Many Dutch businesses have been severely affected by the pandemic, with 55,000 businesses filing for bankruptcy in March and April 2020 alone. One of the few that managed to avoid financial collapse was the online marketer and publisher E-commerce Nijmegen. From its humble beginnings as a regional online marketplace where residents of the Netherlands could buy and sell second-hand goods, the company grew rapidly in the aftermath of the pandemic, and is now among the biggest digital marketers in the country. Here, we’ll explore the steps the company took to succeed in the face of the pandemic, and the advantages they gained as a direct result.
Grow From Scratch
Traditionally, new businesses in the Netherlands had to navigate the lengthy process of securing a certificate of incorporation – a legal document which confers basic shareholder status and permits business activities such as hiring employees, selling goods to customers, and pursuing legal cases. A 2019 report from the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (NEA) revealed that only 37% of new businesses could secure this key legal document during the previous fiscal year.
E-commerce Nijmegen decided to forgo the rigmarole of securing a registration certificate, and instead opted to start up as a Limited Liability Company (LLC) – a Dutch legal entity similar to a corporation, with the main difference being that the shareholders of an LLC are personally liable for the debts of the company. Because of this liability, entrepreneurs can rest assured that the financial security of their businesses is protected, and that they won’t be forced into bankruptcy if their companies go belly up.
Adapt To The Times
The pandemic presented E-commerce Nijmegen with its greatest challenge to date, and it needed to quickly adapt to the times to ensure that it continued to thrive.
From a staff of six in March 2020, the company grew to a team of 25 within a matter of weeks. They had to quickly scale up, moving from a series of freelance contractors to a full-time staff, and establishing emergency working practices in order to cope with the increased demand. But beyond the sheer numbers, they had to adapt their processes and technology, too – moving from traditional SEO to more modern approaches, such as content strategy and marketing automation.
Take Advantage Of Web Technologies
While the world was captivated by the rapidly-moving SARS-CoV-2 virus, the healthcare, travel and tourism, and retail industries were struggling to figure out how to operate online. The number of individuals affected by the virus in the Netherlands doubled in the space of a few weeks, and many traditional brick-and-mortar businesses shut down – leaving a gap in the market that E-commerce Nijmegen was more than happy to fill.
The agency quickly pivoted to become one of the largest online marketplaces for physical shopping in the country, linking buyers with retailers, gathering all the necessary approvals and registrations from various administrations, and handling the shipping and payment services for online traders. But even before this, the company had started working with web designers and tech specialists to ensure that their online presence was as sophisticated and functional as possible.
Be Proactive In Crisis Management
Another critical element to E-commerce Nijmegen’s successful survival strategy was keeping a watchful eye on the government, and using their privileged position as an online marketplace to help businesses in need.
The agency was granted a license by the Dutch National Bank to provide short-term loans to businesses affected by the pandemic, and in turn became a go-to resource for entrepreneurs seeking funding for their businesses. Using this loan facility, the company was able to offer credit scores as a selling point to attract smaller businesses seeking working capital, and also took on a number of large debt restructures, enabling them to continue operating during the pandemic.
The Cost Of Failure
If one of your goals in business is to make money, it’s essential to establish yourself as a reputable and dependable entity. The cost of failing to do so can be high – ranging from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of Euros. But if your goal is to provide excellent customer service and build a long-term business, you can significantly reduce the risk factors involved by taking the time to establish your credibility.
Even before the pandemic, E-commerce Nijmegen had invested heavily in establishing itself as a business to watch – both with an eye on the future, and with extensive research into the various credit evaluation models, buyer personas, and market segments.
This investment paid off. Even with the extra pressures of the pandemic, the company was still able to grow its revenue by 24% in 2020, and is expected to grow further as the economy tries to rebuild.
These are some of the critical steps you need to take if you want to succeed in business. The pandemic may have changed the game, but you can still play it smart.