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How European Entrepreneurs Can Make the Most of the Quarantine Period Europe has been sealed off, but there is still much to be achieved.

By Simon Moser

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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The last month or so has been a concerning time for many businesses and individuals, as the recently declared coronavirus pandemic sent the world into a frenzy, and forced governments to instigate strict policies to control how businesses operate and how people go about their daily lives.

Although the enforced lockdowns seen across the globe have ravaged many traditional businesses and forced airlines, restaurants, and most retail businesses to shutter, other organizations have embraced the change and began fundamentally rethinking the way they do business. The recent coronavirus pandemic has forced companies to embrace online communication and step up their internet presence, while employees around the world now need to learn new skills to successfully manage their workload from home.

As such, it is important that firms do what they can now to leverage this opportunity to establish themselves online and take a pragmatic approach to ensure their long-term viability.

E-commerce is booming.

As one might expect, the online goods and services industry has spiked dramatically in recent weeks, as an increasing number of retailers begin offering their products online, while the number of online orders has also skyrocketed.

According to a recent report by Ecommerce Europe, grocery and consumer electronics retailers have seen a significant uptick in profitability as a result of the pandemic. Likewise, a March 16 report by German E-commerce security provider Händlerbund indicates that around 90 percent of online retailers are neither anxious nor panicked about the situation, while SendCloud, an online shipping tool, has found a 26 percent uptick in packages in the last week.

Overall, the pandemic has caused a dramatic uptick in online activity of all sorts, leading to a significant increase in online sales in many niches, interaction with online brands and search activity -- much of which is a direct result of a shift to remote working seen by most major businesses.

Unfortunately, many businesses opt to simply pause operations until after the lockdown or pandemic, due to a lack of knowledge or a perceived lack of resources to build and market their online business -- seemingly unaware that a huge range of tools now exist that simplify the transition.

Instead, businesses should seize the opportunity and cautiously make their first steps online, leveraging the dozens of tools, platforms and services available that help do so, rather than attempting to build their platform from scratch and suffer the opportunity cost that the delay could create.

Keep an eye on affiliate marketing.

Those already operating an affiliate marketing strategy will likely have already seen a strong improvement in both conversion rate and gross revenue as the work from home movement gains momentum. However, due to budget cutbacks and other restraints, several niches and verticals may have seen a significant drop in organic traffic and CPC, which can lead to reduced revenue.

According to data collected by Voluum, just over half of online businesses have seen their return on ad spend (ROAS) decrease in recent weeks, whereas around 30% have seen their ROAS increase as a result of the coronavirus situation. The difference between successful and affiliate marketing and a low performance strategy usually boils down to budget management and targeting the right search trends.

One of the simplest ways to achieve this is with the use of an automated reseller and affiliate marketing solution like Digistore24, the largest of such platforms in German-speaking countries while also rapidly growing in the U.S. market since 2019. Through the use of automatic affiliate marketing solutions, it's possible to cut back advertising spends and leave the marketing of products and services to the experts in each niche.

"Although we are all still reeling from the recent coronavirus outbreak, it is crucial for the survival of our businesses to adjust to the changing economic situation, which means going digital, providing real value to the consumers and ensuring excellent customer experiences," says Sven Platte, the founder and CEO of Digistore24.

Using platforms that cut out the complexity of bureaucratic necessity such as invoicing, taxation and affiliate marketing, and leaving the hard part to the experts, enables retailers and businesses of all sizes to quickly ramp up their online marketing efforts and benefit from the changing online landscape. This is particularly important for food, healthcare, media, entertainment and pharmaceutical companies since these sectors are likely to explode in traffic and conversions in the coming weeks and months.

An excellent time for e-learning.

Although it is possible to succeed in the rapidly changing world of e-commerce by sticking to tried-and-tested marketing formulas, this isn't always possible, since some niches undergo dramatic changes in search trends and buyer demographics on a regular basis. Because of this, it's sometimes a good idea to kick the old ways of doing things to the curb and switch up the marketing strategy with fresh ideas.

Fortunately, the last several years have seen an extraordinary proliferation of online e-learning and content sharing platforms, allowing anybody stuck at home to learn practically anything without little to no hassle. These e-learning platforms represent an excellent way for employers and employees to get on top of their changing circumstances and adapt to any challenges that might lie ahead.

This is exactly the philosophy articulated by Platte, who recently launched OneClickBusiness with the goal of providing a simple outlet to create and sell online courses through its connection with the Digistore24 market-leading automation platform.

"While many specialists had to put their professional life on hold or even lost their jobs, they still have valuable knowledge that is in high demand now. By transferring it into digital products such as webinars, e-books, online courses, these experts have the chance to make their know-how available to thousands of people," he says.

For employers with employees still on the payroll while under lockdown or working from home, e-learning courses could represent a cheap and effective way to bolster the skills of the workforce, making remote working more productive and easing the transition to online business where necessary.

This, in combination with careful marketing and a practical approach to a bad situation, can help companies weather the next few months and emerge stronger than before, having penetrated new markets and grown in resilience.

Simon Moser

Founder of Polygrowth

Simon Moser is a European communications specialist and entrepreneur. He is particularly focused on new markets, such as high-tech, fintech and cannabis. In 2018 Simon co-founded Strain Insider, which has since become the leading online media outlet in the European cannabis market.
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