A raging virus, shutdowns, lockdowns, apprehensive consumers, frustrated managers, and failing businesses are all around us. These are the scars of a pandemic. Where do businesses go from here? Even on the heels of a vaccine, that light at the end of the tunnel seems distant. Fatigued consumers are ordering more online, traveling less, and seem to have accepted new behaviours. That e-commerce revenue has migrated from physical stores. It's not just retailers; restaurants, theatres, travel, hotels, and services are all taking a hit. The holiday season, where most retailers have broken even, is in jeopardy. Form the very beginning I've been telling businesses and readers that reopening will not be business as usual.
The real challenge is business survival. Will governments provide enough financial support for businesses and displaced workers? Work from home has become more familiar. How will central business districts rebound if companies don't need large office space? And what about malls and retailers? They could also be on a collision course because they've been losing traffic for several years. The pandemic has been a tipping point. And as many retailers close stores or file for bankruptcy, the shopping appeal of malls diminishes further. Where do workers find employment?
So, where do we go from here?
If fantasy were allowed for a moment. We could freeze every contractual obligation in time. Allowing no evictions or calling of loans until this pandemic is over. Unfortunately, utopias like this don't exist. What we need is a solid plan to restart economies! However, we have an issue to deal with. What kind of economy will businesses be facing in the next 12-18 months? The idea that we will just pick up where we left off is not realistic. Technology has made convenience and contactless shopping unmistakably easy. We need a plan! What are our options?
We hear a lot about China's recovery; however, comparisons are not realistic. Their media narrative is controlled, as is the virus in their country. Unlike the western world, our messaging on the virus is all the news! All recovery plans will need a public relations campaign that will drive consumer confidence. But, it will only be as effective as the vaccine. The ability of governments to reboot their economies must be precise. But we need to temper all of this with caution. Governments and businesses need to know what economy we are heading into. Companies large and small will need transparency on what the economy will look like as we emerge from this virus. The question is, will governments be that forthcoming? Therefore, we will need to know the entire consumer landscape because the Government collects mass amounts of data they need to help businesses be better prepared.
Recovery is everyone's responsibility.
But this should not only be the responsibility of the Government. The onus must also be on all businesses. Especially those that didn't invest enough in digital transformations? In May of this year I was telling business leaders and owners that they needed to become retail street-fighting. Whether you called it Guerrilla Marketing or anything else we all needed to roll up their sleeves and be more self-sufficient.
Therefore, we cannot take things for granted that someone will make things right or that we will restart where we left off. My conviction is that we are in a Brave New World right now, and we need to be better prepared. In his book, A Brave New World, Aldous Huxley wrote, "Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted." We can't let that be our go-forward strategy.
My name is George Minakakis I am the CEO of Inception Retail Group and the Author of The Great Transition The Emergence of Unconventional Leadership