Covid-19 has wreaked havoc on economies around the globe, and the UK has felt the impact just as much as anywhere else. SMEs have had to adapt to the changing conditions quickly. But exactly what do these adaptations look like?
Before the pandemic arrived, many retailers were already in the process of shifting their operations to the online world. This process has been accelerated by the pandemic. Customers have been made housebound, and in dire need of entertainment, as well as the usual essential supplies. Goods which might previously have been bought from a physical store are now being bought via online ones.
The chief beneficiaries of this trend have been those with an infrastructure already in place to cater to the demand. Businesses like Amazon and eBay have prospered, but so too have the SMEs which sell through them. To flourish in this environment means meeting the high expectations of the consumer, which means looking into optimising logistics through services like Parcel2Go and the couriers they work with.
As well as the actual selling of goods and services through the internet, many businesses are having their staff conduct day-to-day office work from home. With fewer people on the premises at any one time, the risk of contagion is lower. In many cases, it’s been necessary to invest in new technology to allow workers to work remotely.
Businesses who rely on a single stream of income have found themselves more vulnerable to the effects of slumping demand. To capture new streams of income, these businesses have had to diversify to stay afloat. For example, many restaurants have decided to start offering take-away services in order to generate extra profits during the pandemic. Moreover, the suppliers of those restaurants have transitioned quickly into providing goods directly to the customer.
What does the future hold?
While the lockdown is now lifting, a great deal is still uncertain. What happens to the economy will depend on the political and medical facts. It’s likely, however, that many of the habits that customers have picked up during the lockdown will remain a fixture of the economy going forward. Customers who’ve gotten used to the convenience of having a weekly shop delivered may see no reason to ever set foot in a supermarket again, even when there isn’t a deadly virus on the loose.
As far as telecommuting goes, the signs point to a more sustained shift in attitudes. The advantages of working from home were being mooted long before the word ‘coronavirus’ had achieved widespread circulation. Tech giants like Facebook have already announced a long-term intention to shift the workforce to working from home, and it’s likely that smaller businesses will follow.