COVID-19 has rapidly changed the world and we have entered a “New Normal” (as of the year 2020). According to research, this new global situation could last at least 2 to 4 years. Retail stores, travel agencies, theme parks, restaurants, gambling, airlines, hotels, movie theaters, live sports, cruises, film productions, gas, gyms, transportation, and much more were hit hard during this pandemic.
Now businesses are facing new challenges, while some business owners consider COVID-19 a push to accelerate their “digital transformations” — turning their business from mom & pop shops to an online e-commerce shop. Companies such as Google, Twitter, and Facebook are also beginning to let employees work from home and are adapting all their infrastructure to make remote work as smooth as possible.
Businesses that have been able to properly identify the changes caused by these times and adapt to them have been able to come out on top. Here are some changes that businesses are now facing due to the pandemic:
1. Conservative spending: Unfortunately, thousands of enterprises claimed bankruptcy overnight due to quarantine around March and April in 2020. Without people going out physically and spending money on the shops, big retail stores struggle to afford the cost of maintaining the physical locations and staff, while more than 40 million people recently got laid off. As a result, consumers are more hesitant to spend their money.
2. Remote workers: Companies are now working from home and have moved all the meetings and management systems online. It can be more flexible to work from home than working in the office. Many companies have placed an emphasis on building a flexible workforce based on temporary contracts rather than traditional full-time employment. Hiring remotely can also expand the company’s talent pool since there is no physical boundary if the workers are going to deliver the work online.
3. Online boost: Despite the weaker economy, online shopping, education, training, and gaming are flourishing. Due to quarantine, people are spending less on going out and are looking online for new media and outlets to educate and entertain themselves. Netflix reported receiving 16 million new sign-ups thanks to the quarantine. Amazon Prime memberships have grown to $5.6 billion and the sales revenues have grown to $77.5 billion.
Here are new digital opportunities for businesses to improve their digital product experience considering these changes:
1. Take time to improve e-commerce and social media content: Moving business and communication online is a perfect opportunity to improve your business’s online experience. Low rates of loans the government provides for small businesses during COVID and a lot of great designers are seeking projects. Additionally, consumers have more time to spend online and are looking for a distraction from current events. The content on social media platforms can turn your followers to loyal fans and customers. It can increase your brand awareness, sales, audience engagement, and increase SEO search and online traffic.
2. Integrate elements of “gamification” to your brand: As a company focuses its efforts online, the opportunity for gamification can present itself. Capturing the audience’s attention might be a challenge for business. Here’s an example of a business that utilizes “gamification” for its campaigns. Starbucks created a “gamification” loyalty reward program that allows customers to accumulate points for future rewards. This encourages customers to purchase more in order to get more rewards. Not only can it generate more sales but also it adds a lot of fun to the purchasing experience.
3. Explore new media for solutions: IKEA recently integrated AR into its mobile app, allowing users to select what furniture they like, place it into their living room or kitchen, and purchase it through the in-app link. It reduced the returning rate by 50% and increased customer trust by providing an immersive online experience. Similarly, many Hollywood film production companies shut down during the pandemic. The producers met over Zoom and had actors read their lines via FaceTime. By matching computer images and live-action images, production teams can virtually produce high-quality movies without meeting in person. Finally, high-quality VR tours allow buyers and renters to navigate through the spaces without physically being there in person.
COVID-19 has given businesses an even greater reason to transform their business digitally. Companies that have been able to anticipate these new sets of challenges will be able to survive, and even grow, these new couple years of a “New Normal”. The “New Normal” also comes with new opportunities to improve one’s online experience and explore elements of gamification and new media.