Why videos and tips on the website can give a business a boost – opinion

A business expert from Lahav, a Bank Hapoalim branch manager and two owners of businesses that operate e-tail websites explain how to cope with the financial crisis – and even emerge from it stronger

Bank Hapoalim (photo credit: AVIV GOTTLIEB)
Bank Hapoalim
(photo credit: AVIV GOTTLIEB)
Nir Tubi
Aiming for the Site to Surpass the Store
“My father, Avi Tubi, opened a toy store in Holon almost 21 years ago, and a few years ago I set off and opened a store of my own in Rishon Lezion. Before the coronavirus arrived, the business was growing and doing very well. I had even expanded it to three stores within the same complex selling toys, board games, balloons, writing implements, arts & crafts supplies, products for kindergartens and more. We suffered the first major blow at Purim, which is usually our strongest time of the year, during which I take on extra staff. I work with producers and designers, and this year there were no orders at all. Sales of costumes for adults plummeted too, and I was left with a huge amount of merchandise that is still in the warehouse, waiting for next year.
“I set up our e-tail website as soon as the doors closed for the first lockdown. In the beginning I tried taking pictures of the merchandise our customers wanted and then driving it to their houses in my private car. When that stopped being possible, I purchased a laptop computer and hired the services of a good digital services company. When the website went live, there were not many products available, but we added more and more products every day, along with photos and discounts, sometimes for no reason other than to stay on top of the wave. I would emphasize that I didn’t wait for grants and financial packages from the government. I submitted the request only in June, long after everyone else, because I wanted to try and stand on my own two feet first.
“The whole world is moving towards online sales, and e-tailing accounts for a decent percentage of my income. It requires daily upkeep, but in the end it pays off. I also started to work with a delivery company, and that has been running really smoothly so far. I’m aiming to reach a level where the website is matching the turnover generated by the store and even surpassing it, and we’re on our way to that good place at the moment.”
The writer is the owner and manager of “Tubi Toys and Balloons”
Rothschild 114, Rishon LeZion, toystubi.co.il, tel: 077-5356001
Baruch Shkalim
People Are Less Wary About Purchasing Online
“I was born into a family with a long history in the carpet sector. My father, Rachamim, had a store in Romano House in Tel Aviv, my brother is Yosef ‘The Carpet King’, and my uncle is Peretz Shkalim—all of them well-known in the industry. I set up “Carpet in the Center” with my wife Efrat 26 years ago, and we operate carpeting departments in various stores, including Ace, and our showroom and warehouses are in Kfar Saba. We work with a lot of websites in Israel, including Shufersal, Azrieli, Big Deal and Groupon. My son, Nir, had the idea to set up our e-tail website back in 2015, and he also runs it. In my opinion it’s the best carpet sales website in Israel.
“Before the coronavirus, we had 50 employees. Today we are down to 25, because we were forced to close some of our departments within retail stores. But it’s not just about the coronavirus. In recent years, there has been a downward trend for in-store sales and an upward one in online sales, and the coronavirus has accelerated the process. People are less and less hesitant about purchasing directly from websites and are discovering that it’s more convenient. Before the crisis, online shopping accounted for 20% of our turnover, today that is up to 40%.
“During the first lockdown, we left a skeleton staff in the warehouses to deal with deliveries and took on the services of a courier company to make deliveries around the country. At the same time, we increased our advertising budget for the website by 50%, because that’s the direction things are going. The scale of the e-tail industry will continue to develop far beyond what people realize at this point. It’s the future. But it’s not enough to set up an e-tail website without continuous investment in promoting it, because with the Internet, anyone who doesn’t invest disappears very quickly. We also offer home accessories through our website, because since the first lockdown a lot of people have been renovating their houses and gardens. And it has paid off, this area currently represents 30% of all our online sales.”
The writer is one of the owners and managers of the website buycarpet.co.il
Apollonia Rd 3, Kfar Saba. Tel: 050-5348589
Nir Shafir
Present Yourselves Professionally
“The digital space is an ocean of red. All of the big sharks swim in it and they can smell the blood of the little fish, which means it is up to the little fish to be shrewd. Many studies indicate a close correlation between professionalism and increased sales, and so these businesses have to present themselves in the most professional light possible.
One of the ways is to upload videos with useful information. For example, a building supplies store could upload videos to the Internet demonstrating how to seal holes in the wall, providing the store’s contact details within the video. Another example might be a hairdresser—if they sell hair dye, they could upload a video explaining the correct way to dye your hair. Regular content and tips give businesses a boost and set the owner apart as an expert in their field, thereby attracting many new customers.”
The writer is a business and management consultant
Orit Grant
Digital Access to New Audiences
“It’s not easy to be a small business owner and having to cope with the obstacles and difficulties of a dynamic business environment, especially in these challenging times. These businesses have to reinvent themselves and be open to change in line with market trends and consumer demands. One of the most important steps is expanding online sales capacity. Achieving a high market share via the various platforms requires proper allocation of resources—with a successful infrastructure and sufficient supply of products that meet the needs of the customers. Putting these measures in place will directly result in increased income. These days, if you don’t have a visible online presence, you don’t exist in relation to your competitors. Availability, efficiency and transparency with your clients is what will increase business sales and allow you to reach out to new audiences, especially in times when we are less inclined to leave the house. Make the most of the period when businesses are closed to take online courses and learn how to promote your business online. I invite everyone to visit the website of the Center for Financial Growth by Bank Hapoalim, which offers a range of digital courses for business owners covering different subjects at no cost.”
The writer is the manager of the Ra’anana branch of Bank Hapoalim