The coronavirus pandemic has upended many traditional aspects of commerce and business. People all over the world are working from home rather than going to the office and sanitation practices have also been upgraded at many business places. Suffice it to say, there are a lot of things changing in the business landscape. It appears that a ‘new normal’ has been established amongst businesses of all sizes and across almost all industries, with changes expected to endure even when COVID-19 becomes a thing of the past. There are some business trends that have been inspired by the pandemic and there is a good chance that they will stay long after it is gone.
What are these? Israel Figa shares some of the prominent ones here:
Contactless and cashless commerce
There are some businesses that are still interacting with clients face-to-face, such as in stores and restaurants. Therefore, they have had to implement some changes for reducing their contact with customers as much as possible. As per Israel Figa, one of the biggest ways it can be done is to eliminate cash transactions and to opt for credit cards or digital payments. There are a lot of businesses that have gone cash-free and have asked their clientele to use apps or websites for placing their orders. A lot of independent restaurants have also opted for cashless transactions for safety reasons. A number of stores have also incorporated contactless pickup and delivery services, and there is a possibility that this level of safety and convenience will remain popular in the long run.
For years, people have bought goods from online retailers, including some big names like Walmart and Amazon. Plus, small shops have also sold their products through platforms like eBay and Etsy. During the coronavirus pandemic, this e-commerce trend appears to have intensified because a lot of the non-essential and traditional stores were closed down and people didn’t really feel comfortable in going out for making their purchases.
With more and more consumers adjusting to the convenience that ecommerce has to offer, Israel Figa suggests that many will not want to go back to visiting crowded stores again. The accelerating ecommerce trend also includes local shops shifting online to compensate for their lost in-person sales and also for reaching out to their non-local customers.
As majority of the people are working from home or spending more time indoors, it doesn’t come off as a surprise that there is a huge demand for delivery workers. According to Israel Figa, grocery stores, restaurants and retailers are all hiring local delivery drivers for making shopping simple and safe for their clients. As a matter of fact, a lot of industries that you couldn’t have imagined shifting to delivery have also done so, such as custom-made cocktails or car shopping. All of this is likely to bring about a future that will have more delivery options and chances are that nearly all consumer-facing businesses will add delivery to their services.
Due to automation, the use of robots in factories and workplaces had already seemed to be inevitable in the long run. However, now robotics are gaining a lot of popularity and it is because these robots can help in filling out the worker gaps and they don’t get sick. Some great examples of popular robots that have been introduced include mobile machines that can be used for disinfecting and cleaning and drones that can be used for making deliveries. Dr. Israel Figa says that this is just scratching the surface of where they will end up in a couple of years.
Currently, most of the automation equipment is used for replacing manual labor in simple and repetitive processes, but collaborative robots are expected in the future. These will be used for participating in complex processes.
Even though companies have been making investments in technology for years, Israel Figa says that many have been pushed into investing more into cybersecurity, cloud and IT in order to support a fully remote workforce. Moreover, tech transformation is not just limited to supporting remote employees with tech like productivity software and video calling. From a technology standpoint, the level of business transformation that will be seen in the next couple of months will be unparalleled to any other time.
A lot of in-person events had to be postponed or cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic, but there has been an increase in virtual events. Many large companies that canceled events opted to go virtual for filling the gap. While it is possible that some of the biggest events may still take place, Dr. Israel Figa believes that their virtual counterparts will probably exist down the road as well. Furthermore, small companies that have built out best practices and infrastructure for hosting their own online events are expected to keep them in place for reaching customers online, even after the pandemic is done with.
Since majority of the people are working from home, one of the most vital tools for meetings and for keeping employees connected are video conferencing tools. Israel Figa says that we shouldn’t expect these services to go anywhere, even when COVID-19 comes to an end, because these tools are now being incorporated in the normal workflow. As a matter of fact, they can actually help in cutting down the travel time between meetings and can also reduce cost. Small businesses have also adopted webinars and video calls as a customer retention tool.
Clean businesses have always attracted clients, but in this pandemic, it has become more essential than ever. Dr. Israel Figa says that sanitation will remain a major part of the conversation in the future as well and industries like travel industries and hospitality will have to put in an effort to deliver a clean experience.
These are some of the business trends that Israel Figa says will stick around, even after vaccines are rolled out and the pandemic comes to an end.