The novel coronavirus (COVID-19), declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) in March of 2020, continues to wreak havoc worldwide and cause devastating impacts on various aspects of society, different industries, and even government institutions.
Temporary and permanent business closures heightened travel restrictions, and a sudden shift in operations are just a few of the unexpected changes that led to the crushing global economic downturn. While it has ultimately affected many if not all industries, certain businesses and sectors suffered more than others.
As multiple studies pointed out, many of the badly hit industries affected by the COVID-19 economic downturn are sectors that depend on the movement of goods and people. Some of the severely affected industries include travel, hospitality, recreation, F&B, construction, and other traditional businesses.
Despite the bleak statistics, other industry verticals were positively impacted and thriving in these challenging times. Just like in the past, those who innovate and leverage technology come out stronger. Today, some industries doing well even amid the COVID-19 pandemic include HealthTech, e-commerce, EdTech, FinTech, AI and ML services, and telecommunication and digital platforms.
With the pandemic further fueling the sudden shift to digital, the global e-commerce industry jumped to $26.7 trillion, according to the data from the latest United Nations report.
With that, the businesses that operate within these sectors give hope of economic recovery. While the virus continues to wreak havoc, technology-enabled startups, e-commerce ventures, and digital-first businesses are living proof that you shouldn’t be afraid to invest even in these pandemic times.
So, how do you prepare your business for the post-pandemic world?
8 Ways Your Business Can Survive In The Post-Pandemic Era
1. Go digital and move your business online
With COVID-19 changing the way, business is done globally and consumers interact with brands, it is imperative to stay relevant. As the pandemic continues to accelerate the digital shift across industry verticals, it’s a must for businesses big and small to invest in digital transformation efforts, reconfigure operations, and look into integrating tech as soon as possible.
2. Transition to a remote work setup
While managing pay for remote workers can be a sticky ordeal, it is vital to take immediate actions focused on protecting and keeping them safe—this includes transitioning from an office-based to a work-from-home setup.
As your employees are the backbone of your business, apart from ensuring their safety, it is also helpful to provide extra benefits like additional leave allocations, internet allowance, and office-issued laptops or desktops, if necessary. That way, you can keep everyone motivated, retain talented employees, and recover from the economic downturn together.
3. Outsource specialized skills
The e-commerce industry has been on the rise for a few years now, but with the pandemic affecting businesses, the demand has grown even more. With e-commerce businesses operating during a series of lockdowns across regions, consumers have access to necessities such as food, water, clothing, medical supplies, and other basic needs.
As the landscape continues to see a spike in e-commerce growth, increasing competition in the market is inevitable. For this, it is imperative to stand out from the crowd to succeed.
To beat the competition, every e-commerce leader should understand the value of eCommerce metrics and big data analytics to gain strategic customer insights, strengthen customer experience, boost revenue, and succeed in the market. While data analytics is easily accessible to bigger e-commerce players, this is not the case for small- and medium-sized businesses with a limited budget.
Onboarding a full-time data scientist to manage, analyze, and draw impactful insights to improve business operations can be costly, especially for MSMEs. Although, thankfully, there is a way around this hurdle, as companies now have the option to outsource specialized skills such as data analysis.
4. Focus your current customers on fostering long-term relationships
Customer acquisition can cost up to five times more than retaining your existing base. It, therefore, makes sense financially to nurture your relationship with them. However, customers are anxious, rethinking their priorities. A recent report found that up to four out of 10 customers switch between brands as they seek out those that deliver on value, quality, and purpose.
This is where knowing your customers come in handy. You adapt to what they need amid the pandemic. How many times they purchased from your business pre-COVID won’t matter if they no longer see the value in your business. All your customers are important, but take particular care of your most valuable ones. Consider providing them exclusive deals or special services.
5. Reassess and reset your business plan and strategy
With the pandemic drastically changing the business landscape, it is crucial to take another look at your business plan. Is it still relevant in the current situation, or does it need revamping? Does it represent the objectives and goals you need to achieve today to come out stronger in the post-pandemic era?
In such crises, your strategy can make or break your company. For this, it is essential to take a step back to reassess your business and go back to the drawing board. Strive to establish specific steps you need to take to build resilience and succeed, which business aspects and strategy to prioritize, how to leverage the digital shift, and where to get additional funds and resources to survive and thrive.
6. Know your customers and target market
As always, your business should fill a need. But with the pandemic, customers’ needs have changed in a lot of ways. Factors like loss of income and decreased mobility have affected how people work, shop, and socialize. It’s imperative for your business to identify what’s changed and what hasn’t.
By knowing how your customers are changing, you have the foundation to reevaluate your business’ customer service, marketing, business development, and every other aspect of the company.
There is a wide range of ways to know your customers. Listen to their customer service inquiries or complaints. How have their concerns changed? Are they looking for any products or services that will help them cope with the pandemic better?
Look at sales data, too. Is there a shift in your top-selling products or your most availed services? Your customers will point you in the right direction—which is why you should listen and look into the right data and statistics.
7. Assess the competition and find your competitive edge
Another way to gather insights is by checking what your competitors are doing. Tech innovations, pricing adjustments, marketing channels—pay attention to how they’re responding to the pandemic. You don’t want your business to get left behind. Once you have assessed the competition, it’s time to establish your growth opportunities and find your competitive edge to keep them at bay.
For instance, with the pandemic putting a prime on empathy, authenticity, and customer experience, commit to seamlessly meeting your customers’ needs and priorities while creating an honest brand that transparently communicates delays in delivery or any changes in fulfilment processes. In building a brand that consumers can trust, you can stand out, beat the competition, and become a market leader.
8. Explore incorporating AI in your business
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is undoubtedly taking centre stage, especially as the pandemic continues to accelerate the digital shift. It has been a growing force primarily in the innovation space as it supports companies towards achieving their business growth objectives. In integrating AI, enterprises can:
- improve efficiency as it automates manual tasks and simplifies processes;
- accurately analyze data, flag crucial mistakes, and strengthen business strategy;
- foster innovation and business growth; and
- boost productivity as it assists and supports team members in completing tasks.
While AI integration may seem daunting at first, it is worth the work as AI’s potential is limitless—from optimizing marketing initiatives and customer experience to improving data management and security and cultivating innovation.
The pandemic may have thrown unexpected challenges your way, but it’s time to gather your team, put your heads together, and work on reconfiguring your business strategy towards thriving in the post-pandemic world. As Gartner puts it, there is no other time to respond, recover, and renew but now.
Keep in mind, incorporating tech and innovation is crucial to business success—while it can seem overwhelming, having the right tools and the right people by your side make all the difference.
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