E-commerce insights

Case studies: How companies have adapted to covid-19

There’s no doubt that if you’re reading this, you have most definitely heard of COVID-19 or the coronavirus that has been sweeping the globe over the past few weeks. What’s become interesting to witness is how different industries and businesses can adapt or change their current operations or structure in the face of the pandemic. This article will highlight different approaches that businesses small and big have taken. While we’re aware that we’re currently facing unprecedented circumstances, we can learn a thing or two about how to act in the face of a crisis, regardless of the size of your brand or business.

Common Threads

The most common actions that most businesses have taken instinctively is to closely monitor the development of the coronavirus, and follow orders and advice from national authorities and international bodies. This is a no-brainer and could be considered mandatory for all business owners and staff members alike – taking precautions to protect the health and safety of employees is a human approach, and will likely have effects on limiting the spread of the virus.

Another mandatory element is transparency. This includes openness and honesty about business operations to staff, stakeholders and customers alike – there’s no use trying to pretend like you aren’t being affected during a global lockdown situation. At the very least, you owe it to those who have invested resources into your company – regardless of if they are labour-intensive or capital-rich. This is more prevalent now than ever before, as economies around the world were already in recessive states prior to the spread of the disease – so jobs and income could certainly be at risk.

Support your customers: Ericsson

Ericsson, a Swedish mobile and internet network provider, has seen drastic shifts in global traffic as a result of COVID-19. This is seen in the form in data and voice traffic shifting from city districts to residential and suburban areas, as there is little mobility between cities at present. Mobile call volumes have also increased, as well as video calls and video conferencing tools.

To support their customers, Ericsson is continuing to communicate to their customers that they recognise the critical status of network infrastructure, and are actively trying to allow customers to maximise their network capacity and performance levels. To do this, engineers and field staff are allowed to continue working in order to maintain the active status of Ericsson’s networks. In addition, Ericsson predicts that they are on track to meet their Q2 goals for the year and will continue to provide increased service to their customers. Ericsson’s Group Crisis Management Council was responsible for making these decisions and allowing progress to continue..

It makes sense that as a large global corporation that is providing essential infrastructure for remote working and communication between global citizens, service can continue in a different capacity.

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Keep communicating: Digital agencies

It’s important to remember that businesses of all sizes are affected, including smaller businesses that do not have a group leader to make decisions for them. Agencies, while being able to work from home, have seen numerous projects being put on hold – although business must carry on, because the financial losses are too high to allow any members to stop working. With this comes the challenge of not only working remotely with your colleagues, but pitching to clients in a virtual space, too. This means that videoconferencing and team-based platforms are more essential than ever – such as Zoom or Google Hangouts- although certain workers may face a situation where a client prefers a specific platform. 

The first takeaway from this industry is to get familiar with specific software in advance, and chat to your team with WhatsApp to resolve any troubleshooting that might be needed. Knowing when to mute yourself and when to present your pitch could mean the difference between scoring a client or not.

The second thing to learn from digital agencies who are operating remotely is that business  conversation is vital. Businesses must continue to communicate and create new content to signify that they’re still thinking about and care for their customers and staff, despite remote working situations. This means that content marketing is going to become  more popular, especially on social media platforms.

The third and final lesson we can take from the digital marketing sphere is to continue to evolve your business’ culture. It’s important to know how to support your colleagues or staff, and know when to reassure people so that they don’t feel isolated and alone in the face of business and personal challenges. This might include putting some fun practices in place in order to generate a more casual and accessible feel, such as sharing selfies of your ‘office space’, sharing jokes and news articles, and hosting virtual catch-up sessions. It’s certainly going to be difficult over the next few months, but nobody has to feel alone. It only takes a few minutes to catch up with a colleague.

Convey purpose and a will to help: Alibaba

Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba, Chinese e-commerce giant, stresses the importance of supporting the global community and taking action to aid in the preservation of public health. Ma’s foundation donated over 1 million testing kits, 6 million masks, and 60,000 protective suits and face shields which will be sent to Ethiopia and then around the African continent.

As members of the global community, it will be irresponsible of us to sit on the fence, panic, ignore facts or fail to act. We need to take action now.

Jack Ma, Alibaba founder

Of course, not all businesses will have the resources to make such significant donations to the cause. But consider what Jack Ma’s statement means to those who work for and with Alibaba; as the figurehead of the multinational group, Ma is using his influence and position as a springboard from which to call for global action. His statement gives insight into the type of company he aims to build. Through compassion and generosity, it shows that how a well to do business man can call for global action in a time of crisis such as this one. 

Pivot and re-define roles: Small businesses

Tweaking your business model may be necessary for you to stay in business, as was the case for Baldor Foods. The American food supplier used to distribute food products wholesale to restaurants but has started taking orders from individual consumers

It’s redefining our role to keep the food supply running – from farmer to consumer. Our industry is vital to survival.

Ben Walker, Baldor Foods VP of Sales and Marketing

Gin distillery Psychopomp, a micro-brewery in the UK, has offers its customers 100ml hand sanitizer bottles in exchange for donations.

Many companies are shifting to online in order to keep servicing their clients as well as support their colleagues. Another example is Seattle bakery Piroshky run by Olga Sagan. Piroshki saw a 50% drop in business and had to make significant changes to its operations in light of the coronavirus.

Olga started selling her product online and also started an online hub for small businesses called Catch22Delivery. Olga speaks on the NPR podcast about the importance of re-defining the roles of her employees under her new business model; she makes mention of an employee who used to bake pastries in-store but has now started logging online sales and bookkeeping from home to assist in the online business.

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How can I prepare for future events?

It’s an unfortunate fact that companies are not all prepared at the same level across different industries. This means that the potential for future disruption is quite high, and so there is a lot of value in preparing your business. One of the ways you can do this is to follow these tips for preparing yourself and your business to best deal with the coronavirus situation.

  1. Read news from legitimate sources every day – in the face of a global pandemic that changes every day, it’s no shock that keeping yourself and your staff members informed on a daily basis is  a good way to stay abreast of the constant barrage of news. This can also help for shaping perspectives and keeping up with new data.
  2. Beware of fake news and news cycles. There is a lot of illegitimate news doing the rounds. You should have enough intuition to spot when something isn’t right, including no attributed source, news biased against one country or news that just doesn’t sound right. Remember to think critically about the news you are reading and whether you trust its source before you start to panic.
  3. Don’t assume that your colleagues or staff members are reading just because you are. As a leader or co-worker, it’s your duty to share information and act additionally so that you can widely share updates as they unfold. The key here is to never assume things as facts, and instead act to create an environment of information-sharing and connection. 
  4. There are tons of experts in epidemiology and virology who are dispensing crucial yet shifting information – so, expert opinions may differ. Remember to consult multiple sources before aligning yourself with one opinion. 
  5. It’s okay if your perceptions change. You may constantly analyse and re-frame what’s happening. It’s also perfectly fine to feel uncertain about the situation – nobody knows what the future will bring, but we can stay optimistic about recovery. 
  6. If you need to communicate with staff, make sure your response is balanced. Remember to  focus on your employees’ needs, as well as clear policies that can help your employees feel more secure in their positions.
  7. Prepare for a future crisis. We can expect that there may be different phases to this epidemic. By researching and learning as much as possible during this time, you can improve your preparation and overall business operations next time around.
  8. It’s a good idea to reflect on your thoughts and role in your business during this time. You should document any interesting news you’ve come across, or thoughts you’ve had that you feel could resonate with someone from your business. You could use this time to do some up-skilling or mindful meditation in order to improve your anxieties. 
  9. Be adaptable. It’s likely that the world won’t be the same after the epidemic. This is something that should happen at every level of your business.
  10. Remember not to focus on things that are out of your control. It might seem like the world is literally turning upside down overnight, but you’ll only end up harming your mental state if you become fixated on problems. Think about ways to introduce education, discussion and optimism within your organisation. This could include promoting self-care, hosting seminars and facilitating conferences with your employees.

The takeaway is that you should do your best to read from as many legitimate sources as possible in order to formulate your own opinion and strategy for moving forward. It’s paramount that you can remain adaptable, since we don’t know what will happen as time moves on. However, you should remain optimistic and instead, worry about things that are in your control – such as employee satisfaction and communication, assessing your operations and changing your working circumstances to uphold your company’s culture.

We at ShoppingFeeder acknowledge that this is an incredibly challenging time, and emphasize the importance of listening to international authorities and staying informed. We’re working in solidarity with all those affected by COVID-19, and encourage businesses to remain transparent at this time. 

1 thought on “Case studies: How companies have adapted to covid-19

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      These times have been truly difficult for our online store in terms of generating sales. However, we took it upon ourselves to use this time to optimize our site, find ways to improve our service delivery and perform competitive research.

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