When people were celebrating New Year’s Eve across the globe, no one expected that 2020 is going to be so deadly and terrifying. But still we are living in a time where most of the countries are under strict lockdown situation. Schools, colleges, theaters, shopping malls and restaurants are shutdown by the municipal governments in order to stop or at least contain the spread of coronavirus. If you are listening to news latterly, you know that coronavirus or COVID 19 is a highly contagious and fatal virus that was emerged from China back in December 2019. Initially only a few cases were reported and the affected people belonged to a specific city but soon after that, within couple of months, the virus spread to almost every country around the world and the nations were forced to take action. WHO declared it a pandemic and issued general guide lines for social distancing.
Schools and colleges were shutdown. Exams were postponed. Shopping malls, retail stores and businesses were closed for indefinite period of time. Only the pharmacies and hospitals were allowed to stay open. This lockdown started from China when they closed entire Hubei province to keep the virus contained. But ultimately, the entire country was under smart lockdown where manufacturers were asked to close the production plants and factories. This affected the supply and chain very badly. As soon the lockdown was announced, people across the globe started stacking essential items because no one was sure how far the lockdown might go. This high demand when combined with the low supply of production created a pandemic of its own where people couldn’t find the common household items i.e. toilet paper, hand sanitizer, food items, clothes etc.
Impact of COVID 19 on Conventional Businesses:
There is no doubt that COVID 19 has affected almost every business very badly. For instance, when China announced lockdown, production units and manufacturing plants were closed. Apple; a well known smart phone brand that has an assembly plant in China announced that they won’t be able to meet high demand of iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro in 2020 and ultimately sales went down up to 10% in the very first quarter. During lock down, not only that the businesses were closed but flights were cancelled and people weren’t allowed to go out unless they had an emergency.
This created less than usual demand of fuel and soon the world saw a situation that never happened before. Oil wells were working constantly but there was no consumption and they started expecting that soon there won’t be enough space to keep the pumped crude oil. Because of the lowest fuel demand, the price fall drastically and the nations that once had skyrocketing GDPs due to their oil export, were forced to ask for help from their neighbors.
Because people weren’t allowed to go outside or form a large group, the shopping malls, retail stores and restaurants and coffee shops and food trucks were also shut off. Right after the lockdown, the local governments realized that people need food to survive so they issued SOPs for the restaurants to open but only for take away. People weren’t allowed to dine-in in any restaurant or food truck. Retail shops of brands that once profited millions every month were so miserable that they couldn’t even pay the salaries of their employees and started laying people off.
Growth of online Businesses during lockdown:
Retails shops and shopping malls and brand outlets were and still doing so bad in sales because people are not genuinely afraid of catching this virus from an affected person so they try to stay home and only go out when it’s absolutely necessary. The only good thing that we see coming out of this COVID 19 situation is that people stayed home and spent time with their families and they realized how much they were missing while focusing only on their work and careers. Another benefit of coronavirus that was observed was the exponential growth in the online business. You see people weren’t allowed to go out and shop in retail stores but no one shutoff the online stores and shopping websites. These online shopping stores were allowed to deliver essential items across the globe.
Amazon, one of the biggest online business in the world announced that they would be delivering essential items to their customers on one day rush without extra charges. Soon the trend was followed by many restaurants and retails shows. These traditional businesses were shifted to online shopping stores and people got a little comfortable seeing that whatever they need, they can order online and get it delivered to their doorstep. Restaurants followed the same footsteps and created online websites where customers can order food and it can be delivered to their homes with some extra delivery charges. Multiple researches show that customers are still attracted to online shopping stores and there is a trend of ordering almost everything from internet. Recently, many countries evaluated the situation and softened the lockdowns were retail stores were allowed to open with SOPs but consumers seem to have developed this bubble of isolation where they don’t want to go out and can get whatever they want while staying at home.
How internet businesses can use COVID 19 to their benefit?
- Shift your customers to online business:
In order to cope with the COVID 19 situation and make up for the time when your business was shutoff, you should immediately create website and start selling your products or services online. Even if you haven’t done it, it’s never too late and the habit of ordering everything online that people have developed is not going anywhere.
- Provide extra services for communities:
While you are at it, you should think of serving local communities and your loyal customers in some other way. You can start donating money on every purchase for the homeless people or you can advise your customers that for every purchase they make, you will donate certain percentage of the profit for the local society.
- Create a smooth return process:
There is one thing that you should put your focus on. During the COVID 19 situation, people ordered in higher numbers but the return figures are also very high. Whether people didn’t like what they bought or they simply wanted to return the item and get their money back, online stores saw a sudden hike in the return figures. For your online business, there should be a well thought return policy so the customers know they can return if they don’t like what they bought.
- Expand your business to new regions:
When you create online platform for selling your products and services, you can certainly expand your business. Instead of staying a small domestic company, you can go international where you offer delivery to other countries as well. This will not only increase your sales but it can also help you get into new markets and regions of the world.
- Use online reviews to evaluate consumer behavior:
Online businesses also have the advantage of seeing the immediate response from the consumers. Most of the stores have the option for getting response from the customers and the customers can express their experience and feelings about the item they just purchased. With these comments and reviews, you can instantly find out which items are more popular, which items aren’t getting good response and if there is any problem that customers are facing.