Using QR Codes in Your Shop or Local Business

It's definitely clear that QR codes are becoming more and more useful, but what are they? And how could they help you in your shop or local business?

As the new normal of living alongside Coronavirus has set in; businesses across the country are opening up and adapting to new ways of working safely.

If you have a small shop, restaurant or cafe in England; you’ll more than likely have had to overcome certain hurdles such as limiting people on your premises, providing space for social distancing, and limiting contact between staff and customers.

Whilst you may have got round all of these challenges, there might be a few more things you can do to help limit the spread of Coronavirus in your community. We’ve found that the use of QR codes in local business have been a really useful way of providing information and reducing unnecessary contact with customers.

What are QR Codes?

QR codes work in a similar way to barcodes on products. They are square, machine-readable codes that can be picked up by a smartphone. Once read by the smartphone, the QR code can instantly lead to a specific page on a website, a brochure, an image or an app.

QR codes were originally designed in Japan, where they have always been much more prevalent. But now that it is key to reduce person to person contact; QR codes are popping up in all types of businesses in the UK.

A few years ago, you needed to install a special reader app in order to get your phone to read QR codes. But now you just need to point your phone at the QR code when the camera is open and it’ll read it automatically.

Using QR Codes in Your Shop or Local Business

How to Use QR Codes

Over the last few months we’ve seen many different uses for QR codes. It’s definitely clear they’re becoming a great tool at providing information safely during this pandemic. The best thing is they’re free, customisable, and easy to make.

QR codes can be generated online, and can be colour and brand customisable. This means that whatever business you run, you can create perfect, on-brand QR codes that customers can use.

We’ve found some really great uses for QR codes over the last few weeks. Such as at restaurants to find menus, hotels to see welcome letters and coronavirus information. Also in a local pub, where they’d used a QR code for people to sign up to their track and trace. Beauty therapists can use them for their treatment list as well as making offers. And of course certain large supermarkets use a QR code for customers to pay with their scanning systems within the shops.

All of this helps to limit the amount of contact your staff needs to make with customers. It’s therefore a great way of adjusting to the new normal of shopping and eating out.

We’ve even helped some of our marketing clients with QR codes in their local shops and businesses. We can help them get set up so that they link to a specific page on their website if needed. So contact us if you need advice!

During this period of uncertainty, plenty of small businesses in our local communities have had to adapt to a new way of selling their products and services. Or perhaps even close up shop altogether. Many businesses will have turned to their online marketplace in order to keep selling their products and services. But even with the ability to sell online; it has still been tough on the smaller businesses that depend on their bricks and mortar location.

One of the great ways businesses around us have been able to stay in touch with their customers is through social media. Sites such as Facebook and Instagram have been incredibly useful in keeping your customers up-to-date. Whether you’re posting about opening hours, sharing products from your online shop, or posting updates on how the business is getting on; it’s a great way to stay in touch.

Facebook Shops – A Potential Game-Changer

Yesterday, Facebook announced a new feature to help small businesses to sell products online directly through their social media page. This could be a game-changer in the world of local business. From today, anyone with a Facebook or Instagram page can have an online E-Commerce offering for their customers.

Image from Facebook

“Facebook Shops aim to make shopping seamless and can empower anyone from a small business owner to a global brand to use our apps to connect with customers.”


What Facebook Shops allows you to do is to create an online shopping platform for your products that can be viewed within the Facebook App or website. This makes it easier than ever to promote your products to your followers on social media. It also makes it easy for customers to browse through your products, ultimately being able to purchase products and services from you.

During this uncertain time, this feature will be a great help to businesses struggling to move to an online marketplace. If you have a Facebook page, it will be simple to set up a shop and start selling to customers.

Integration with Ecommerce Websites

If you already have a website for selling your products, you might not think that Facebook Shops would help you to reach more people and increase your sales online. But according to Facebook, this new feature can import, and integrate items from Ecommerce systems such as WooCommerce, Shopify, and BigCommerce.

Facebook is also working with these Ecommerce sites to ensure Facebook Shops work hand-in-hand with an established online shop. This means you won’t have to spend time constantly updating the stock on two different platforms.

Having your products on Facebook also creates a new form of advertising. You can use Facebook Ads to promote a particular product, which then leads to a product page on Facebook. By doing this, you can create very specific targeted ads that advertise individual products or collections. You can then use this to advertise to niche audiences who will be more likely to buy certain products.

How can I get started?

If you already have a Facebook page, you can set up your shop straight away. We’re already working with some of our clients to make sure they’re up and running on Facebook Shops. We’ll be uncovering the full potential of these online shops in the coming weeks. We hope to soon understand exactly how much this will help the businesses we work with.

If you’d like to set up a Facebook Shop for your business, and you’re not sure where to start; get in touch with us, and we’ll be happy to help you get started.

Well we are all starting to realise, very quickly how this is going to affect us. At our offices, we felt safe in the presumption that we could all work very comfortably from home. All systems we currently use can be successfully actioned remotely. Which is perfect for our online work. Nothing should change for us right? WRONG!

What we have come to understand very quickly that, working with so many other external companies means that their businesses have been dreadfully affected, which then has an impact on ours. We are still here though, all working. We are available so you can get in touch to make changes to your website, write a post explaining what is happening for your business, as well as modifying the way you are working. To adapt to the changing market conditions.

There are many ways to still communicate. As many companies are now finding out. Using Slack, Facetime, Whats App, Zoom, Skype, Podio, Google Docs, plus many many other online applications means that you are still in contact with all your fellow staff. As well as ensuring you are all working on the same information. The options are endless, so it is important to put in place what works for you as a business. Which is great! But all businesses need to know they can still get customers, either into their shops, physically or online. To be able to buy from them, enjoy their services as well as staying safe and keeping their loved ones safe too.

There are so many useful articles at the moment, so we thought we would share a few ideas that may help:

Get your cashflow sorted

Call in some debts and ensure everything possible has been invoiced. It will be tough for any business to pay promptly at the moment, but try and ensure you have everything up to date, so you know where you are.

Keep marketing and promoting your business

Now more than ever, you need to keep reminding people you are still here. In general, people still need products and services. And those who are marketing their business more effectively will come out on top. Especially once everything is gradually getting back to normal. Changing your marketing message may be worthwhile. But keep reminding people that you are still here and still open for business. Many of our customers are now adapting what they offer, to keep going and get through this. Move online more, offer something different, offer better delivery options. There may be some angle that you haven’t thought of. Brainstorm and see what ideas you can come up with!

Sourcing your products

Now may be the time to look around and see where else you can source your products from. Use local companies who won’t have to travel too far to get to you. Again, be creative. Many companies are offering delivery – take advantage of this so you can save time to work more on other things.

Move online

Shops will be one of the worst to be hit by all of this. So people will be buying more online – now could be the time for you to start offering this as an option. Even if you can’t afford to add an ecommerce solution to your website, make it prominent that you can offer this. Make sure you can show as many of your products on your website, so customers can see what they could have if they bought from you. This could be a great option for anyone who physically sells products but has not opted yet for online selling.

Plan for the future

Try and spend some time reflecting on what you want and how you see yourselves in 6 months. Where do you want to be? It is vital to plan ahead and work out how you are going to come through it. Try to keep a clear head and remove emotions from this. Hard and extraordinary times as these are, spend a bit of time writing or updating your business plan. This could create new ideas for the future and keep your business afloat. We are all obviously hoping that the Government assist us, but if you can put new plans in place then that will be a great start.

Be creative

This is so tough as we understand so many businesses will be completely firefighting at the moment. But try and be creative. There could be other ways that you sell your products or services. Try and think what you can offer people, with your expertise. There could be something that will ensure your business stays afloat during these really trying times.

Can we help you?

We are all still here and working. If you need to make changes to your website then please do get in touch. Just give us a call on 01435 817226 or send us an email. We may be able to adapt what you have already. or perhaps help you to offer something different to your customers. Maybe we can set up an email campaign for you. Telling all your customers of the improvements and updates you are making to your business. Or to just be there to chat through your ideas. We need to help each other out at the moment and we will do our best to help you.

Warmest washes from all at Sokada Ltd

As we said in our first Instagram post of this year, 2020 for Sokada is shaping up to be one of the most exciting to date!

If you’ve come to visit us at our offices, you’ll come to know that we have quite a compact office. Having been here since the start in 2016, it’s become clearer in recent months that we need to upscale our offices a bit. We were looking for somewhere that was still in a prime location on Heathfield High Street but with slightly more floor space.

We’ve been looking for the perfect place to move into for a few months now – and as luck would have it, in December last year we found the perfect place.

Our New Office is… Next door!

That’s right – we’re moving just a few feet away to the office next door to us, previously used by Belladonna Beauty. With this new and bigger space we’ll be able to do much more in our office, and we’re already looking at how best to use our new space.

moving office
We’re packing up our offices at the end of this week to move in on Monday 2nd March!

That means we’re only a few steps away from our old office, if you know where that is, you take the right-hand door next to our old office, turn right, left, and down the corridor.

From the 1st March if you have a meeting with us, you can ring our doorbell which is at the door on the high street, in between Westwoods and Pople & Broad Opticians.

Moving Day

We’re going to be moving offices from the 28th February. So over the course of this day, we’ll have our phone lines and Internet connection switched over. This means you may not be able to get in touch by phone for a little while. It should only take a day for us to set everything up again, so we’ll be back to business as usual on Monday 1st March.

Our New Address

Our New Address is nearly the same as our old one;

Suite C,
Bank Buildings,
Cherwell Road,
East Sussex,
TN21 8JT

As Christmas is only just around the corner – we’d like to wish all of our lovely clients a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Do you like what we’ve done to make our website Christmassy? Santa himself put a little flurry appear on our site. If you’re one of our clients, and you’d like to see some snow on your website for the Christmas period; email us, and we’ll add some for you!

We hope you have a Great Christmas

We hope you’re spending this festive period with friends and family, and you get the chance to relax before the start of the New Year. As we’ve done before, we’ll close the office for a few days over Christmas; just so that everyone here can put their feet up a bit!

You might be getting Christmas cards from businesses like us. We hope you don’t take it personally, as we haven’t sent cards to anyone this year. Instead, we’ve decided to spend some money giving to charity, after all, Christmas is all about giving, and not receiving. So that’s why we’ve chosen the charity Warming Up the Homeless to donate to. So if you’d like to join us in helping this worthy cause over the Christmas period, click here.

Our Christmas Party!

We decided to hold our Christmas Party this year at Pilio; a boutique Greek Bistro in Heathfield. As you can see from the photo, there were lots of empty plates and beer bottles – so we can only assume it was well received!

Thank you to Pilio for having us, and providing such delicious food!

christmas party at Sokada

Christmas Opening Hours

We hope nothing goes wrong whilst we’re out of the office, but should a website or email related emergency occur please contact us via Email with the subject line URGENT.

But if it’s less urgent, our office opening hours over the Christmas period are;

Monday 23rd December – Friday 27th December

Monday 30th DecemberTuesday 31st December
Open 9:00 – 17:00

Wednesday 1st January 2020

Thursday 2nd January 2020
Open – Business as usual!

We are now pleased to offer our clients a CDN package to improve the performance of your website. This package is particularly helpful if either your website has a lot of images, or you have visitors to your website from all around the world.

If you’ve not heard of a CDN before, you probably have a lot of questions like what is a CDN? How does a CDN work? Does it cost me an arm and a leg? (spoiler: it won’t)

This blog post will hopefully answer all the questions you have and help you decide whether a CDN package would be a good idea for your website.

What is a CDN?

A CDN stands for ‘Content Delivery Network’, and you would certainly not be alone in thinking that you’ve never heard of it before. But in fact, they’ve been around for quite some time now. Did you know that over half the traffic on the internet at the moment is served by a CDN?

This is because most large businesses such as Facebook, Amazon and Google all have their own CDN, and they’re used to improve the loading times of websites around the world. But just because the big boys of the internet use them doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bother having one for your own website.

Why You Should Use a CDN

A CDN might sound self-explanatory, and to a certain extent, it does do what it says on the tin. A CDN helps with the delivery of the content (mainly images) on your website through a network of different servers. But what a CDN does is put all your images onto different servers around the world. This means that wherever you are, your images are sourced from the quickest server that you can reach, and your page load speeds and images are loaded much quicker.

How Does a CDN Help Me?

If your website is hosted on our server, it’s currently sitting on UK cloud-based servers. So when someone visits your website, all of the content and images comes from the same place and is transferred to the user’s phone or computer.

This is fine if your clients are in the UK, as our server is never that far away from them, and it doesn’t take that much time for them to load your website. But what if you have someone in Australia that wants to visit your website. Their computer or phone still must access the same UK server, and because it’s so far away (even for technology), it will take a long time for the page to load.

Another instance of when a CDN comes in handy is if you have lots of visitors to your website at once. This might be because you’ve just posted an interesting blog post that people want to read. If there is one server dealing with all these visits to your website, it’s going to slow your website down.

You know the well-known phrase ‘A problem shared is a problem halved’ – A CDN works on this kind of principle. A CDN is able to use multiple servers at once to help one person or hundreds of people load a page. What this means is there is never too much work for one server to manage.

To show you just how much a CDN improves your page load speeds; here’s an example of our own site, showing that across the world. We have speeds that score at least 97% based on PageSpeed score and a load time of 1.2 Seconds!

Why You Should Use a CDN

Why Should I Care About Page Load speeds?

One reason you should care about page load speeds is that it affects your customer’s experience. Studies have shown that for every extra second it takes your page to load you lose 7% of your traffic.

It’s not just conversions that you need to consider. For over a year, Google has been taking into account the loading speed of a page to help determine page rankings on their search engines. What this means is the longer it takes for your page to load, the lower down in the search results you will appear.

Where Do I Sign Up?

We’re offering our CDN package to all of our clients that don’t have an E-Commerce website. This package costs £100 for the initial setup and full website optimisation and then £10/month to continue hosting on our CDN.

If you’d like to add this package to your website, or you have any questions about our CDN, please get in touch with us.

About Me

I’m Kieran, I’m 22 years old, and I’m working at Sokada doing online marketing for our clients. Having lived in Heathfield pretty much all my life; I have a good understanding of the local area. I’ve also previously worked on local community social media pages for businesses and local authorities.

I recently graduated from the University of Sussex where I studied Media & Communications. The course was aimed at discussing the role that media plays in society. My degree has provided me with a valuable insight into how social media is used by businesses to promote their brand and connect with their customers.

Outside of work and studying, I do a fair bit of gaming (although not to the same level as Jamie!). I enjoy real-world simulation games such as X-Plane and Train Simulator. Although I can’t fly a plane or drive a train, I still enjoy trying to perfect my flying and driving skills.

Before Sokada

My last job was working at Starbucks alongside my studies at University. I really enjoy making (and drinking) good coffee; so if you see me in the office, I’ll undoubtedly have a coffee cup (or two!) on my desk. Whilst I loved my job at Starbucks, I’m happy that I’m moving on to something more related to my field of study.

A few years ago I secured a casual six month contract funded by a grant from Heathfield & Waldron Parish Council. This contract was to help setup and operate a social media strategy for Heathfield. In this role, I was responsible for guiding a range of public sector organisations and local businesses to post engaging content.

Life at Sokada

My life at Sokada is working to improve our clients visibility online, through blog-writing, keyword research, or using social media.

However, Marketing is not the only thing I’m doing; my writing skills also come in handy when it comes to content writing for new websites.

Why Sokada?

Having already worked alongside both Julian and Jude, I know that I work well with both of them. They both have a real passion for the work that they do, and their attentiveness serves them both well in this field of work. It will be a real pleasure to work with them once again to provide the best marketing and websites for our clients.

My commute to work is also a short walk down the road, which is absolutely perfect!

A typical day at Sokada

My day at Sokada will be working on online marketing tasks such as writing blog posts, posting on client’s social media pages, and content writing for new websites. I will also be completing a few office admin tasks from time to time, to keep the office organised.

Cyber Security and understanding more

I went to a really informative Cyber Security event last week in Hailsham. It was presented by Andy Rawlinson from the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU) and sponsored by the Hailsham Chamber of Commerce and Astec Computing (UK).

We see a lot of companies in our day to day work, who don’t really have a lot of understanding of the dangers of the internet, or even the importance of having a reliable, secure IT infrastructure.

I think people and businesses just think they will be OK. However, listening to the presentation this morning, they clearly won’t be!

Some of the elements I understood more than others as we see them all the time, like Phishing, Denial of Service Attacks and Website Hacking.

Cyber Security

Some of the key elements I took away with me were:


Make sure that any device you have that connects to the Internet is running an up to date anti-virus system. These don’t have to be expensive, there are some really good free ones; but you have to use something. Keep this up to date and make sure that it is working properly, as well as regularly scan your devices.

Also use something to detect Malware on your devices. Malware is the malicious software or programs that are harmful to your devices; it’s these that actually do all the dirty work.


A firewall is your first line of defense. It’s a protective barrier that sits on your PC or router and protects you from unwanted access to the system. You can change the security settings on your firewall to suit your requirements, making them specific to you.

When you add new software or apps to your PC, you will need to change the permissions on your Firewall and you will probably notice requests to do this. You can also review what software/websites have access to your system. Setting up your firewall properly is important.

Secure Offsite Backups

Make sure you have an effective back up of your computer data. If you can get a backup of your system files that’s even better. This will make it easier to get things working again if your security is breached. Also do your best to understand how the backups work and what is actually backed up. As well as this, you need to know how to restore the backed-up files.

Backups should be offsite. Whether that’s in the cloud or on a drive that you physically remove from the office after the backup is completed. You may not want to trust a cloud backup, but they are generally pretty good and make a lot of sense.

If you don’t have time to do this, or the inclination, then it makes sense to find an IT company who can help you create a backup plan.

2FA (2 Factor Authentication)

These days most online systems that require you to login with a password also give you the option to set up 2FA. This basically means that when you login with your user/password it will also send an authorisation code, usually to your mobile phone. To gain access you will need to have access to the phone and enter the code that is sent to you.

We build a lot of WordPress websites and we have been starting to implement 2FA on the CMS (Content Management System) so that you can’t login and make changes unless you can authenticate properly. This is relatively simple to do so ask your developer to help you.

Email security

This is something that affects us more than most of the others on a day to day basis. We manage email for most of our clients and security and strong passwords are very important. We also see quite a few Phishing emails which we regularly speak to clients about. Spotting a dodgy email can be hard enough especially as they are so well disguised, but it’s really important that if you have any suspicions then you must not open an email.

As a rule of thumb, large companies, banks and government bodies won’t ask you to login to your account via an email. If you are worried call them instead. Phishing emails will try and push you, by adding a sense of urgency to the request, but again if the request is unexpected or urgent and you don’t know what it is then it’s probably not from who you think it is.

Having a good password won’t stop you opening a phishing email, but it might stop someone using your email account for a different purpose. Hackers can use your account to attack other businesses, sending thousands of emails to slow and cause their systems to crash. DoS (Denial of Service) attacks may not be focused on you but if you are part of one, even unwittingly, it can lead to your mail account getting blocked and much more.

Create a business wide policy in regard to handling suspicious email, so that as a group you understand how to handle these as well as how to deal with them.

Password Management systems

Having good quality passwords is very important. Ideally of 14 characters or more, with upper and lower case text plus numbers and special characters. Unfortunately, the better you make them the harder they are to remember.

Another good idea is to create a pass phrase, so three sets of words that you can remember but that aren’t linked or obvious… something like “RelaxingFriendsSkiing” might be a good one for me. You can then juice this up a little by making some of the characters numbers or using special characters; “#Rel4xingFriends$kiing”.

But creating and remembering lots of good passwords is still going to be hard, so you could try using a password management system. These store and remember all your different passwords with you using one good pass phrase to access the management system. A lot of these can also remember and log you in automatically to systems that you use regularly. But only do this on devices you trust and manage and of course make sure you use 2FA.

Some simple steps to take

OK so here are the basics of what we have said above:

  • Make sure you use a good anti-virus and keep this up to date and working
  • Combine this with a good Malware package to illuminate malicious software
  • Back up your critical business systems and understand how to restore the back up if anything goes wrong
  • Use 2 Factor Authentication (2FA) whenever possible
  • Use business email and make sure your passwords are strong. Also have a policy within your business for dealing with suspicious emails
  • Invest in a good password manager

For me the single most important thing to do is get help. Speak to an expert about your Cyber Security and work with them to do as much as you can to prevent access to your systems. This is definitely worth spending money on as it potentially can save you EVERYTHING…