KAMPALA – Certainly, the post-Covid 19 will not be business as usual! As customer behaviours change, they will reshape business models in the post-coronavirus world. All businesses have been affected by the lockdown that has been eased by the government. Several governments worldwide have ordered social isolation measures, shutting down businesses, and having people work from home to slow the spread of the virus. This piece ventures into highlighting the opportunities to reshape the post lock downtime for the small business owners.
As usual, doom and gloom overshadow the typical good news, as SMEs are suffering and in some extreme cases, even shutting down. While the inevitable global slowdown that has followed is unquestionably a time to contemplate and look back, we should also stay receptive to the notion that progress comes from dire situations and from thinking about a problem with ever-changing perspectives; put it another way, crises necessitate creative solutions. Inventiveness, adaptation, and maybe even the instinct to protect and preserve ourselves, these collectively force us to recognize new opportunities
However, several companies are not silently watching – they have adapted like chameleons to the situation and stretched their brand, reshuffled their production lines, and catered to new needs. In short, they have listened to the market and taken a risk or two, making COVID-19 the main propeller for new growth in some sectors and reviving dormant potential in others. Just see the judiciary system in Uganda is going online – filings and hearings will later be digitized, which could enhance the speed of executing work and get rid of some of the backlogs. In the realm of productivity, we have seen a strong rise in cloud services, solutions to minimize paperwork and physical contact, reimbursement apps and digital solutions for accounting, and the growth of contactless devices for an infinite number of environments.
Going sector-wis, we are also seeing opportunities in the below:
Food – fresh groceries and meat, cold storage, high-quality foreign food and beverage, cooking appliances.
Growth in demand for shopping services and home delivery.
The delivery has seen tremendous prominence in the so-called “lockdown economy” that has resulted. All the online teams like jumia, bazebo and kikuubonline are delivering to your doorstep. This trend has not left the food hubs in slumber. We continue to see deliveries – such as food delivery services like Café Java’s, KFC, Shoprite, etc,
Are companies taking note of the changing demand trends? Yes, Video-conferencing companies like Zoom, meet on google, webex, teams, etc – have benefited significantly, though their capacity to deliver may be stressed. The new normal is meeting online.
Entertainment – Now let’s get down to brass tacks. Our celebrated artists are running online shows free of charge for now. Who knows? Very soon, we shall have to subscribe to enjoy the music. The gaming industry has adopted new ways of disseminating content and promoting small businesses has gone online, and virtual visits to landmarks are the norm.
Education, sports, and well-being are continuing to change towards the new normal. While appreciating the promotion of study on TV and radio, online teaching and learning, and online fitness classes have become trendy and a necessary evil. All consultancies that were arranging international workshops are resorting to – virtual classrooms, webinars, online cooking classes.
The Services industry is adopting contact-less systems, enhanced delivery services, remote banking services, alternative channels, customer profiling, and mapping. Let’s encourage our Churches to adopt an online and digitized collection of church offerings and tithe, as they do online ministering.
Healthcare and health technology – pharmaceuticals, supplements, medical devices, personal protective equipment (PPE), telemedicine, smart hospitals and online consultations, digital medical assistants, apps, and mini-apps, self-diagnosing medical devices.
Electrical appliances – The households are placing a spotlight on dishwashers and washing machines, sterilization machines, sweeping robots, sanitizing ACs.
Massive growth is cleaning services. For the areas that were only cleaned once a day, say at restaurants and offices, there is constant and very regular sanitization. This is leading to an opportunity for anti-viral cleaners.
In order to boost immunity that is critical in the fight against Covid19, we shall see more opportunities in food supplements, medical advisory, and treatment services. Tele-clinical consultations are a new normal and will slowly be adopted by the medical sector. Groceries that have developed a keen interest in fruits especially the immunity building and vitamin C are seeing the light.
On the consumer side, Signage is now very necessary e.g. “We clean our gym 12 times a day top to bottom with antiviral disinfectant”… “Our air conditioning system cleans the air every six minutes”, “No one plays if they have a temperature”, etc. Packaging services will also have to change to suit the Covid19 requirements, thus creating an opportunity.
Office cost reduction opportunities – office rent is quite expensive, and flexible work arrangements are yet to be explored in their full functional scope. This will open up opportunities across multiple and linked sectors, such as office space redesign, building remote work systems, software platforms, and cloud-based services – all of which will likely see significant gains once the world economy goes into post-COVID-19 recovery mode and employers keep their office space costs in check in case their staff will need to work from other locations.
Others- Tailoring, that some people believed was for school dropouts, is booming. All people that are moving of home are required to wear a mask. The demand for bicycles and motorbikes as a means of transport has sky-rocketed, leading to the hiking of prices. Since the gyms are closed, all fitness-conscious Corporates are looking for treadmills.
In a nutshell, International commerce has depended on Asia’s output for decades now. Rarely in history has the supply chain had such fluctuations, now Chinese suppliers are struggling with extra stock because of countless canceled orders. We see a continued preferment for African countries to produce what was previously imported from China. How can we scheme these insights into the future course of action?
The writer, Michael Jjingo is the General Manager of Commercial Banking at Centenary Bank