What happens after businesses enter those silent streets and dust-worn factories again? What do you wear to your next business meeting? Uncertainty or confidence?
Everyone is talking about the ‘new normal’. But ask yourself an honest question – Do we really know what that ‘normal’ is going to be like?
Would it mean trying to recover as much business as we can that we lost during the lockdowns? Or redefining the way we normally do business?
Truth be told, no one really knows. The new world of life and business would be so closely defined by the lessons and fears of the lockdowns; that it would be impossible to go back to the pre-COVID state of mind.
Social distancing will be a hard reality even post-lockdown. Digital ways of doing business will pick up acceleration because enterprises have discovered the safety, stability, consistency, ROI, and productivity of digital platforms. Businesses are unlikely to go back to the old ways. Digital transformation is not a choice anymore. It would be the sole differentiator between those who adapt and survive and those who vanish from the radar.
Whether you are a buyer, supplier or a service provider, remember ten things when you take out your briefcase from the wardrobe again.
Do not start running at top speed because of all the loss of time you think you need to compensate for. Start slow. This is a new road now. Get acquainted with the new context. Take guidance. Do small experiments. And remember that everyone has lost business and time. You are just one among many. Do not get paranoid and hyperactive.
2. Respect social distancing and health concerns
Even if people scramble to resume work and trade, the fears around health are not going to subside soon. Try to find more and more means of doing business in a virtual way. Equip yourself with the right solutions and B2B platforms. This will give your partners and teams the much-needed assurance that when it comes to work and health, it is not an either/ or situation with your business.
3. Look for the right partners nearby
Yes, just the way we will start greeting each other from a safe distance, start forming a distance with trade partners that do not acknowledge the shifts that we have encountered. Start looking for partners that fit the necessities of the new geopolitical atlas. Search for suppliers who can address the new needs that you confront with recent supply-chain disruptions. Use affordable advertising tools. Do not spread and waste your efforts randomly. Get tech-savvy and specific. Scout for partners that align with your geography and product needs.
4. Get seen online
This is the perfect time to increase your business visibility. Everyone is prone to looking for new equations, business models, and suppliers & buyers the way you would do. So try to elevate your local and global visibility with tools like BLISS (Business Listing and Information Services). Here you can get genuine inquiries from verified buyers. Do note that bona fide status will be the mark of a true trader from now on.
5. Delay and latency- out of the window
There is no room for lags now – be it for the buyers to generate enquiries or take decisions. You will have to go extremely digital when it comes to real-time information. Digital platforms can help suppliers get relevant enquiries, display products, services, converse, interact, follow-up, and measure results in real-time. Whether you are a buyer or a supplier, you can use virtual modes of partner search, engagement, contract discussions, negotiations, and agreement signups so that your physical presence does not make a big difference.
6. Do not be a goat. Leave the herd
The e-B2B market was last pegged at $1.7 billion and has been gaining a large share of the $700 billion offline B2B retail markets (RedSeer Report 2019)*. Surprisingly, more than 70% of procurement and distribution between brands was happening through unorganized ways. Imagine the untapped space that will now be open! If you strike the iron while it is hot, you can reap the immense advantages of being the first-mover player.
7. B2B is not Bricks but Bricks-plus Clicks
While it would make sense to embrace digital transformation, also bear in mind that some successful players in this realm are the ones that know how to deliver a perfect hybrid experience. Your front-end activities can be digital but the back-end should still be robust enough to live up to the promises and expectations you set out there. Carve a good hybrid model for your business.
8. Be patient
Vaccine or no vaccine, one thing is sure: there is no magic pill that will revive the global economy. Businesses will take time to pick up. Consumer spends may show new directions. New categories will see a surge. Some categories will take a direct hit. It will take time for the dust to settle. Do not make huge investments or big decisions based on initial signals. Sit back, observe, and pace your strategy.
9. Take the help of MSME packages
The Govt. knows the conditions of the business. It has rolled out several measures. Read and understand how you can take benefits from the recently launched MSME package.
10. Accept the change
As much as you may hate it or resist it, the world is going to take a big new turn. Stop fighting the switch that is happening. Be a fast learner. Adapt. Find new business model twists and cater to your customers with new and integrated experiences. Just the way consumers are used to being served from anywhere, businesses too need to take a leaf from their B2C counterparts. Join the new paradigm and stay their favorite.
This lockdown is not a beast to fight. It is a storm that will leave you with new opportunities to make yourself stronger and relevant than what you were when things were mundane. So mask up and step out.