As you read this, you are no doubt hunkered down, most likely at home, trying to ride out what for most of us is the most difficult period of our lives, both personally and professionally.
Even as it looks like the crisis will go on for some time -- measured in weeks and probably months -- some people are already starting to think about what business will be like after the pandemic subsides.
We have culled together some predictions and observations from many industry sources about what we might expect then:
• Just about every expert in the field is in agreement on one thing: The market penetration of e-commerce will accelerate much faster because of this crisis. Online’s share of sales should double, both from those consumers doing more shopping at home and those who tried e-com for the first time out of necessity and liked it. Either way, any retailer or supplier without a full developed e-commerce business is in trouble.
• Sales of home goods, particularly products that have a functional aspect like lighting, should do better than average as consumers step up their buying beyond “need” products. More people will be working from home necessitating better home office environments while others will have spent all that time confined to their homes realizing it’s likely in need of a major refresh.
• Cash is going to be king. As giant corporations tapped their credit lines, added new borrowing or curtailed dividends and stock buybacks, it became apparent that having working capital – particularly in a time of little incoming revenue – was critical for survival. Coming out of this, it’s likely businesses will work to clean up their balance sheets and have larger cash reserves … or at least the means to get that cash.
• The business landscape is likely to be very different as the casualty rate for both retailers and vendors may be beyond anything we’ve ever seen in such a short time period. It might mean finding new suppliers to buy from if you’re a retailer and if you’re on the other side, looking for new retail points of distribution to replace those customers no longer operating.
There will be countless more ramifications from the coronavirus crisis, some of which will be totally unanticipated. We may not be able to predict them all, but we’ll know them when we see them.