front in the event processes aren’t scalable, or a company relies too heavily on other small businesses to provide part of its product or service.

Historically, many small businesses did not have the right resources and have had to deploy multiple SaaS systems to “build” their ecommerce platform. However, using multiple systems introduces multiple risks of failure, loss of data or both. They also put additional loads on staff who have to log in to several systems to find data and manage information flow. Due to development costs, single bespoke systems that enable all functions have been out of reach of SMBs — until now.

With the emerging trend of “customer commerce,” technology is finally catching up with the idea of a single platform that does it all. These developments bring a single platform within the budget reach of SMBs and allow them to scale their e-commerce system without the inherent risks of multiple platforms and plug-ins.

How Can Businesses Prepare for Virality?

No amount of planning can forecast when a product or service may go viral, but businesses can remove many of the online risks by moving to single-platform solutions for online commerce. As for the physical issues, having well-thought-out scenarios for what steps to take if there is a sudden increase in demand can buy time to handle both the exciting and scary moments when they do happen.

There are a variety of ways businesses can develop procedures to handle the physical setbacks of going viral. This includes putting backup warehouse and logistics solutions in place and building key relationships with suppliers. Having alternative suppliers of key ingredients, suppliers who have additional capacity to quickly respond or agreements with suppliers to hold emergency stock can make or break businesses in time of need.

Staff relationships are also crucial to maintaining smooth business operations in the event of a viral moment. Prearranged agreements for overtime incentives with staff and arrangements local contract workforce suppliers or inbound call companies who can provide casual staff at short notice can be helpful components of a triage system in handling customer enquiries.

Small business owners are, understandably, stretched for time, money and resources. However, there are ways to plan for possible demand spikes, or at least be ready to take advantage of more demand than usual with no plans in place.

If and when you find that perfect message that explodes and carries your brand to the world (no cat videos please), you won’t get sick going viral.

Don’t Get Sick Going Viral

by | Feb 26, 2024

SBX Byline (2)

For a small business owner or founder, few things are as exciting as your product or service going viral. Finally, after all your hard work, someone is listening! Not just one person, but thousands or even tens of thousands.

No one knows the exact formula for something going viral. A message might touch the funny bone, or people might just “get” what you are saying and understand you. It might be that you just happened to hit on a topical idea or thought that resonated with your target audience.

However, going viral can make your business “sick” if you’re not careful. In some cases, it could even be fatal.

What Makes Viral Brands Sick?

Brands can’t necessarily predict when their brand, products or services will go viral. If it was that easy, everyone would do it. Unlike the holiday rush or a planned sale event, going viral can be instantaneous and put all sorts of pressure on a business.

The potential physical pressures are probably well known, whether that be getting extra supplies, scheduling your staff, or having enough cash flow to fund the increase in demand. The intangible pressures related to online selling and ecommerce are less obvious. This could include slow or crashing websites and pages, as well as plug-ins and software-as-a-service (SaaS) systems failing due to too much traffic and load.

Typically, customers have strong reactions to good or bad customer service and are loyal when they get a great service experience. Research shows that 51% of consumers agree that an online shopping experience can negatively impact loyalty. They won’t wait for slow webpage uploads or stick with companies that do not provide personalized services. Additionally, for retailers and brands, keeping customers is less expensive and more profitable than constantly acquiring new ones. Being able to provide a consistently positive customer experience is always crucial for retailers, especially in the event of a viral moment where service may not be what their customers usually expect.

There are all sorts of weaknesses that excess demand can expose in a business and lead to high-pressure situations during a viral moment. Not having the proper set up or resources to handle high volumes of orders or inbound call volumes can result in a loss of orders and the inability to service customer enquiries. Businesses can also hit roadblocks on the warehouse or inventory management front in the event processes aren’t scalable, or a company relies too heavily on other small businesses to provide part of its product or service.

Historically, many small businesses did not have the right resources and have had to deploy multiple SaaS systems to “build” their ecommerce platform. However, using multiple systems introduces multiple risks of failure, loss of data or both. They also put additional loads on staff who have to log in to several systems to find data and manage information flow. Due to development costs, single bespoke systems that enable all functions have been out of reach of SMBs — until now.

With the emerging trend of “customer commerce,” technology is finally catching up with the idea of a single platform that does it all. These developments bring a single platform within the budget reach of SMBs and allow them to scale their e-commerce system without the inherent risks of multiple platforms and plug-ins.

How Can Businesses Prepare for Virality?

No amount of planning can forecast when a product or service may go viral, but businesses can remove many of the online risks by moving to single-platform solutions for online commerce. As for the physical issues, having well-thought-out scenarios for what steps to take if there is a sudden increase in demand can buy time to handle both the exciting and scary moments when they do happen.

There are a variety of ways businesses can develop procedures to handle the physical setbacks of going viral. This includes putting backup warehouse and logistics solutions in place and building key relationships with suppliers. Having alternative suppliers of key ingredients, suppliers who have additional capacity to quickly respond or agreements with suppliers to hold emergency stock can make or break businesses in time of need.

Staff relationships are also crucial to maintaining smooth business operations in the event of a viral moment. Prearranged agreements for overtime incentives with staff and arrangements local contract workforce suppliers or inbound call companies who can provide casual staff at short notice can be helpful components of a triage system in handling customer enquiries.

Small business owners are, understandably, stretched for time, money and resources. However, there are ways to plan for possible demand spikes, or at least be ready to take advantage of more demand than usual with no plans in place.

If and when you find that perfect message that explodes and carries your brand to the world (no cat videos please), you won’t get sick going viral.