Social distancing requires companies to close their physical locations, often making online the only viable sales channel for many companies. For the service industry and for B2B sales, teams have quickly moved to remote sales calls via digital solutions.
While some companies are forced to set up a direct online distribution model overnight, others are facing the scale up challenge of the century. Sometimes with growth rates of 400% and beyond, like online delivery, groceries and drugstores.
In between these two extremes, we find the service industry that is finally experiencing a significant growth of online advice and sales. For example for mortgages, brokerage and sustainability advice. At this point in time, everyone will welcome a virtual consultation. So, wherever companies find themselves on the digital sales curve, now is the time to seriously accelerate and enhance digital operations. Even companies already considering themselves digital frontrunners should watch their competition closely as they are expected to take a giant leap forward.
Traditional supermarkets, as well as online grocers, are using this situation to accelerate their efforts to boost online grocery shopping. The current crisis produced a sudden surge of newcomers, making supermarkets’ aim to retain as many of these customers as possible once we recover.
Especially fast moving consumer goods companies have joined forces and started the production of completely new product lines to tap into the shortage of goods like hand sanitizer, face masks and protective clothes.
Hotels, who master the art of feeling at home while being away from home, are transforming hotel rooms into safe and tranquil temporary workspaces while offices and schools are closed.
Producers of beauty and personal care products, that normally distribute via their own channels or work with selected retailers, temporarily partner with regular supermarkets and pharmacies to reinforce the continuity of their businesses and grow brand awareness in times of crisis.
Food wholesalers that normally serve restaurants and hotels are tapping into a new customer base by experimenting with B2C sales, tapping into a market that normally is unavailable to them.
In a time of health and economic distress, it is challenging to invest in new product development and innovation. A crisis elicits the creation of strategies around bundling and unbundling, pricing models, value proposition for existing customer segments, and other straightforward but important strategies to extract value from existing product portfolios.
However, when business models are under pressure and customer needs are shifting, innovation should be a key priority. We have already seen incredible initiatives that require creativity, agility and new partnerships to offer direct relief during the crisis.
Ranging from beauty companies and premium designers producing hand sanitizer and facemasks to snorkel masks being transformed into protective masks for doctors and nurses. On the other hand, we see new propositions are being created to keep the business running. Hotels offering workspace, star restaurants offering delivery menus and beauty salons selling DIY kits online. Yet, we must think beyond the current situation as the bigger question is: what will the new normal be once we recover? Who will be our customers and how do we create significant value in a changed society? Whatever ‘the new normal’ is, it will require more innovation than we can ever imagine.
Use the current digital momentum and think beyond the current quarter. Now is the time to convince the laggards to maximally embrace your digital sales channels.
Depending on your current business model, now is the time to experiment with different sales channels. Direct sellers might experiment with third party sales channels and vice versa. Make use of this period to pilot alternatives. Your experiments might stick around!
We are in this together and many companies are more open than ever to join forces and offer support in these challenging times. For some this creates new revenue streams, for others it is an act of kindness and/or for branding purposes. Look out for possible partnerships with competitors within your sector, or beyond.
Experiment with reaching different markets, sectors or customer segments. How could you tap into markets were demand currently exceeds supply? For example, look at the B2C market as a B2B-oriented business company, as it can offer surprising opportunities.
The market situation and customer needs are changing which requires new value proposition to address these needs. Review your assets and competences and think about how they could create value in completely different ways. Take your purpose and values as a starting point and get creative.
EY VODW’s methodologies and tools are well suited for remote, virtual projects, while maintaining our customer centric and agile approach.
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