One March 1, 2020, Forbes magazine published an opinion article with catchy title, ‘Coronavirus Could Be The End Of China As A Global Manufacturing Hub’.
The principle argument advanced by its author is that the world, as a result of Covid-19 disruption of manufactured goods have realised the adverse impact of putting most of their eggs, if not all, in one basket. That is China for that matter.
Just to appreciate China’s dominance it is reported that Covid-19 has disrupted supply chains for nearly 75 percent of US companies. In Europe, supermarket shelves are nearly empty. Even simple essential commodities like tissue paper are now a rarity in most developed countries due to disruption of production in China.
What this means to businesses around the world is, even as the world races against time to contain the epidemic the market place is rapidly evolving. Nations and businesses have leant crucial lessons.
Nearly all businesses today are affected by the Covid-19. However, the changes that the marketplace is undergoing and behaviours that that customers are embracing to survive in this era of epidemic and painful restrictions are going to affect businesses more than the Covid-19 itself.
After Covid-19 has been contained, many businesses that does not adjust will wake up to the reality that their customers have completely disappeared never to return again. The reason is they will have changed their behaviour and adopt other ways of solving their problems.
Take an example of health-conscious people who are hooked to the gym and have been faithful for years. Due to the epidemic they will discover others ways of keeping fit such as jogging or exercising at home. If they get better results at a conveniently low cost they will not go back to the gym even after the epidemic. The same applies to customers who discover they don’t need to visit a store because they can buy online or consultants who discover they can actually work from home and avoid payment rent in prime locations.
In other words, all businesses and individual entrepreneurs should be prepared for major shifts that will inform how people do shopping, invest their money, how companies configure their supply chain and communicate to their clients.
In this new set up, there will be many opportunities as investors seek to diversify their portfolios for instance to avoid a scenario like China’s dominance in industrial manufacturing as well as customers likely to rely on online platforms for major transactions that hitherto provided job and business opportunities to millions of people such as shopping, education, consultancy, banking and information dissemination.
The first thing that you ought to do at this period it to get a deeper understanding of your customers and prospects. Get to know how they are changing in a changing environment and follow them rather than waiting for them to come back after the crisis. Anticipate their next move and prepare in advance to be relevant in the market when Covid-19 is contained and normalcy is restored.