When challenges bring a change in direction

Covid-19 changed the direction of numerous businesses within a matter of weeks, even days. For many it has brought endless challenges, while, for others, opportunity

Many business models change and evolve over the years, sometimes as a result of a shift in the marketplace and, usually, after a fair amount of research and consideration. In 2020, Covid-19 changed the direction of numerous businesses within a matter of weeks, even days. For many it has brought endless challenges, while, for others, opportunity.

According to a survey conducted by the Institute of Directors (IoD), the lockdowns caused lasting changes to the way UK companies operate. In a survey of hundreds of business leaders, four out of ten said their organisation had made adjustments that they intend to keep in place. Increased working from home and a greater focus on digital services were common actions directors expected to continue in the long term.

Businesses have been innovating in response to Covid-19, with almost one in six of those polled reporting that they had launched a new product or service due to the circumstances. The majority of these were related to the country’s medical response, from producing hand gel to procuring PPE.

The survey showed that 39% of businesses have ‘made changes to enable us to continue our existing products/services that we intend to continue after lockdown ends’, while 9% have ‘adapted to provide a different product/service, specifically related to the medical response to coronavirus’.

Edwin Morgan, Director of Policy at the Institute of Directors, said: “The coronavirus crisis is throwing up colossal challenges for business, but directors are nothing if not adaptable. Lockdown means few businesses can operate as they used to and, as a result, many companies are finding a way to innovate through the obstacles. The solutions they create might just end up becoming the new normal.”

The Internet is now full of stories about craft gin makers turning their production over to making hand sanitiser and double-glazing companies, for example, crafting safety visors.

For some businesses, the challenges of Covid-19 have seen them having to sell to and communicate with a completely difficult audience.

For example, vegetable suppliers which had been exclusively dealing with hotels and restaurants saw their customer base disappear overnight. At the same time, the public – and not just those in isolation - were on the look-out for companies which could deliver to their doorstep.

For businesses like these many things will have changed – they are having to make smaller deliveries and more stops, as well as even having to alter the language they use. We heard of one story where a customer asked for a bag of baby spinach as part of their order. The delivery driver arrived and explained that the bag of ‘pousse’ they ordered was in the box. There was then confusion as the customer wondered where their baby spinach was. The delivery driver had to explain that the chefs they usually dealt directly with would never refer to this particular leafy vegetable as baby spinach, but by its French name…

The fact that some businesses have found themselves moving from a B2B model to B2C in a matter of weeks has had a knock-on effect on their marketing. As mentioned, they may have to adapt the language they use. They are also having to update or launch new websites for ordering and are probably expected to more present on social media than they were before – as customers look for a Facebook page or perhaps an Instagram account.

In addition, as there is less face to face contact now, where consumers would gain trust in a business by walking into their shop and talking to the shop keeper, companies new to making doorstep deliveries will need to create that trust through friendly social media accounts. Being on these platforms is also a way to gain some positive reviews, which always help to encourage potential consumers to buy.

Businesses which find themselves now working more in the B2C market are also having to take a look at their websites to make them more user friendly. Using the vegetable supplier example again, if a hotel wanted to order some vegetables, they would want an easy to use website to place an order. Arguably, setting out pricing might not be as key, as they’d probably ‘negotiate’ a deal for buying in bulk and the vegetable company would probably have different prices for different clients, depending on the size of the order or the number of restaurants, for example.

A member of the public will want to know absolutely how much a bag of spinach is going to cost them. They will also want the website to offer a more ‘friendly’ feel and perhaps even some recipe ideas for some more seasonal or lesser know vegetables.

The challenge moving forward for such suppliers is what happens when their traditional customers come back online. Do they revert back to their B2B business model or stick with B2C or, alternatively, find a way to service them both?

If you want to find out more about adapting your website to appeal to new customers or clients, then give our team at Lake Solutions a call.

 

Article Details

Ian Jepp
01 June 2020