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How Designer and Artisan Brands Are Weathering the Coronavirus Pandemic

by Arianne Foulks

April 6, 2020

We sent a survey out to our subscribers last week, March 25th, 2020, to see how the COVID-19 crisis was affecting their businesses, find out what they were going to do next, and see how we could help. I have results to share, and I hope they help you see how the pandemic is affecting small creative businesses like yours.

141 people filled out the survey. Do you want to see what they said?

What Channels Our Respondents Use to Sell Products

How do you ordinarily sell your products

I asked, how do you ordinarily sell your products? Most people sell in more than one way, and these were most popular:

  • 84.4% of respondents sell online on their own websites
  • 47.6% sell wholesale to other shops
  • 40.8% sell online at a marketplace such as Amazon or Etsy
  • 38.8% sell in person at markets, fairs, or events
  • 17% sell in their own brick and mortar store
  • 13.6% sell online directly from social media

How In-Person Sales Have Changed

Changes to in-person sales due to COVID-19

Changes to in-person purchases were huge last week. 43% of people said that in person purchases had stopped completely. 39% of people don’t sell products in person, so weren’t experiencing a change.

How Online Purchasing Has Changed

How online purchases ecommerce has changed due to Coronavirus

In asking about online purchases, we started to see a big difference between experiences.

  • Only 20.4% of people said online purchases had stopped.
  • 32% saw online purchases go down a lot
  • 13.6% said online purchases were down a bit
  • 8.2% are seeing online purchases remain the same as before
  • 12.9% have seen online purchases go up somewhat
  • 4.8% of people said their online purchases have increased a lot

How the Coronavirus Pandemic is Affecting Online Shop Owners

We asked how the pandemic is affecting each business. We got a lot of write-ins, but among the most popular choices I asked about, these stood out:

  • 50.7% of people said wholesalers aren’t buying right now
  • 46.6% said important selling events have been canceled
  • 41.1% are struggling to work from home (with or without kids)
  • 21.2% aren’t able to manufacture or obtain products
  • 20.5% have had to decrease their staff
  • 17.1% have had to close retail locations
  • 8.9% aren’t able to ship their product to customers
  • 8.2%  can’t sell in person and don’t have ecommerce

Here are some of the write-in responses about how the pandemic is affecting businesses:

“challenge to find a marketing message for this current economic situation”

“feeling urgent time pressure to make new digital products available while they’re needed”

“Getting new fabric from wholesalers”

“wedding invitations are in flux as events are canceled, postponed, or simplified”

“No one is buying physical products for birthday parties, b/c parties are cancelled.”

“Not being able to do photo shoots”

“Confused as to whether is is safe to ship.”

How this all feels

I got so many thoughtful and interesting write-in responses to the following questions that I put them together into a blog post, so we can share in this moment and see what problems people are facing and what they’re planning to do about them:

  • Is there anything that’s really surprised you about the pandemic in terms of business that you’d like to share?
  • Have you found any creative ways to adjust your business during the pandemic that you’d like to share?
  • Why do you believe in your business, and how will you thrive post-pandemic?

Read how people are feeling about this on our blog post, and please do add your experience in the comments or in our Facebook group if you weren’t able to fill out the survey last week.

Now for how we can help!

We are offering direct help for the top categories, and sharing resources and pointing you all in the right direction for others.

I had a brainstorm call with my team this Monday to figure out how we could help the most people, and we’re going to do a combo of webinars, small group video chats where we offer advice about your particular website or social media strategy, and we of course have blog posts to share.

The top things you wanted our help with right now:

  1. Search Engine Optimization (70.7% wanted this)
  2. Improving your Shopify site (49% – TIE)
  3. Social media strategy (49% – TIE)
  4. Email automations and marketing (44%)
  5. Stats analysis & guidance (41.5%)
  6. Brand strategy (35.4%)

We offer each of these things as paid services right now, and we have put together some free help, too. Get our free help, here, or hire us for new and limited time services that we’re offering to help you pivot or improve during this crisis.

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