The pandemic created challenges for every industry across the globe, and in many more aspects than we could’ve ever possibly imagined. People were used to going into their 9-5 jobs, expecting regular orders from clients and depending on an average monthly revenue that began to lower with each passing day. In short, things became really difficult — really quickly.
A lot of startups and individuals working as freelancers had no safety nets, and there were no Standard Operating Procedures for navigating a crisis of this magnitude. However, through the months of uncertain times, many industries found specific ways to stay afloat, and even learn a few things in the process that could extend beyond the pandemic.
Let’s take a look, and see how these ideas and stories could be of benefit, regardless of your particular niche.
When you think about the basic structure of eCommerce, you may initially believe that the pandemic shouldn’t have affected this industry as badly as brick-and-mortar stores. In some ways, this thought process is correct, as people were still able to shop from the comfort (and now safety) of their own homes. And it’s true, many consumers began looking to online stores from which to order their basic needs, especially when items like cleaning supplies and toilet paper were almost impossible to find at your regular grocery store.
In fact, according to a recent study on Statista, 9% of online shoppers during the pandemic were doing so for the very first time. We all probably know that person who claims they’ll never buy anything online. Well, it looked like a good percentage of them may have changed their minds.
But, what about the stores that offered luxury products, or even lower-priced options that just didn’t fall into the category of “basic needs?” How did they get by?
According to Travis Killian, the owner of Everlasting Comfort, they survived by increasing their overall customer experience. “During the pandemic, we learned that a lot of consumers were extremely hesitant when it came to making any purchases. That’s why we really doubled down on our already stellar customer service efforts. We want it to be an ‘experience,’ from the moment they clicked on our site, to the time when they tried their purchase for the first time.”
Personal Fitness Training
Depending on your region, gyms and fitness studios were among some of the first businesses to experience the harsh blow of COVID restrictions, culminating in temporary closings. And from the opinion of many, that was somewhat understandable. There were just too many risks and far too many “unknowns” at the time — especially initially. People who worked out regularly attempted to do so at home, but some slipped into what many are calling their “COVID bodies,” as they watched those abs disappear.
David Hatfield, an expert fitness instructor at Body & Soul Personal Training, says that complete COVID compliance was what helped them retain a good majority of their clients, as well as establishing trust that goes far beyond the pandemic.
“In the beginning, it was all about being innovative and getting really creative,” David muses. “We began hosting virtual sessions with our clients, and continuing to motivate them to reach their personal fitness goals. And when restrictions were lifted, we made our clients feel comfortable about coming back to the studio, where we went above and beyond to remain in compliance.”
While some people tended to avoid larger gyms in the earlier stages of the pandemic, smaller studios with personal trainers seemed to set more people at ease, especially if they could develop a rapport with their trainer.
“Sometimes I am cleaning more than training,” David laughs. “But our clients, whom we really look at as a family, know that they are in a safe environment. That’s what matters at the end of the day. It’s just one more way that they can trust us with multiple aspects of their health.”
COVID caused many companies to take a hard look at their budgets and decide which departments or services could withstand cuts. Unfortunately, some thought about marketing, social media and networking — not realizing what the effects would be of “playing catchup” when consumers began returning to their old purchasing patterns. There is also something to be said about stability, and continuing to showcase this to your customers.
Moody Nashawaty with MuteSix, a leading agency in performance marketing, is in agreeance. “As the pandemic really took hold, we definitely noticed a much stronger trend toward brand loyalty. In more certain times, some people searched for the best deals, often moving from business to business for their services and products.”
“However,” Moody explains, “If the pandemic could be seen in a positive light, it did help us to slow down and take a harder look at our decisions. And now, even as we move past both budgetary and health restrictions, consumers may be more apt to stick with a brand that retained its visibility during the pandemic. We encouraged our clients to stay on the radar and remain relevant, which has achieved countless positive outcomes in customer retention.”
Starting or Buying a Business
With so many uncertain times abound, it may not seem like an ideal time to start off on a new venture. But, what if you were on the verge of signing the papers for your new startup, office space or another business acquisition?
Tom Leighton, COO from Sofary Lighting believes “Putting a pin in such an endeavor may not be realistic, or it could end in the loss of not only potential revenue, or money (and time) that has already been invested”
Angela Hope of Upflip mentions, “While many wanted to push the pause button during COVID due to unstable conditions, it’s important to remember that there were (and still are) financial opportunities that have never been available before. Whether it be zero-to-low interest loans or specific grants, achieving the dream of your own business may be more attainable than ever before.”
In the End
As we’ve discovered, the pandemic affected completely diverse industries in one very significant way: it caused them to re-evaluate and think outside of the box like never before. Companies found new ways to thrive, and they learned valuable lessons that will be utilized — long after the pandemic ceases to be a daily topic of conversation.