In the weeks surrounding the onset of COVID-19, businesses worldwide have pivoted quickly.
Many have juggled shifting expectations by establishing remote work arrangements, securing supply chains, reducing employee workload, cutting costs, or applying for government support.
Now it’s time to move forward with a proactive business plan and to consider new opportunities. What will this look like for your business? Here are three strategies:
Strategy 1: Same Products, Different Channel
If the majority of your business takes place on-site, now a promotion focus through a different channel may be helpful.
In what ways can you offer the same (or similar) products and services through an online channel? Can you digitize any of your physical products? Can you offer webinars, online consultation, or build a technology-mediated delivery solution? From curbside pick-up to livestream shopping events, ramped up digital options are a low-hanging fruit every business should explore.
One florist facing delivery bans sold “virtual” bouquets for $70-$400 dollars. The recipient got a photo of their bouquet over email with the promise of a live delivery once businesses re-opened. When Chinese cosmetics company Lin Qingxuan was forced to close 40% of its stores, the company redeployed its beauty advisers as online influencers, and digital tools like WeChat engaged customers virtually. One large-scale livestream shopping event featuring 100 beauty advisers, helping Lin Quingxuan’s February sales climb 120% over 2019 sales.
Strategy 2: Same Infrastructure, Different Products
During a crisis, leaders must recognize opportunities and make the most of them.
The COVID-19 season is a crucial time to consider new opportunities. While the need for some products and services has fallen, demand for others is high and even growing. Can your business deploy existing infrastructure to produce different products or offer new services?
In the spring of 2020, companies such as LVMH (perfumes) and Skyroro (rockets) switched to producing hand sanitizer within a few days. Manufacturers like GM, Ford, and My Pillow modified idle production lines to manufacture medical devices and face masks.
If people today see increased value in e-learning, improved individual health, or meaningful networking, how can your business identify and fill these needs? Disruptors often come from the bottom of the market to upend traditional retailers, or they create new markets and appeal to customers who have previously gone without a product.
Strategy 3: Same Products, Different Infrastructure
Perhaps your challenge is an increased demand for a particular product or service.
In this season, some companies may need to quickly augment physical systems, communication networks, or staffing to increase production or delivery capacity. And building new infrastructure often requires collaboration with external partners.
Employee sharing is one example of companies shifting infrastructure to meet needs. In Germany, McDonald’s staff have been permitted to work at Aldi stores while on-site dining is shuttered, and groceries are swamped. On the physical side, an adapted retail model may mean offer smaller stores (or “nodes” within large spaces) rather than crowd-based facilities.
Monitoring needs and forecasting future behavior are critical to adapting your infrastructure and remaining nimble.
Creativity Fuels Innovation
During a crisis, many things are out of your control.
But that’s OK, because you can still shape your response! Focus solely on what you can control. Look for creative ways to adapt, and you will come out stronger in the years to come.