The Business of Pandemics

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The Business of Pandemics

By Samantha Brooks on 27 October, 2020

Adjusting to the challenges that arrived with the outbreak of COVID-19 has become the new norm for Australian businesses. Shuttered brick & mortar stores across the world are focused on the well-being of their employees…and making sure there’s still a business for them to return to post-COVID-19.  Some have been forced to reduce staff hours, let employees go or cease operations completely. For others, creative diversification has allowed them to surge ahead and look beyond the crisis to a viable future. The way we do business has changed, and in the face of adversity new business opportunities have flourished. 

Working from Home 

As office-based companies moved to safeguard the health and well-being of their employees, entire teams were relocated to remote working. While the concept of working from home in pyjamas sounded like a dream, the reality was that for many it proved to be difficult, negatively impacting team dynamics and motivation. However, once employees started to mirror their regular routines as closely as possible, companies began to realise that with strong processes and systems, people can work anywhere and manage it well. With the support of video conferencing systems such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom, the move to remote work has become the new normal. For many industries, the global outbreak of COVID-19 may have sparked a long lasting shift in workplace flexibility, technology and innovation. 

Brick and Mortar pivot

People want to support their communities in the face of the COVID-19 crisis, but businesses that operate out of a physical location face a unique challenge if they are to take advantage of that support. So, how did some businesses successfully pivot, or support other businesses, in the face of a global crisis?

While liquor stores were permitted to stay open during stay-at-home orders, many moved to make their environment safer for staff and customers alike. Brisbane’s craft beer fan-favourite Newstead Brewing offered roadside collection and online or telephone ordering, to ensure social distancing and keep their loyal and thirsty customers quenched.

Due to restrictions on how many people were allowed to sit down and eat in a restaurant at the height of the pandemic, takeaway food was the only option to survive for many restaurants. Platforms such as UberEats, Deliveroo and DoorDash were already thriving before the pandemic, but restrictions to the hospitality industry meant that they began to see even more interest from the public. To support local businesses, delivery platforms took measures to encourage higher sales for restaurants. DoorDash was the first to lend a hand in April, announcing they would be cutting their commission fees by 50% – putting the pressure on the other big players in delivery to follow suit. Uber launched dedicated marketing campaigns for local restaurants around the world, particularly for restaurants new to the app, in a bid to support small businesses doing it tough.

The responsibilities and concerns of daily life don’t pause for a pandemic, meaning many other essential businesses, outside of hospitality, needed to move to an online or delivery model. We’ve seen pharmacies increasingly performing delivery services, as well as bookshops moving to online and delivery – which has been a blessing for those isolating at home, and has made these services more accessible to those less able.

Seizing the day – How two Brisbane teens earned $70,000 in one month

The challenges faced by many Australian companies are proving to be golden opportunities for some. Not only have food delivery companies such as UberEATS, Menulog and Deliveroo experienced unrivalled demand, streaming services are booming and the indoor-plant fad has taken over many households. Aspiring entrepreneurs Lachlan, 18, and Taylor, 19, from Brisbane, spotted their own opportunity in the midst of the nation-wide lockdown; the teens made $70,000 in four weeks by selling brain teaser, craft, and hobby products to bored Aussies around the country. 

Using a retail method called dropshipping, the pair sold products in the craft and hobby niche to keep Australian’s entertained during shelter-in-place orders. Through dropshipping, the pair did not have to fork out the money to purchase inventory, but rather acted as an intermediary using their website, shipping the product directly from the supplier to their customers. After making such a mark in their first month of operations, the pair have expanded their month-long venture and set their sights on Melbourne as the Victorian capital battles a second wave of the deadly virus which is threatening to spread to other states. (correct at the time of writing).

What will the future hold? There’s little doubt that the pandemic has forced companies to adapt, reinvent and reimagine business models. Creating business solutions that meet changing consumer needs is the key to re-tuning priorities and generating opportunities that will succeed in a post-pandemic world. As our country progresses in the fight against COVID-19, it is clear that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel for Aussie businesses.

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