Covid-19 Lockdown - Business Update
Six weeks from our last update, the short term future is starting to become a little clearer in terms of marketing and commerce - it is not quite business as usual, but most certainly there is business to be done - albeit in a slightly different way.
The strategy of continuing to communicate, be open and welcoming for customers has most certainly paid off through the initial lock down phase, although it’s required considerable readjustment to the way we all work.
Despite the difficulties that the current situation presents for business, we can really start to pull out positives from recent weeks that should be helping to shape strategy for the short and medium term. These now need interlinking with marketing plans and swiftly.
Communication has shifted online
More people than ever imaginable are working from home - communication has, as a result moved online at the same rate. We have all seen a wide range of people, young and old using online video services and chat so that they can speak to or ‘see’ a real person. Business meetings have moved to spare bedrooms, home offices and the kitchen table.
People have been forced to adopt new technology and this should be considered a great opportunity for businesses that are prepared to engage using these same methods to meet new customers, schedule a meeting with existing clients or offer personal customer service. The old adage of picking up the phone has just grown up. Now - “here is a zoom link, let’s hop on a quick call” is the new norm. Embrace it - this is an opportunity to engage and communicate with your customers on a more personal level.
That weekly trip to the supermarket and interaction with people is for many, the most nerve-wracking of experiences. Any pleasurable part of shopping has gone and you are left standing in a line, avoiding other people, rushing round a store, standing in line again at the checkout, cleansing shopping and in a fit of paranoia, washing yourself, your clothes and probably even the cat if it went near your shopping bag.
Online shopping is a welcome alternative, even for those that traditionally preferred bricks and mortar. There are new online shoppers now to cater for, they may have seldom been an e-commerce purchaser of the past, but now an entire generation of over 70’s are sat at home and will be for some time. Again, this presents a massive opportunity for online retailers that focus on customer experience, providing a simple and pleasurable shopping experience with readily-consumable information and resources.
Information and answers
Niche retailers are ahead of the game here, but even they face a new challenge. No longer can we assume an online purchaser may have already tried something on in-store and is now simply finding the best deal online. The digital shopping experience is start to finish - this means information in digestible chunks and careful consideration of the purchasing process. Video is king - if customers can not go out to touch and see, video is the best way to demonstrate a product and to make a product tactile in the digital world.
Casual, informative and reassuring should be the tone. What are the most common questions, can they be headed off in video - offer a personal touch, one to one consultations, showing key features etc
All clients should now be working on communicating a clear policy about how their staff, products and services are protected. Moving on from “we are here and working from home“ to “this is how we operate, and why we do this to keep you and us safe”. Business as close to normal as possible, whilst managing expectations for time scales etc
The Future, Flygskam?
A grand statement but there is a chance that the world may change for ever. The Swedes have already introduced a word for being ashamed to fly - Flygskam - and it is likely that we will all be encouraged to embrace this opportunity to actually change the habits of a lifetime, not just feel guilty, but act.
For some businesses owners this is an opportunity to keep things local, really push those credentials and say hang on - we are on your doorstep - here, now and ready. For others supply chains are interrupted - interruption leads to opportunity and invention.
We are already working with some clients on new product launches and whilst people are going to be tied to home for a while yet, there has never been a better time to reach them. Content is being consumed faster than it can be made - brands that move quickly and decisively are benefiting.
Since the lockdown we have launched brand new websites and digital platforms for eight clients, spanning multiple industries both B2C and B2B offering physical products as well as services. We continue to do this by being agile and working with our two key web platforms that are quick to deploy, with enterprise grade software backed by strong support teams in the UK and Germany.
We remain firmly of the view that now is the time when you have to be at the forefront, thinking ahead, embracing change and not getting left behind.