As you may be aware, the Coronavirus outbreak, also known as Covid-19, has become a global pandemic that isn’t only having a huge impact on individuals all around the world, but on our businesses too. These are extremely challenging and unprecedented times, as the war against the virus continues to disrupt global supply chains and financial markets. While many businesses will be gauging the full impact of Covid-19, our reactions to this outbreak could contribute to whether or not we slide into a recession.
Many businesses have made announcements since the pandemic, such as Apple, Microsoft, and Mastercard. This gives us an insight as to how the virus is affecting consumer behaviour and business sentiment.
Apple Inc is a global phenomenon, with its innovative and stunning designs in the form of smartphones, smartwatches, tablets and more. Apple generates around 15% of its revenue from China, with many of their products being manufactured there too. Here’s what they said in a statement:
“Work is starting to resume around the country, but we are experiencing a slower return to normal conditions than we had anticipated”
Many companies, however, have expressed hope and optimism in regard to governments being able to stop the spread of the virus. And in return consumer spending won’t take that much of a hit. Of course, this differs from business to business and industry to industry. The World Health Organisation stated in its message regarding the outbreak that governments, businesses, and individuals still have the ability to change the disease’s trajectory.
We understand how crucial this time is for businesses, which is why we’ve designed this article to provide a new, hopeful perspective for business owners and leaders who are currently unsure of what actions to take and how to turn this situation around in favour of your business.
What Industries Are Most Affected By Covid-19?
Travel is among the hardest-hitting industry during the pandemic. Governments across the globe have introduced new travel restrictions in order to slow down and reduce the spread of the virus, which means airlines have no choice but to cut flights and travellers have no choice but to cancel their trips and holidays. Over 100 countries have now implemented travel ban restrictions.
Food & Hospitality
For the UK, the hospitality industry has taken another large hit and could face thousands of closures and thousands of individuals with no jobs.
Chief executive of trade association hospitality UK, Kate Nicholls, has said the announcement made by Prime Minister Boris Johnson advising Brits to close down pubs, restaurants, and hotels is ‘catastrophic for businesses and jobs’.
“Over the past few weeks, the industry has suffered unprecedented drops in visits and many businesses are already on their knees. This latest advice leaves the industry in limbo, with no recourse to insurance. The government must act now to stop them from going under and protect the people’s jobs.”
Within the construction industry, the focus was to try and keep critical construction project operations open. However, with the rapid growth of Covid-19 and urgent measures being taken, this is likely to change in the next few weeks. On-site construction roles will be directly affected, however, Build UK and CECA members are already taking necessary action and safety precautions.
Manufacturing & Automotive
Hyundai was one of the first real casualties of Covid-19. It was forced to close multiple car plants in South Korea because of part shortages and little demand. As China is now in the early stage of its recovery from the virus, various factories are re-opening. A report from McKinsey suggests that businesses in Hubei are back running to 90% capacity, and the trucking capacity to ship goods from factories to ports is an estimated 60% to 80%.
Honda, BMW, Toyota, and Jaguar Land Rover, the UK’s largest auto firm, have now halted European operations.
Many retailers have now temporarily closed their doors in response to advice from the government. Popular global brands such as Nike, Urban Outfitters, Primark, and Glossier have followed suit, and in many cases, employees are being paid for lost shifts. Working policies have also been updated due to the Coronavirus, with Starbucks in the US implementing ‘catastrophe pay’ to its employees. This means the coffee brand will pay staff for up to 14 days if they have been in close contact with someone who has the virus, or if they’re diagnosed.
Small Local Businesses & The Coronavirus Crisis
While working from home and social distancing helps us limit the spread of the virus, it also poses a serious threat to small local businesses. The industries that have suddenly taken a nosedive are ones that rely on customers walking through the door. With many retail shops, restaurants, and offices now empty, it’s no surprise many business owners consider unavoidable staffing cutbacks and wage cuts.
There are ways customers can help small businesses stay afloat during this pandemic, and ways business owners can thrive simply by exploring different marketing methods and ways in which to reach customers.
“The impact of COVID-19 on small businesses requires the support of a nation,” said Kabbage co-founder and CEO Rob Frohwein. “If there is a local small business that you love, they need your patronage now more than ever. Many businesses are closing, and others are seeing reduced demand.”
For Local Customers:
Purchase gift cards – While many shops remain closed, you can still help local businesses by purchasing gift cards and using it online (if possible), or simply save it for a later date.
Tip generously – Although this is the time to save pennies, local businesses are ones that will suffer the most, so if you can spare a bit of extra charge for a tip, don’t hesitate to.
Leave good reviews – Good reviews don’t go unnoticed, especially at a time like this. If you’ve recently used a service or purchased a product, let the company know about your positive experience.
Shop locally – Use your local retailers before you decide to clear the shelves at your nearest supermarket.
For Local Businesses:
Clear message – State a clear message surrounding what you’re doing in regard to the outbreak of the virus. This not only builds trust but reduces customers panic, anxiety and stress levels.
Discounts – Offering discounts engages and converts customers more, in-store and online.
Take it online – With many things accessible to purchase online, it’s never been easier or more convenient to offer your services or products online. This way consumers do not have to visit your office, or your store.
Delivery – Offering delivery is a popular solution for many food and retail outlets.
Collection – Be strategic and rather than close altogether, offer collection as a delivery method. You can put health and safety procedures in place to make customers feel more at ease. E.g. delivery partner wearing protective equipment such as gloves and using hand sanitiser.
Isolation time – If you have to self-isolate and therefore close your doors, use your self-isolation time wisely. Your competitors may take their foot off the accelerator.
Support – Support your local communities, hospitals, and charities. Amplify this on your website and social channels to showcase support and generosity. This also promotes others to do the same.
Utilise other marketing channels – There is a vast range of channels to take advantage of if you do not have the resource to put into your website. Facebook marketing can boost your brand awareness and exposure, and email marketing is extremely effective in B2B marketing.
Ecommerce Businesses & The Coronavirus Crisis
As many users are now avoiding going to stores as there is a higher risk of infection, the world of online shopping has additional benefits, such as bigger discounts and longer delivery windows. For many eCommerce businesses, they’ll see a rapid expansion during the outbreak, and a much higher demand thanks to changing consumer behaviour.
With predictions that the digital side of retail businesses will grow at a faster pace, it’s also a challenging time for businesses to react and find viable, effective solutions to meet customer needs and demand. While some eCommerce businesses are more likely to survive the global pandemic and come out stronger and more stable, there are industries online that could suffer. As construction and automotive industries have taken a hit already, online stores are likely to follow the same path.
There are ways, however, for customers to help low performing eCommerce businesses during a crisis. And for business owners, there are strategies you can adapt and enhance in order to drive more customers and sales.
For Ecommerce Customers:
E-gift cards – E-gift cards are ideal as gifts and with stricter lockdown restrictions being put in place, we’re going to be surfing the internet a lot more than before.
Recommendations – If you aren’t currently in a position to help an eCommerce business, be sure to recommend them to friends, family and share on your social platforms to increase the brand’s exposure online.
Click & Collect – Where possible, use click and collect rather than delivery. This is a time where online businesses will experience overwhelming volumes of orders and delivery partners might not be able to meet the demand as quickly.
Special Offers – Take advantage of special offers and discounts. Many online businesses will now offer a generous discount for new customers.
For Ecommerce Businesses:
Clear message – For any business right now, it’s imperative that you give your customers a clear message of actions and safety procedures you are taking during this event. Have health and safety procedures been put into place for your delivery partners and suppliers? Are you putting customers’ needs first?
Discounts & Offers – Introduce special offers for existing customers, as well as a welcome discount of £5 or more for new customers.
Stock management – Where demand is high, let’s use online supermarkets as an example, it’s important to closely monitor and manage your stock. Without stock, you’ll have no sales.
Extended refund policy – Many online retailers are taking this approach to help customers during this trying time.
Delayed payments – Another approach to helping customers. If you offer finance on some of your products and you’re in a position to implement a ‘Get a new mattress now, pay nothing until June’.
Expand delivery windows – Many customers would prefer quicker delivery times, especially at a time like this. If this is something you can offer, it can effectively build and grow your brand even further by setting you apart from competitors.
A List Of Companies Giving Back
LinkedIn has opened up 16 of it’s learning courses for FREE. These are courses that help provide tips and insights on how to stay productive and build relationships when you’re not face to face, how to use virtual meeting tools and balance work/family dynamics in a healthy way.
Uber Eats has waived commission fees for independent restaurant partners.
Amazon has created a $25M fund to help it’s delivery drivers and seasonal workers during the Coronavirus pandemic.
LVMH is using its perfume and cosmetic factories to make hand sanitiser Jamm is an audiovisual communication tool mostly used by remote and distributed teams. They are offering this free of charge.
Delta’s CEO is forgoing his salary for 6 months to try and diminish layoffs.
Free Digital Marketing Advice
We understand the severity of difficulty for businesses during this time, which is why we are offering free consultations and strategic advice so we can help you and your business. We specialise in crafting tailored digital marketing strategies to help businesses overcome setbacks. Whether you’re a small, local business looking for ways to attract more customers or an eCommerce business that wants to maximise performance, request a callback or get in touch with us for more information.
Lastly, we’d like to express our gratitude to the NHS, and healthcare workers that are currently on the front lines tackling this virus. Whether you’re self-isolating, social distancing and working from home, don’t forget we’re all in this together, and we can get through this difficult time stronger together too.