When we rang the doorbell in 2020 it is safe to say that almost no one could imagine the New Year practically on our doorstep. Covid-19 arrived like a monsoon. And with it a multitude of changes not only in relation to our life and work, but also in relation to the management.
Quarantines and bans became a lifestyle that forced companies to change the way they work. Office staff, sales reps, and other people who were deemed not essential started working from home. In-person meetings and sales pitches are a thing of the past and have been replaced by collaboration tools to make virtual teams more efficient.
Although we have been in the disruption caused by the virus for almost a year, the economic ramifications are being felt in almost every part of the world. According to a report by Harvard Business Review the downward forecast includes a 13 to 32% decline in trade in goods, a 30 to 40% decline in FDI, and a 44 to 80% decline Decline in international air travel.
Although the effects continue to unfold, one has to ask oneself: Could companies be better prepared, what lessons can be learned and are there opportunities that could arise from this unique world? Pandemic?
For the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, executives are more optimistic about economic conditions and the viability of their own business. A recent McKinsey Global Survey shows that more than half of the executives surveyed believe global economic conditions will improve in the next six months and are equally confident that it will the demand for their products will increase in the coming months.
While the outlook is hopeful, it does not mean that companies can or should return to the status quo. Many continue to fight, and some will follow in the footsteps of their predecessors by closing their doors permanently. In order to remain profitable, companies had to find new business methods, which in many cases means a different business strategy.
To illustrate this, the areas of law and healthcare rely on language service providers (LSPs) when interpreting language on site. With the onset of Covid-19, the LSPs had to switch to remote interpretation almost immediately. "LSPs that did not have the technology to support remote interpretation lost nearly 100% of their sales overnight," says Angelo Passalacqua, CEO of BURG Translations, Inc .
Regardless of whether they operate at a local or global level, the pandemic has made companies aware of the importance of being able to change their business model quickly in order to take account of changes in purchasing behavior. For some companies, this has meant enabling customers to get what they need without leaving their car or even their home, others have started making much-needed products while others have moved from brick-and-mortar to e-commerce.
When looking back at how companies have dealt with change, two sentences come to mind: Resilience of the business model and Unleash innovation . "Now is not the time to take something for granted," says Karl L. Buschmann, Executive Director of the International Trade Club of Chicago (ITCC) . "It's a new world of uncertainty. What is proven is no longer." Many companies found this out firsthand when they had no choice but to reinvent themselves.
An example that we all know is gastronomy. Many institutions that have never dreamed of performing are now doing so with increasing regularity. It seemed to have happened practically overnight, with restaurants almost everywhere starting to offer roadside pickup and food delivery.
In the same way, many manufacturing companies converted to produce devices that were in short supply. From small furniture stores to large corporations like GM and Boeing, companies have made products to fight Covid-19, including ventilators, personal protective equipment (PPE), nasal swabs, and even field hospital beds.
If you are in an industry that is not suitable for roadside pickup or if you don't have a manufacturing facility that can be converted, you still have options to generate revenue. One of the best ways to do this is to enter new markets.
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As a result of the pandemic, e-commerce has increased massively. Online spending in April and May was $ 153 billion in an amount equivalent to $ 52 billion more than what retailers typically shop, according to Adobe's Digital Economy Index April and May see . “Whether B2B or B2C, cultures all over the world use everything online,” says Passalacqua. "Technology has made it easier for people to buy and sell overseas than ever before."
Before the pandemic, many companies pursued customer-centric strategies in order to build trust and loyalty. Since Covid-19, the difference between success and failure in these uncertain times can be to put the customer at the center of your actions. Providing a personalized online service is difficult under the best of circumstances, but the complications of selling in a foreign market are compounded.
"2020 is the year of the customer," says Scott Snyder, founder and CEO of Sellution . Companies need to focus more on the customer experience. This assumes that things are combined earlier (person to person) and combined with today's online shopping needs. "It's about building a relationship that uses a hybrid approach of automation and personality," explains Snyder.
When most people hear the word "e-commerce" they are more likely to think of B2C. However, this sales model serves B2B companies alike. Similar to your B2C colleagues, personalization plays a role in the B2B world.
To get the maximum benefit, B2B companies really need to understand their customers and their needs, ”says Dan Neiweem, co-founder and principal at Avionos . "They need to approach their e-commerce strategy and digital portal much like a service-oriented company, providing both an online service and ongoing strategic human support and seamlessly merging the two."
Results of a recent Avionos survey support these statements:
These statistics clearly show that the B2B e-commerce market is ripe and waiting for those brave enough to take the plunge. However, there are some considerations to ensure your success. The Avionos survey also reports:
While none of these challenges are insurmountable, especially if you are planning a national e-commerce rollout, there are other considerations as you expand globally. If your strategy involves globalization, you need to localize and translate your content to make the impression you want: web copies, blog posts, emails, videos, and SEO tags. That way, prospects can find you online and get the personal touch it takes to turn prospects into customers.
"The business world doesn't like insecurity – it wants security and concrete plans," says Buschmann. Whether you are faced with Covid-19 or another economic downturn, this is not the time to rest on your laurels. To keep your business running at maximum efficiency and profitability, there are a few things you should do during an economic downturn.
“First, you should review every source of income and look for problems and solutions that are under your control,” says Passalacqua. "Second, you should hold team meetings to get an internal view of what's going on, get creative with new initiatives, and find people to help you get started."
While the corporate impact of Covid-19 will continue to plague us for some time to come, it has also enabled those willing to take bold steps to seize new opportunities. It showed us how easily the internet is making geographic borders disappear and opening the door to business opportunities around the world.
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