What’s Next for Small Business Post-COVID?
Nobody can say for sure what running a small business will look like post-COVID, but plenty of people and publications are speculating about what’s next. Many of those doing the prognosticating agree on several likely outcomes. Below are five predictions for the future of business once we can start building our new new normal, post-pandemic.
Work from Home
According to Forbes, only about 5% of employees worked remotely full-time pre-COVID, while 25% did so one day or more per week. During the shutdown, 93% of employees are working remotely—and showing increased productivity. Employees are mainly enjoying autonomy, while employers may find it’s to their advantage to let them continue to work from home. While a half-time remote employee saves $2,500-$4,000 per year on travel, food, etc., employers can save about $11,000 for each person who works from home half the time! Some economists, CFOs, and finance leaders predict that 2-5% of employees could remain full-time remote after the crisis, while others say that a hybrid model will largely take the place of the current one.
During the quarantine, those who did need to pick up essential integrated marketing or business supplies found themselves patronizing local businesses. While online companies certainly saw their share of orders, it is local small businesses that have been holding down the fort for their communities. Comfortable and accessible, these businesses have been willing to change their business models to meet new customer expectations and have not had the same supply chain disruptions seen by others.
Supply Chain Changes
The supply chain has other issues, as well. The crisis has laid bare how risky it is for businesses to rely so heavily on global manufacturing to fill warehouses and stock rooms. We’ve seen companies back-ordered on essential supplies and months-long delivery estimates because they’ve invested so heavily abroad. Many forecasters anticipate that businesses will begin diversifying from single-source suppliers and localizing or regionalizing their supply chains. This reorganization may cause costs to rise but will eliminate future bottlenecks.
Many businesses ramped up their online presence out of necessity during the crisis. Those integrated marketers who purchased from them now have expectations of a seamless shopping experience post-COVID. It is far more critical than ever for stores to meet the demand for transparent online/in-person purchases. This may take the form of Buy Online Pickup in Store (BOPIS) and curbside pickup (which have seen massive growth during the shutdown), special promotions geared toward how the customer shops, and ensuring the same level of service regardless of where the buyer engages. Younger audiences, especially, expect that what they see online matches what they will find in-person.
New Payment Options
One significant consequence of the pandemic—at least in the short-term—will be primarily driven by consumers: hygiene-sanitizing standards. Virus-wary buyers expect businesses to clean their facilities more frequently, observe safe distancing guidelines, and offer touchless payment options. Alternate non-cash, non-card payment methods like Apple Pay, Android Pay, Google Wallet, and Fitbit Pay will increase in popularity. Other contactless methods likely to see increased play include payment via key fobs, mobile banking apps, and other devices that don’t require users to touch shared keypads or screens.
While there is no crystal ball to let us know what the future holds for small business, forecasters agree that we will continue to work through our “quarantine state of mind” even once shelter-in-home orders lift. Cleanliness will remain top of mind for all of us, while many will expect to continue enjoying the same conveniences that kept so many businesses afloat during the shutdown.
Until we can once again enjoy working with you face-to-face, our offices remain ready to virtually meet your printing, marketing, promotional and creative needs. Simply visit us online or give us a call to place an order, and we will be happy to provide you with a safe, contactless pickup experience.