Businesses are facing a great amount of uncertainty right now. Like myself, you’ve probably received a lot of emails from brands and companies lately. It is great to see Australian and New Zealand businesses keeping a positive attitude and dedicating time to keep their customers informed of changes as they happen. These businesses should be praised for their commitment, not only to their customers, but to their employees and communities too. What’s even better is seeing them implement new strategies to serve their customers and keep their business running through this health crisis, adapting to the changing way of life quickly and effectively. I’ll share some of these ideas with you today, and outline some ways you can continue to support local businesses during this time, without having to leave home.
The ‘We’ll Come To You’ Approach
We’ve been enjoying the convenience of the delivery economy for some time now. Social distancing will likely see more restaurants, pubs and cafes relying on take away orders as restrictions on gatherings tighten. Some businesses, including Crust Pizza are now offering No Contact Delivery options to reassure customers with health and safety concerns. Retailers are also stepping up their delivery approaches, offering Free delivery for customers who are unable to come instore, or would prefer to shop from the comfort of their home.
Expect to see innovative new approaches to meeting client needs with delivery in other industries over the coming weeks. For example, auto dealerships are introducing delivery options, so customers don’t have to visit the showroom. This idea extends to picking up and servicing cars, and returning them back to their owners. This limits the concern surrounding interactions they may have without disrupting the service they provide.
Taking Things Online
Businesses will need to be creative to find opportunities to deliver personal experiences to clients and customers. Even outside of the current context, digital technology can provide great benefits to businesses in the events and education industries, introducing greater scalability and control. In recent days, we have seen universities and colleges take lessons online, and many conferences have cancelled live events and hosted virtual versions instead.
One example of this comes from General Assembly who have temporarily closed their campuses and moved all in-person programming online. Being able to offer workshops and courses remotely is a big win for both the business and customers, minimising disruption for students. Social distancing measures have also seen gyms and fitness providers taking their classes online. Smart businesses are offering these services to their current members in place of in-studio services to prevent membership pauses or cancellations. It’s also a great time for businesses such as Yogaholics, who offer on-demand Yoga and Meditation classes, to entice new members through offers such as their 10-day free trial.
Video and VR Technologies
In this new world of social distancing and fear of infection, virtual and video technologies are providing great support so that essential business practices can continue. Could VR be the answer to dropping numbers at property inspections due to infection fears? Open homes from home may be the solution for this major challenge facing the real estate market in the weeks ahead. Even if your agency isn’t equipped for virtual tours, having agents film a walk-thru video is within the grasp of most businesses.
Partnering with Other Businesses
No doubt we’ve seen some deplorable examples of human behaviour in recent days (toilet paper hoarders – I’m looking at you!). This is a time where we have a responsibility to work together with suppliers, customers, employees and communities to find ways to keep businesses going. An opportunity to show a better side of human nature and national pride.
Travel bans, social distancing and behaviour change will continue to affect Australia and New Zealand in the coming months. This may require businesses to look for new partners or resources as current lines of supply are cut-off or unviable. Services which were being provided by overseas support (such as call centres) may now be brought back locally due to quarantine in other areas. Businesses may look to digital solutions for once traditional approaches to activities such as events and advertising. Whitelabel providers may be a good solution for businesses that, for whatever reason, are unable to meet their customers’ current needs. Supplies may need to be manufactured and sourced from new retailers. We are in this together – if one business is impacted, the ripple effect will be felt by many.
How You Can Help!
What can you, as a consumer, do to support local businesses during this time? Here are some ideas which you can do from home:
- Continue to shop from local businesses over the phone or online. Keep ordering from your favourite retailers and restaurants and take advantage of delivery or click-and-collect options they have available. If you have reservations or appointments you cannot make, try to reschedule them rather than cancelling outright, or opt for store-credit or a gift voucher you can use once things settle down.
- Leave a review! Make sure local businesses are still feeling your love by leaving them a positive review on Facebook or Google My Business. This will remind them how important they are to our community, and provide valuable credit to their online presence.
- Continue to engage with brands on social media. Like, share and comment on posts from small local businesses during this time. This will help expand the reach of their posts, so more people become aware of their products and services!
- Subscribe to e-newsletters and updates. You’ll be the first to know about sales, events and specials, and will be kept up-to-date on changing business practices during this uncertain time. Be sure to share the best promotions with your friends and family!
- Buy a gift card! You can cash it in later, but this helps businesses keep money coming in until things settle down.
- Continue to support your favourite musicians and performers. If you had tickets to a gig that has been cancelled, consider using some of your refund to buy merchandise or a live record to support the artist during this tough time. Initiatives such as I Lost My Gig Australia have also popped up, to help support the thousands of people working in these industries who are losing income.