The unexpected spread of COVID-19 has triggered unprecedented measures worldwide in order to deal with public health as best as possible. The shutdown in place since the end of March 2020 has forced many businesses to transform the way they operate. Some sectors have also been under the obligation to remain closed for much longer periods than others.
A lot of businesses however have adapted very quickly to the new normal. In the process, they have found alternative ways to trade online while confinement measures were in place.Photo By Jernej Furman via StockPholio.net
During the lockdown, many hardware shops, small garden centres and local nurseries for instance have been able to continue trading with a click & collect facility. A lot of small restaurants also started posting take-away menus online in tandem with a click & collect or a delivery system. Some pubs and small craft breweries did launch a pint or crate delivery system too.
Other local independent bookshops introduced selected bundles for instance on a daily or weekly basis. These new offers were then advertised on their respective Twitter or Facebook feeds.
Online shops remain open during lockdown
In all cases, the common denominator to these success stories has been
- An existing online presence
- An e-commerce section in the form of a virtual shop window which customers can browse at their leisure from home
- A shopping cart facility
What the new COVID-19 situation has highlighted for a large number of businesses is the importance of not only having a strong online presence, but also the option of accepting payments on their websites. In other words, many businesses have had to set up a basic e-commerce facility that – in many cases – did not exist before in order to continue trading.
New business models
In parallel, the disruption to traditional business practices under the lockdown rules has also revealed new potential avenues in terms of communication with customers and financial transactions.
Facetime, WhatsApp, Skype or Google hangouts are established video call software. But during the crisis, a web conferencing platform like Zoom emerged as a very easy way to communicate online – and for online group lessons!
In terms of banking, credit cards or PayPal are perceived as the traditional payment methods. But new players like Revolut also give online traders new options to complete sales online.
It now remains to be seen if the current disruptions to business rules will become the new normal post-COVID-19 once all lockdown rules are completely lifted.