The trend we’ve observed over the past three weeks is that traffic to bookstore websites is much higher than usual, but it is slowly dropping. We’ve also seen a slow drop in the e-commerce conversion rate during this same period. Some of this is due to states reopening for business, while some of this is due to an annual seasonal drop as weather improves and people go outside. Keep in mind that the conversion rates on bookstore websites are still extremely high. Bookstores should take advantage of this by encouraging customers to shop online; if their store now offers curbside or in-store pickup, they should heavily promote this as a safe shopping alternative.
Bookstores should not be conservative with their online marketing right now. Many stores are increasing the frequency of their email newsletters, email marketing, and social media marketing. With the elevated conversion rates we’ve been seeing, if bookstores can get customers into their website, there is a good chance they will convert to a sale.
Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) FAQ: As a reminder, ABA has created a frequently asked question sheet on the PPP loan forgiveness application. The article will be continuously updated with any new information. Even if you are not yet nearing the end of your eight-week period, look through the forgiveness information to ensure you are keeping the required records. Doing this now will make filling out the application later much easier. Read the FAQ here.
PPP bonuses and hazard pay update: The Small Business Administration (SBA) and Treasury Department issued an interim final rule on PPP loan forgiveness, stating that as long as an employee’s total compensation is less than $100,000 annually, bonuses and hazard pay are eligible for loan forgiveness because they are considered a supplement to salary or wages. The rule also clarifies that salary, wages, or commission payments to furloughed employees are eligible for forgiveness. Still, be wary of awarding atypical bonuses and hazard pay to be on the safe side. Speak to an accountant or your lender before making a decision.
$10 billion in PPP funds for CDFIs: Today, May 28, the SBA and Treasury announced they will set aside $10 billion of “round two” PPP funding exclusively for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) in an effort to reach the underserved communities CDFIs typically serve. Locate a CDFI near you.
MBAs Fight COVID-19: A new initiative, MBAs Fight COVID-19, is offering pro bono help to small businesses. Current MBA students are matched with businesses to provide help on a variety of projects (PPP, EIDL, cost cutting, etc.). Get help here.
We look forward to seeing you on June 11 at the virtual ABA Annual Meeting (2:00 p.m. ET) and Town Hall (3:00 p.m. ET). We want to hear from you! Please submit Town Hall questions and comments, or just introduce a topic you want us to address, ahead of time at firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions or comments can also be introduced during the meeting via the Q&A interface; however, because the meeting is being presented in webinar format, booksellers will not be able to speak. The event link and further details will be emailed to booksellers and publishers next week. The Publishers Weekly 2020 Bookstore of the Year Award ceremony for Porter Square Books will occur immediately following the town hall meeting!
Join us for a Marketing Meetup on Thursday, June 4, at 1:00 p.m. ET on “How to Make Friends and Influence Purchases: Digital Marketing’s Self-Help Guide to Customer Retention.” Registration is required.
Join us for a Technology Meetup on Thursday, June 11, at 1:00 p.m. ET, featuring bookseller Angela Trigg of Haunted Bookshop in Mobile, Alabama, who has created a chatbot through which customers can place orders. Registration is required.
Beginning in June, ABA’s Coffee Break meeting schedule is changing! Coffee Break meetings will be held via Zoom every Tuesday from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET and the last Thursday of each month at 6:00 p.m. ET. Join the Zoom calls here: the meeting ID is 850 6348 6159 and booksellers should check their email for a Coffee Break Reminder containing the password.
Indies Introduce! Thursday, June 4! Free! Booksellers can register now for the Zoom event featuring the upcoming season’s top adult debut titles, chosen by a panel of independent booksellers. It’s an exciting list of books and an opportunity for the indies to pave the way for a bestseller! (Children’s books will be presented during the virtual Children’s Institute program, to be held July 15–16.)
#SupportSmall Grants program! FedEx has launched a grant program to support 200 small businesses due to the crisis. I know 200 isn’t very many, but why not you? Each grantee will receive a $5,000 check and a $500 credit for FedEx Office print and business services.
Check out Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s new offer for classroom books — an extra 5% discount on B2B orders for HMH’s 135 most commonly used classroom books. This is a great opportunity for stores to reach out to schools and teachers who need to use their budgets before the end of the school year, or who might be preparing summer reading for students. See the Book Buyer’s Handbook for more details.
In our scan of interesting information about the future, we found this interesting article in Forbes.
ABA is here for all of you. Please reach out if there is anything we can help with. We are an incredibly creative, resilient, supportive industry. We’ll get through this, together. Best, Allison