In 2008 the country experienced a financial crisis that had a major economic impact. People could no longer afford high-end vacations or new car purchases. Driving the need for low cost alternatives. It’s how multi-billion-dollar companies like Uber & Airbnb were born. Today, business owners are faced with new challenges and questions brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. How will customer’s buying behaviors change? Will I be able to adapt my business to stay-afloat and meet customer demands? Here are 10 ways COVID-19 may change business and how to adapt for success.
1) Product sourcing closer to home
Sourcing supplies from China and other overseas countries, which supply 50 to 70% of the world’s copper, iron ore and nickel, presents unique challenges. It has reduced the ability for businesses, especially manufacturers and retail, to maintain inventory and operations during COVID-19.
Post coronavirus, businesses may look for suppliers and manufacturing capabilities closer to their location in order to reduce out of stock situations. Businesses sourcing products closer to home may also see lower shipping and transport costs. Guarding against disruption and saving money are two benefits that may fuel demand for regionalized production and sourcing. The increased demand provides new opportunities for businesses wanting to provide or start warehouse, manufacturing or other related services.
2) Working remote continues
A recent Gartner Survey revealed nearly three in four CFOs plan to keep some employees working from home after the pandemic ends.
Employees not only want to reduce or eliminate time spent commuting into an office, they are also looking for flexibility. Remote employees not only save businesses money, it helps them meet the needs of employees which helps them retain top talent. As more and more employees work from home the demand for equipment and other products needed to maintain productivity and allow for easy communication will grow. Purchasing equipment maybe cost prohibitive, which may create an opportunity for businesses to shift into equipment leasing or expand their product offering to include work from home necessities.
3) Curbside and delivery services increase
The pandemic caused restaurants and other businesses that don’t normally offer curbside pick-up or delivery to pivot in order to protect the safety of their customers and employees. Consumers like the added convenience which is why these services will most likely continue post pandemic.
Companies like Instacart and Door Dash were popular before the coronavirus outbreak but have grown substantially during COVID-19. However, there is still plenty of opportunity for new businesses to enter the delivery business. Existing businesses should look for ways to boost revenue and eliminate expenses by offering their customers the convenience of curbside pick-up or delivery. As the need for delivery and pickup services grows, so does the opportunity for companies that provide products and services that support delivery or pickup. For example, companies that provide take out boxes and bags or provide order tracking services.
4) No contact buying
Customers will want to reduce their exposure to people and surfaces to avoid the spread of the coronavirus. This creates an opportunity for businesses to provide new solutions that address the demand for a contactless shopping experience or expand new customer sales.
Companies can provide innovative solutions that cater to consumers wanting to avoid physically touching items during their shopping experience. Doors that open upon entry or with a swipe of hand provide contactless entry is just one opportunity example since several businesses do not have them.
5) Increased Online shopping
It’s only natural given the shelter in place mandates and social distancing that online shopping has grown. Many people are new to online shopping, showcasing how COVID-19 has changed buying patterns. Once people become accustomed to the convenience of buying online, it is anticipated the trend will continue.
The increase in online shopping presents a variety of opportunities for businesses that can address the unique needs of specific demographics or businesses looking to offer online ordering and resources. A business that does not have online ordering or actively participate in social media may struggle to keep up. There is a growth opportunity for businesses that offer online marketing. The key is targeting businesses that need their services now.
6) Staying clean
Due to the Coronavirus pandemic there is a heightened awareness of how clean an establishment is. People need to feel a business is doing everything they can to keep them safe from contracting COVID-19. From sanitizing shopping carts and cleaning all shelves and cash register areas, businesses have implemented many cleaning policies during the pandemic to reassure customers. As businesses reopen, they want to make sure their employees and customers are safe. This will present an opportunity for businesses who supply cleaning services and sanitizing products. It may also present an opportunity for an innovative company who can create new ways to sanitize all surfaces that customers come in contact with.
7) Instilling customer trust
In order to build customer trust businesses must make transparency a top priority. Customers need to feel the business is honest and put them first over profitability. In the eyes of public opinion, how a business acts may directly impact their revenue, making it more important than ever for businesses to monitor what consumers think of their actions. When the public learned of larger businesses taking advantage of the Paycheck Protection Program loan, they were criticized for taking the money intended for small businesses. Public criticism prompted many businesses to return the money to undo any long-term damage that outweighed the benefits of keeping it.
8) Smaller entertainment venues
Some business analysts believe even when people are no longer under self-quarantine and social distancing guidelines lessen, people will still be wary of going into places with large crowds. Sports bars crowded with people, standing shoulder to shoulder, cheering and yelling for their favorite team may not draw as many people.
Reduced attendance will require businesses to be creative and adapt to maintain revenue. During the Coronavirus pandemic, online concerts of popular performers received millions of views and movie premiers moved from the theater to on-demand viewing.
Businesses will be able to manage the physical distance by removing tables and chairs to allow for proper social distancing and on-line shows can continue. However, consumers will want to be active participants during the event or want their in-home experience to mimic the live experience. For example, in-home lighting that dims when the on-demand movie starts paired with surround sound equipment will create a movie theater experience in their own home. Businesses that can create those experiences may be in high demand in the new post pandemic world.
9) Increased attention to health and wellness
There is no doubt that the coronavirus hit people with underlying medical conditions harder than people considered in good health. Public service announcements encourage people to pay attention to their overall health, exercise, stay hydrated and take care of themselves. In addition, people want to avoid going to the doctor or hospital in order to avoid possible exposure to COVID-19. Many physicians adapted by offering video conferencing, a service expected to continue post-pandemic.
As healthcare companies adapt and leverage technology to shape the future of medical care, they may look for companies who can provide a way for the patient to send key medical information accurately from their home to their physician in real-time. People will also look for new and innovative ways to track and achieve their fitness goals possibly increasing the need for new technology or online fitness class platforms.
10) Work Life balance
The coronavirus pandemic has altered the way people think about their careers and their personal life. It’s anticipated some people will leave overpopulated cities and move to the suburbs where they have a less stressful life. Many have said they have enjoyed the additional time with family and getting back to basics prompting some to say employees will be looking for a better work life balance.
Post pandemic employees will put a higher emphasis on the quality of life when choosing to stay with a company or apply for a new job. Businesses that do not consider employee needs risk losing highly qualified employees who chose an improved quality life even at the risk of a pay cut.
The need to balance work with home life creates opportunities for products that improve quality of life. If people move to the suburbs there may be an increase need for moving companies and real estate relocation services. In addition, technology companies that allow remote employees to stay connected and communicate may also do well post-pandemic.