It’s just a couple of weeks since we are locked down in our own little worlds. It took just one quarter to stop the world and break the global village puzzle to the smallest parts. World is big again.
Will it ever be the same? Is there a way back to the world we knew and loved so much or is it a “new normal” we need to adapt? I will look closer at some of the areas where I believe things will not be the same again.
Psychological research shows that it takes on average approximately 6 weeks to get a new habit. This means that after doing something new regularly for 6 weeks in a row ( everyday) it is not new anymore. In many countries we are just crossing this timeframe and in the following areas we may expect new social habits:
The pre-COVID-19 world was all about consumption. Big malls, advertising everywhere and helpless consumers in the middle of everything trying to sell him something.
This road had no end. You can always buy more, possess more things, look for bigger houses and bigger cars. There are always holiday resorts you did not visit and hotels and restaurants with more stars. Suddenly it all got stopped.
All the product and service providers designed for consumer segments had to switch from omnichannel to digital only channel overnight.
Let’s look in details at 2 examples:
- e-grocery – for many years retailers and venture funds were looking for a perfect model of e-grocery. One of the largest global markets remained conservative and even though new formats and experiments kept coming it was still a niche market. Last October I was listening to a lecture of a professor who studied the most successful global cases and his theory was we would always prefer to go to a local convenience store to get fresh food instead of clicking bread and butter in the mobile app.
Last week people were trading “delivery slots” from retailers delivering grocery home. Ads on facebook are offering me at least 3 new companies with similar proposals. We still go and buy food at the large shops but a significant amount of new users tried how it is to order online and get things delivered at your door. They found out it’s actually ok. The probability of them buying food online after a pandemic is very high.
- foodtech – during last years the market of the cooked food deliveries grew significantly. Even though the restaurants and bars were celebrating best years with an economic boom many people wanted to order their favorite food from places they like home. Most of the restaurant owners treated this as an on top revenue source and never allocated too much attention to this channel. That is why owners of these apps were able to ask very high margins from restaurants. Suddenly this channel became the only channel for restaurants willing to continue operations. But the business model they developed with food tech companies was not healthy enough.
When pandemic is over we will definitely continue to buy online. Buying online is data driven. We are less exposed to things not matching our profile. There is much less impulse shopping. We buy things we intend to buy. It’s faster and less expensive.
In the digital consumption customer experience is critical in the ordering process but retailers do not need large decorated spaces in the city center to get in contact with us. We will see more product value and less costs related with space rental. Location lost the throne.
During the last few years I have hosted many executives coming from different corporations visiting Google offices for inspiration. Google office was always “an option” for Googlers. Our main workplace was in the GSuite space. Digital collaboration is how we work for many years. We work how we live in the most convenient place. Google office is more the home of our culture. This is where we come to connect and spend time together with our teams and external partners. I have heard many times that this is not possible for traditional enterprises like banks and telcos. The level of trust was lower and the managers did not believe employees left home will work with similar engagement as when they are supervised by their managers.
COVID-19 closed offices all across the globe. If employers didn’t trust their employees to work from home they had to learn fast to do so as working from home is the only way of working we are allowed to do.
Work finally integrated with our life and we see kids, pets and couriers coming to the video calls. We work in between cooking and washing dishes. We answer emails between running and showers. Well… we were working like this in the past but the general perception was that is it wrong. People were expected to have a clear border between work and life called balance.
I personally believe integration is what we see now and it gives people more space to be authentic. Surprisingly productivity went up. We do not waste time commuting and we can spend this time working. Will we ever come back to crowded, unfriendly office spaces ?
- All that jazz called everyday
The same thing is happening in many other areas of life. It’s difficult to go see a doctor but in a few weeks telemedicine is fully deployed. Something we believed was closely connected with the intimate relationship between doctor and patient is now happening on a video call or via telephone. It turned out that doctors have emails and smartphones and most of the processes can be translated to these communication channels.
The same happened at schools. The only lessons we observe are in the virtual classrooms. It forced teachers to adopt new technologies to the way they share knowledge with their students.
Whether it’s banking or administrative tasks we are moving online. But whatever we do online leaves a digital footprint. The more footprint the more data. The more data the better outcome.
This is here to stay and the social acceptance of that process was never higher.
What are the positives ? We see more productivity, lower costs. We sleep more, we eat healthier food. We have more time for learning, sport and time with family. We are living our full life where work is well integrated in the daily activities and we are never late home for dinner.
Where there is more data there is more measures and more research. Science is closer to everything we do and finally it makes a difference in the key areas of people’s life. Whatever online entrepreneurs will do will go towards constant improvements and will provide them constant feedback and insights on what they can do better. As a result the products and services will be better than ever before and cheaper than ever before. Covid-19 will eliminate unnecessary costs improving pricing for the end users and still offering higher margins to businesses.