How will consumer behaviour change your business after the coronavirus pandemic? These real-time insights provide some clues for small business owners.
As scores of small businesses face shifts in consumer behaviour due to COVID-19 (coronavirus) there’s never been a better – or more important – time to consider pivoting your model, offerings or services to suit the ever-changing world. While many aspects of our lives remain in flux during times of crisis, there are a few emerging trends expected to outlast the pandemic that could alter your company – for the better.
Here are six ways your business might change as a result of the COVID-19 impact.
1. A (bigger) push for online services
With national isolation measures leading to consumers spending more time at home, it’s unsurprising that e-commerce has experienced a significant bump. Recent data shows that sectors such as online retail, food home delivery and pet services have soared despite a general decline in discretionary spending1.
But this isn’t necessarily due to COVID-19, say experts; rather than being the direct result of reduced face-to-face dealings, it’s more indicative of a growing appetite for shopping online and an evolving trust that Australians are placing in online-focused businesses. Companies that are flexible in their future offerings, especially with the integration of online sales and services, are expected to fare far better post-coronavirus2.
2. More localised production
Pre-coronavirus, Australia had a strong import and export relationship with China; in 2018, for example, imports from China topped $21 billion3. Now that supply chains, manufacturing schedules and delivery times have been compromised by widespread shutdowns, local businesses can use the opportunity to explore production. More than 90% of Australians aged 14 and over said they were more likely to buy products made at home, according to Roy Morgan findings4 before the pandemic, and this trend has gained momentum with coronavirus.
3. A move to mapping the supply chain in detail
Local businesses in Australia are expected to lose 10% of revenue as a result of coronavirus-related supply chain delays5. Experts say that companies who employ supply chain mapping – a detailed knowledge of the supply chain at every tier – are emerging as the most successful in terms of weathering supply chain hiccups inflicted by coronavirus delays6.
Taking a closer look at your supply chain beyond the first tier might help prevent costly delays in the future and it could be an opportunity to make your offerings faster, more efficient and more accurate7.
4. A permanent switch in payment types
We were already on our way to becoming a cashless society. The pandemic and social distancing have led to an even more widespread adoption of cashless payments. So it makes sense for bricks-and-mortars to consider more seamless ways to integrate digital payments both in online and offline offerings of the business.
The goal is to minimise the obstacles your customers must overcome to reach the end point of sale. For example, small, portable card readers are now extremely popular and ideal if you’re in hospitality or frequently change premises, such as market stalls and pop-ups.
5. An increase in wellness in the workplace
The quick shift to entire companies working from home has led to a desire to address any possible adverse effects, including anxiety, disconnection and low employee morale8. As such, investing in workplace wellness will become even more important for businesses striving to increase employee retention and reduce absenteeism, which costs the Australian economy approximately $35 billion per year9. That’s a saving any business could benefit from.
6. A shift to a full-service model
While bricks-and-mortar stores aren’t expected to completely collapse, the survival of retail brands will depend on a cohesive physical and digital offering, say experts10. There’s still interest in spending – retail sales in Australia rose by 8.5% in the month of March alone11 – but shoppers may take time to feel comfortable in physical stores again. Add to that March figures for ecommerce sales showed a 5.6% rise on a month-on-month seasonally adjusted basis12 means retail businesses might want to look at expanding their e-commerce offerings in line with the increases in online shopping.
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1 AlphaBeta Australia: COVID-19 economic impact
2 KPMG: COVID-19: Retail’s survival and revival
3 Asialink Business: China’s Imports and Exports
4 Roy Morgan: Aussies give stamp of approval to Australian-made goods
5 PWC: The coronavirus disrupts supply chains, ratcheting up the pressure on global businesses as the US-China trade tension cools
6 Harvard Business Review: Coronavirus Is a Wake-Up Call for Supply Chain Management
7 McKinsey and Company: Supply Chain 4.0 – the next-generation digital supply chain
8 Forbes: 5 Predictions About How Coronavirus Will Change The Future Of Work
9 Direct Health Solutions: 2019 Absenteeism Survey Results
10 Fortune: The retailers that are smartest about shopping tech will finish on top after the coronavirus
11 Australian Bureau of Statistics: Retail trade, March 2020
12 Savings.com.au: Coronavirus drives record growth for retail sales in March