In my last business blog, I talked about how you can make changes to grow your business during a downturn. Now unless you’ve lived under a rock for the past 12 months, you may have noticed that we are in a downturn at the moment. You can thank Covid for that. The other thing that has happened has been the dramatic acceleration of the digital revolution.
The digital revolution was always on its way. It had already been happening for a few years and had been gathering speed and momentum over about the past 5 years or so. Then Covid came along and everything had to change. Suddenly everything had to be done digitally because we couldn’t do it in person anymore. And pretty much every industry changed forever in a very short space of time.
So, what happens next? Once Covid is manageable and we aren’t in lockdowns anymore, business won’t go back to the way it was before the pandemic started. Those days are gone. Now is actually the right time to be making the adjustments to your business so that you can unlock with a whole new or improved digital side to what you do.
I’ve taken a look at 10 different industries to show the changes they may have to implement post Covid and to be more digital.
I could write an entire blog post on retail, and I probably will in a few weeks’ time. But I think we’ve all pretty much embraced online shopping now and I doubt there’s much going back for many. It’s up to retailers now to push their digital presence and make sure it’s super user friendly. Difficult apps and websites that are hard to navigate need to be dealt with quickly. Can I checkout in less than 3 clicks if I’m already registered? Are you filling up my inbox way more than is necessary? How much of your communication with me is tailored to my needs and usage of your app? I have no problem with targeted adverts but please stop showing me things that I’ve either already purchased from you or are out of stock!
Bricks and mortar retail is in big trouble. I might go for a wander whilst I’m out and about, but I think Saturday afternoons with packed high-streets and busy stores are consigned to history. High streets are going to have a lot of empty units to fill and not a lot of prospective tenants out there. I’m far more comfortable clicking away from home and a delivery showing up the next day. Even small and local independents are going to have to adapt to this. So long as the online experience is quick and efficient then it will thrive. It’s what today’s consumer demands (unfortunately).
Hands up if you’ve been on a date in the past 12 months with a new person? There won’t be many. I have a vested interest here given that I also own Great Dates, which for obvious reasons hasn’t done much business since March last year.
Since I started that business the main selling point has been leaning towards anti-swiping dating apps. I started it after some pretty rubbish dates and online experiences as a way for people to actually meet in person, in a safe and controlled environment. Will people still be willing to be in a room with a bunch of strangers and get up close and personal in the future? I honestly don’t know.
So, my own plan to make that business digital has been to create an online members area with video dating facilities. I haven’t launched it fully yet and I’m still sort of not happy with being compared to dating apps but it may be the way ahead. And complimented with events too for those happy to get out and about.
I don’t think I like the idea of a future dating world being all online. I think there’s a lot of hurdles and problems still to overcome with the already existing online dating world. But given the popularity of the likes of Tinder, Bumble etc, then we can presume that online dating is here to stay and video first dating may become the new normal.
Food (Takeaways and Supermarkets)
One thing we have done, especially in my house, is eat a lot more during lockdowns. And what I have noticed is how much the local takeaways have upped their delivery game.
From online food shopping to getting a meal delivered, these companies have also had to really up their game. I feel the future now lies in their speed of delivery. Do I want to wait a week for a supermarket food shop to be delivered? No. Two hours for a takeaway. Definitely not! There’s a takeaway near me that has amazing food but regularly takes 2-3 hours to deliver. Or cancels your order because they can’t cope with the volume of orders they get. I can also get a KFC delivered usually in less than 15 minutes and a Dominos in less than half an hour. If I’m hungry where will I go? It won’t be about cost; it will be about speed.
If I place my grocery order tonight when do I want it delivered? Tomorrow please. And whether it be Tesco or KFC, I want to do it all from my phone, with minimal checkout clicks and all hooked up to my reward points.
Even if I think really hard, I don’t think I can remember the last time I actually went into a bank. I’m actually not even overly sure where my local branch even is. And apart from some loose change that probably doesn’t even add up to a pound, I’ve no cash in my purse and I don’t know when I last had cash in there either. I received a cheque the other week and I didn’t even know they still existed! I could pay this into my account by scanning it on my phone directly into my online banking app.
Bank branches are closing all the time. The banks with good apps, that work and do what you need them to do, will continue to exist. There are new banks now that are solely online. No branches at all. Again, it’s all about speed and service for these. High street banks need to keep up.
Personal Services (Hair and Beauty)
Now obviously there’s no way you can get your hair cut or your nails done digitally. I’ve tried so you don’t have to. But I do think these kinds of services can also embrace digital in other ways. Video consultations so that your stylist knows what you want before you arrive for your appointment. Online advice for in between your nail appointments. Digital booking facilities. Online prepayment methods. I also think there will be a rise in people wanting home visit appointments to avoid busy or crowded salons. Out of hours services.
People are now used to swiping and clicking for most things. Their hair and nail appointments shouldn’t be any different.
Just like Personal Services, this is another industry that can’t go online only. Yes, pubs and restaurants have adapted to offer takeaways and delivery services, but the whole point of this entire industry is to leave your home to enjoy it.
But there are plenty of digital opportunities open to the hospitality industry. Online booking is a must. App based ordering from your table as well as payments. This all cuts down on staff interaction and speeds up service and table turnover time. A lot of establishments have tried this during the various reopenings, but I think it will increase in popularity and become the new normal when we go out for food and drink.
Hotels can embrace things like online check in and check out, app room service etc. We have to remember that people are getting out of the habit of picking up a phone to make a call to speak to a real person. The more interactions you can offer via an app or online service the better.
There are still people you need to allow into your home. Plumbers, electricians, cleaners etc. Being able to book these online is another time saver people want. Have you ever tried ringing a plumber?!?! Plus, as the service provider it frees up your time to actually get on with the job at hand rather than keep answering your phone.
Have you Zoomed your GP yet? If you haven’t already then chances are the next appointment you have may be online. Your Apple watch is capable of sending through your vitals and there will be apps on your phone collecting other useful data. Before we know it, our GPs will be contacting us to say we need an appointment because our phone has raised concerns with them.
Just please don’t Google your symptoms. You’ll be digitally dead before you get to the end of this blog post.
Fitness and Leisure
Good old Joe Wicks had us all (well some) of us doing PE at home during lockdowns. I sent in my note to be excused from that one. Gyms have had to adapt to being closed and retaining memberships by operating classes online. In future I can see gyms offering a visitor’s membership and an online only one. Not everyone wants to be in a sweaty environment with others anymore. At home fitness is the way ahead. And also, being able to take a class from home whenever you want rather than being confined to opening times that might not always fit in with our 24/7 schedules.
And last but not least my own industry. Us digital types have been embracing this moment for some years. It’s what we do. Unfortunately, the industry has also seen a huge influx of people that want to work in it. Because they’ve been using social media for a few years and now that know all there is to know. So, this one comes with a cautionary tale. If you are hiring someone to do your digital, then make sure they actually know what they are doing and understand that it’s not just a case of setting you up a Facebook page and posting some random crap a few times a week.
There’s actual strategy involved.
Ensure that all your platforms and online presence line up. There’s no point in posting the same content on every platform in the same format and expecting it to go viral. You need to know what each platform wants and likes and what your audiences there want and like to engage with.
For example, when I post on Twitter about what I am watching on the tv or maybe something to do with politics that day, I get engagement. If I posted that to Instagram then I’d get tumbleweed. If I post an outfit photo to Insta about what a busy female entrepreneur wears to create a good impression in meetings, that gets loads of engagement. Not always the right type, but it gets the engagement. If I posted that to Twitter, nobody would give it a second look. If I posted it to Facebook it would be 50/50 how it goes.
However, by figuring out my audience I can engage with them where and how they like with exactly what they like.
The Digital Revolution
So, the revolution has arrived. The digital one that is. What changes will you make to your business to make sure you keep up? How are you personally embracing the new all things digital way of life? But most importantly, have you figured out how to change to clock on the over?