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Who could have anticipated that the year 2020 would come and bring along a great deal of uncertainty for businesses worldwide? While some of us made out of last year's pandemic unharmed, a lot of people didn't. Needless to say, time goes on, and we need to start thinking about moving forward. This means coming up with new ways to conduct several activities while adapting to the new normal after COVID-19. People still require different goods and services to carry on with their lives. Hence, businesses need to reopen and begin operations, keeping in mind the aftermath of a pandemic.
During the pandemic, even the huge corporations funded by wealthy shareholders found it hard to pay the bills to keep functioning. They either had to close down entirely or reduce their size with the hope of expanding again after everything became normal. The small-scale shops hardly managed to keep the lights on as well. It is no secret that every business needs to incorporate new methods of doing things. For that, it is essential to be fully aware of what changed during the spread of the virus in 2020 to make decisions accordingly. Currently, the future of the commerce sector hangs in the balance but is a temporary setback that can turn favorable if adequate measures are taken.
As the outbreak of a dangerous virus occurred, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed the pandemic in the early months of 2020. According to the doctors, COVID-19 spread through human contact and had the following symptoms;
• Severe fever
• Sore throat
• Body pain
• Difficulty in breathing
• Loss of taste and smell
WHO issued guidelines for the people to follow in an attempt to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These instructions had to be strictly followed by everyone across the globe to avoid becoming a victim and exposing others around you to the dangers of a deadly virus. Here's what the people were asked to do by health experts;
• Wear a surgical mask to cover your nose and mouth properly.
• Stay indoors unless there's an emergency or you need to head out to get groceries. However, many people stocked up on necessities with as much as they could get their hands on.
• Keep a distance of at least six feet between you and another person while standing in a queue.
• Use hand sanitizer while coming inside the house.
• Avoid shaking hands with others as it could transfer the virus.
• Observe self-isolation for a total of 14 days (2 weeks) if you have been in contact with an infected individual.
As the global death rate due to COVID-19 grew exponentially, it became obvious that things would not get settled any time soon. Factories and companies started shutting down, and everything seemed to be going sideways. The unemployment rate increased drastically as many people lost their jobs, and economies became highly unstable. Meanwhile, those who could continue working remotely did so from the comfort of their home. Perhaps, the only positive outcome of last year's events is the extensive digitization of operations by businesses that could embrace such a possibility without difficulty.
For instance, the retail business owners decided to set up online stores to keep selling to buyers. They used internet banking and several other forums to complete transactions. Where did the goods come from? Many companies operated with leftover stock as the production factories closed during the spring of 2020. However, the manufacturing of the necessary products began soon, provided that all SOPs (standard operating procedure) were strictly followed.
A perfect example to give a detailed account of the digital shift during COVID-19 is the B2B trade industry. While the top b2b platforms were helping businesses in these difficult times, these firms also launched user-friendly mobile applications. This allowed the buyers and sellers to connect and trade efficiently, regardless of their location. There was a noticeable reduction in sales. But it didn't take long for the B2B platforms to get back on their feet because even in times of crisis, businesses managed to maintain good relations between consignee and consignor.
Although the businesses flourished gradually and various expansion plans had to be halted, there were no long-term effects. If anything, digitization opened a gateway to endless possibilities as not just B2B, but every type of firm saw its incredible potential. In today's era of the internet and technologically advanced devices, the digital adoption to run conglomerates seemed inevitable. The circumstances were not as pleasant, but the results will be fruitful indeed.
Each type of business is at a crossroads with varying obstacles. This means that they will have to take a unique set of approaches to fight their way back toward the journey of success. However, a few common challenges include;
Since the outbreak of the contagion known as COVID-19, nationwide lockdowns have been imposed. This had a huge impact on both the goods markets as well as the tertiary sector as businesses had to abide by the law and shut down. Now that we are transitioning towards a reopening phase, it is essential for every owner to decide the right time to resume. It is a very tough task that should not be taken too lightly. You cannot simply start conducting business activities because the government has allowed it. What are the chances that the customers will show up? It is vital to consider their sentiments regarding going out to shop in a world currently overcoming the effects of COVID-19. Failure to take such factors into account might lead you to reopen at the wrong time while risking useless spending of limited resources like working capital without incurring a sale.
Solution: One way to get yourself out of such an unpredictable situation is by studying the market as it opens. Seeing how customers, not necessarily your target audience, react to the reopening of businesses can give you an idea. Devise a strategy that clearly dictates a method of boosting revenues on online stores. Think of ways that can add safety to the in-person selling technique. This is most likely to make the prospective buyers feel valued, and they will prioritize your brand over the competitors.
Every business runs because of its healthy and skillful workforce. Bringing them back is going to take more than just order or request. Not only should they be willing to return, but they also need to follow the safety protocols. Even if an employee is willing to rejoin, he/she will be exposed to the dangers of the virus in transit to the office. Moreover, the daycares are not open yet, so many parents would not be able to come to work and leave their children unattended.
Solution: As complicated as this problem seems, the answer is quite straightforward. It is time to revise your leave policies and make a few important adjustments. There should be a ‘work from home’ option for anyone who does not feel safe coming to the office. In case an employee is affected or has symptoms of COVID-19, he/she should be given paid sick leave for at least a couple of weeks. Many companies are still hesitant to bring such policies into effect as they fear that workers might misuse them. What can you do to overcome this hurdle? For those working remotely, ask them to submit a report consisting of tasks they completed within office hours or monitor them through the laptop’s webcam. For those calling in sick, ask them to submit their medical reports once they are well.
This is an important point that every business needs to consider while planning to resume activities. It is vital for a company to follow the instructions given by the government and health organizations. Reopening as the world is recovering from a pandemic requires every business to invest a sufficient amount of capital to purchase masks, install plexiglass barriers, get thermometers, etc. You might also need to add more cash counters to limit the size of queues forming at the checkout. As far as hotels and restaurants are concerned, a contactless ordering system should be placed for customers’ safety. Many owners find it hard to bear these expenses, especially when they have suffered substantial irrecoverable losses in the previous year.
Solution: What does a business person do when they don’t have the required capital? An apparent way is to take out a loan, but it eventually needs to be returned with interest. There is a useful method around this situation, and it involves taking help from your customers. You can charge them extra for the protective equipment, but be transparent about such additions to their bills. It is wise to be forthcoming about the additional charges on a client’s receipt instead of shocking them. Explaining the actual reason without any deceptions makes the customers value and respect your brand. They are more likely to understand that the prices have only exceeded for their own safety than an unbelievable excuse or lie. Coronavirus affected everyone, so it is only right to get out of it together as a unit. Both the customers and businesses need to be cooperative to succeed in achieving their objectives.
If you think hard enough, there are numerous options for getting out of a problem. As a business person, coming up with improvisations and tackling issues with diligence are key requirements to succeed. It is the only way to make your company a prominent one in the market. Everyone wants to run a successful business with rising sales and profits, but not all are willing to face the real challenges head-on. There would not be a better chance for a business person to prove themselves and become a leader that others are inspired to follow.
It is said that the problem with incompetence is its inability to recognize itself. It is undeniable that the coronavirus outbreak brought bankruptcy and closure of many renowned corporations. However, it also proved to be a blessing in disguise. Those operating through a single shop and a restricted reach adapted to the era of digitization. This ultimately meant that they could cater to an audience that could not see them within the market before. Many small-scale and large-scale businesses have started to focus their resources on growing their online presence, making them a part of a larger, globalized market. The long-term benefits and prospects of such growth are not only favorable for a single company but entire economies.
Who could have anticipated that the year 2020 would come and bring along a great deal of uncertainty for businesses worldwide? While some of us made out of last year's pandemic unharmed, a lot of people didn't. Needless to say, time goes on, and we need to start thinking about moving forward. This means coming up with new ways to conduct several activities while adapting to the new normal after COVID-19.