Tuesday 22nd Sep 2020
As we move out of the initial stages of the global pandemic, and with hope towards recovery, we have seen extensive coverage of how different types of business have managed to weather the storm. Indeed, some economists are warning of a two-speed economy, in which certain sectors recover well and grow, and others decline. However, the post-COVID-19 world is not all about which sector a given business is in. It is also about how the business responded, and a willingness to embrace modern technology and digital channels seems to be one of the major indicators of success.
Unsurprisingly, businesses that shifted their focus from the traditional bricks-and-mortar model to the digital space have seen significant benefit. E-commerce-only businesses have largely come away unscathed from the crisis, and those that pivoted to increase their online offering have similarly mitigated the footfall impact of lockdowns.
A combination of government interventions, along with reduced spending on things like transport, have meant that a significant proportion of consumers have actually found that they have more disposable income. For this reason, ecommerce stores in sectors like food and drink, entertainment, and home wares have found that their business has in some cases been on the up since more people have spent time at home.
Where businesses normally rely on footfall, astute retailers have managed to pivot their offering, either by rapidly setting up ecommerce arms, or by leveraging social media. Effective use of Facebook for example allowed smaller cafes and restaurants to continue selling by offering a delivery service. It is innovative ideas such as this that have delivered excellent value.
Of course, those businesses that have seen the most success are those that have carefully optimised their online offering. This means crafting messaging that’s relevant to the current situation, being mindful of it, and offering products that are in some way a solution. Who’d have known for example, that the UK would see a hot tub shortage in the weeks following the earliest lockdown?
Digital communication has been essential to keeping businesses moving whilst employees work from home, meetings cannot happen in person, and customers cannot visit a physical retail store or office. And it’s very clear that SMEs that have properly embraced this new way of working have managed to ensure that productivity hasn’t dropped.
Zoom and Microsoft Teams in particular have been essential to keeping teams connected and retaining some sense of normality. SMEs that spotted gaps in their IT systems early on are the ones that managed to navigate home working most effectively. This should be a wake-up call for many businesses that may realise that they didn’t have the digital communications facilities in place that they should have. After all, many of the successes that have come about as the result of COVID-19, should be taken forward into the post-pandemic world.