For the time being, our homes seem to be the perfect place if we want to stay safe, but this time of isolation means different things to different people. For some lockdown means some much-needed quiet time, for others the social distancing can be mentally challenging. For many it’s all about practicalities while others worry about their financial survival. Just as all of us react differently on a personal level, this unique challenge has a dramatic and quite varied effect on businesses.
For the small business owner who is not able to work from home or who is not providing an essential service such as food or health products, lockdown is a serious threat. Salaries, rent and bills have to be paid and no income is guaranteed for at least three weeks. Add this to an already pressured economic environment and one feels for them. But small businesses are not the only ones who will be feeling the effect. Everyone in hospitality – from the chef to the tent hire company – is in trouble and there is not much they can do about it.
But, for some, the Covid-19 pandemic has brought amazing opportunity. For some, it is the perfect time and perfect place to become a success. Take Zoom, this online communication tool or meeting space can’t stay up with demand. Meetings have moved from the board room table to the online space overnight. Friends meet online for a glass of wine, the platform works for online home schooling and I even saw grannies doing the bedtime reading for grandchildren via this platform. The offering is varied, easy to use and affordable. It is exactly what is required in a time when people need to connect from a distance – whether it is in a professional or personal capacity. (Read more) While things will hopefully get back to normal sooner rather than later, I also think we are learning more about what is possible online. Perhaps we will have more confidence in implementing online options and opt for more time and cost effective ways of doing business in future.
While things will hopefully get back to normal sooner rather than later, I also think we are learning more about what is possible online. Perhaps we will be more confident to implement online options and opt for more time and cost effective ways of doing business in future.
When it comes to competitive pricing, it is especially those selling non-essential goods who are offering special online deals and discounts. With lockdown meaning no delivery of non-essentials, you might have to wait a week or three for online orders, but you can get a leather couch for 50% less than normal, winter boots for 25% off and Egyptian cotton for a third cheaper than the regular price. If you’re not worried about what Corona will mean for your financial health in the long-term, now is not a bad time to shop online – and you have the time to browse!
Some traditional businesses also just happen to have the perfect offering for this specific challenge. We’re well familiar with them, they didn’t really have to change anything to their offering and they don’t have to do any special marketing or discounts. Of course, the grocers fall in this category. We all have to eat and after the panic buying before the lockdown, people are still going to the stores or ordering online.
One specific business that should thrive during this time, is local health and wellness chain, Clicks. A few years ago, regular retailers picking up on the consumer trend for convenience, started to stock all the typical Clicks products such as toiletries, cosmetics, hygiene and wellness products. Traditional clothing chain stores became competition with beauty products and Clicks had to come with a point of difference. They might have explored a few avenues, but in my opinion, the most successful was the addition of Clicks Pharmacy. Conveniently located in the relative safety of malls or shopping centres, with professional advice from pharmacists, Clicks has become a one-stop for health and beauty shopping (also online). Suddenly they got a big tick next to the convenience requirement. Add to that the club card and rewards programme and this is at least one business that shouldn’t feel a negative effect from lockdown.
Another business that has just about the perfect offering for this challenge, is Netflix. While competition is rife with other streaming channels and television networks, it is the quality of their content that keeps Netflix the number one choice for Americans during this time of social distancing. (Read more) Similar to Clicks, for them it is not about running special offers or creating another offering. They fit the bill and they are trusted for their quality and this puts them ahead of the competition.
Having such a good reputation is very important. Social distancing is something we have to consider for the foreseeable future. While South Africa and some other countries are at lockdown at the moment, the end of the 21 days or so, is not going to see us return to our normal way of life immediately. Social distancing is going to be with us for a while, so although you might return to work, some meetings might still be via Zoom. You might be hesitant to go to the movies and still opt for Netflix. You might order your anniversary dinner from your favourite restaurant – to be delivered…
We are social beings and when Corona has left our shores or at least when we have some immunity to this terrible threat, we will hopefully return to our social ways. For some, from a personal or business perspective, Corona might have some positive outcomes, but we all need to realise that this is the perfect time and perfect place to learn – we have to focus on the takeaways.