How to successfully launch an online retail business during a pandemic

: December 24, 2020

We recently held the second Small Business School Challenge, featuring teams from some of the top MBA programs in the United States (NYU, Georgetown, Yale, and more) to answer this question.

The retail businesses who participated came to the table with the challenges they’re facing, especially during the economic difficulties caused by COVID-19. They were paired up with an MBA team to brainstorm solutions and come up with a plan to alleviate their biggest pain point.

Over 48 hours, the small businesses and MBA candidates worked side by side… virtually, of course.

The teams collaborated via video to find clarity and create a path to greater sustainability and success. Thanks to the studies of the MBA students, small business owners received cutting-edge, data-driven insights to help them make decisions going forward.

1 key suggestion from the MBA teams: launching an online retail business profitable by leveraging insights, partnerships, and creative revenue models.

How to launch a new online retail business

The retail business case study

Fine Color Jewels, an online jewelry retailer, launched during the COVID-19 pandemic. They wanted help to stay profitable during this tough time and build toward the goal of outside investors.

The solution

Fine Color Jewels worked with MBA students from the University of Washington’s Bothell School of Business. The MBAs devised that Fine Color Jewels can stay profitable by:

  • Using advanced analytics to develop targeted insights into key market segments: These insights should provide the foundation for sustaining the business post-launch.
  • Acquiring brand partnerships and sponsorships to extend the reach and exposure of the company: This should generate potential leads, setting the foundation for viral growth.
  • Using a jewelry box subscription service to have a consistent revenue stream from a loyal base of brand ambassadors: This will ensure a solid core of customers to support the company through its initial few years.

The MBA takeaways for your business

Leverage influencers and partnerships with larger brands to expand awareness of your company, especially on social media where so much commerce now happens.

Make use of data analytics to find your true audience, so you’re not wasting time selling to the wrong market.

If you’re selling goods, try a subscription service for more regular revenue.

MBA advice for your retail business

The Small Business School Challenge brought together great minds from both worlds, both business owners and future entrepreneurs. Their combined knowledge and experiences produced a wealth of advice for any small business. 

If you’re interested in this meeting of the minds, add your contact details on our ‘I’m Interested’ form to recieve the announcement of the next challenge.

Until then, stay tuned for more takeaways and tips in this series from our MBA teams that can help your small business.