As we begin to recover from lockdown, and we look at the changes we’ve all had to make, what effects could the post-COVID-19 era have on services, shopping trends and digitalisation? As business owners, what trends can we capitalise on for the longer term?
Here, we make three predictions:
1. More emphasis on ‘shop local’
We’ve already seen a trend in recent years towards supporting the local, smaller business and, with less travel, we have probably all valued our local services and facilities more than we did before. This trend will only be further cemented now and result in a deeper commitment to supporting independents, small and authentic businesses whose mission and values are clear. While the internet has allowed the smaller business to rank online alongside the ‘big boys’ and social media has meant a direct line to local consumers, people will be ready and more willing than ever to choose the smaller brand over the largest brands, so small businesses can invest in targeted digital advertising with increasing confidence.
2. Increase in online shopping
I know, it seems unbelievable, but there were people who – before the pandemic – had never ordered or shopped for anything online before. Self-isolation and shielding forced many into this new online world of commerce. This forced introduction has broken down many perceived barriers and those businesses who can incorporate deliveries or ecommerce elements will continue to grow. The traditional, offline-only retailer is likely to see a slow decline with a few key local hubs likely to thrive if they can sell the experiential element. Almost every business can incorporate some form of online purchase, so their digital marketing strategy should be examined carefully.
3. Work and study from home options
The pandemic has, naturally, caused many to work from home. At Engage Web, we were lucky we had already built in flexible working and a work-from-home allowance for our team so the infrastructure already existed. Many employers will now see an increased demand for – and less reason to refuse – some form of flexible working. We’ve become used to online meetings and like their convenience in terms of time and money, so these are no doubt here to stay with the face-to-face option reserved for significant meetings. Technologies that facilitate these and home-working – such as Zoom, Teams and LastPass – will thrive. Office space will see reduced demand and those who maintain physical offices will likely adapt their layouts for a new culture; the fear of another pandemic will remain for a long time.
We’ve seen an increase in online courses and online study as many companies have tried to ‘pivot’ (yes, we’re all sick of that word now – even the Friends reference can no longer make it fun). Taking time off work to study in a face-to-face environment becomes less appealing and online courses become more competitive.
We’ve grown accustomed to the reference to a ‘new normal’. It certainly seems there will be a real shift in many key areas as we look to a new future. At Engage Web, we’ve helped businesses launch online courses, add ecommerce elements and create marketing funnels to build their pipeline, so get in touch with our team and see how we could help you.