Not too long ago, in our “pre-COVID-19” world, physical businesses and stores had the unprecedented advantage of getting to know their customers wants and needs in a completely undistracted environment, surrounded by the strong influence of their brand experience. This landscape has shifted swiftly and very dramatically. With many businesses being almost forced to go online overnight in order to survive, it has raised an interesting question. Is the future of retail beginning to challenge the divide between online transactions and offline ones? Is it possible eCommerce and digital transactions could replace in-person experiences completely?
In the past, our retail stores “dictated” how to make a purchase. If you think back to a time when people queued outside a store waiting to purchase a new release of a product.
The process went something like this:
This is a classic example of a retailer dictating to its consumers how to complete a purchase. While it is something we can probably all relate to, it is now a thing of the past.
Consumers are now dictating how they want to buy:
Could digital transactions really replace in-person experiences?
The answer to this ultimately boils down to consumer choice and as a consumer, you get to decide how you want to make that purchase or choice.
How can you apply this to your business?
In our new consumer environment, some businesses are going to need to have a more advanced online presence with things like shop pay and augmented reality so that customers can try things on, or place pieces of furniture in their homes.
Other brands are still going to need to have an amazing in-store experience, with knowledgeable staff, exceptional products, incredible music and fabulous art.
There is never going to be a one size fits all or a single “correct” answer.
What I do believe is that there is a resilient group of brands, businesses and entrepreneurs who are rethinking the way business is done, questioning old assumptions and pivoting and transforming their businesses to service a new era of consumers. They are looking through the customer-centric lens of “What are we selling?”, “How are we selling it?”, “How can we better serve and meet the needs of our customers?”
There is however another group of resistant businesses that are waiting for the pandemic to end so that they can go back to the status-quo. The question I pose to this group is whether the future will ever simply be business as usual again if the concept of what is “normal” is changing so rapidly. The risk of an existing business model becoming redundant is more prevalent than ever and I encourage business owners to take stock of what competitors are doing, what consumers are demanding and what can be done to keep a competitive edge.
Whether this pandemic lasts a few more weeks or a few more years, right now is possibly the greatest opportunity to rethink your business, taking a deep dive into understanding how your sell and how you interact with your consumers. This year may very well become one of the most important times in business. Now is the time to question whether you have an entrepreneurial mindset or business culture. Is your business resilient enough to seize the opportunities that COVID-19 has created and adapt? Rather than lamenting the situation, can you use this opportunity to pivot your business and thrive?
So, as we start the new year, question whether your business is resistant or resilient. If you enjoy lively conversation around business strategy and ideas and you have a thirst to pivot your business, please get in touch. We would love to engage with like-minded businesses. Our team of advisors are experts at helping small and medium sized businesses to transform, adapt and grow successfully.