BY ANTONY MUTUNGA
As time goes by, we continue to transform our world into a digital one. Just how digital can we get was recently answered by the catastrophic Covid-19 pandemic.
As with most pandemics throughout history, the Covid-19 saw the norm change. with social distancing, a majority around the world were forced to either work from home or close down their businesses for a time. In the period, reliance on the internet grew as doing everything online from ordering food to usual work meetings became the new norm.
Despite the continuing emotional and economical toll the pandemic has on the world as businesses continue to face several uncertainties, signs of revitalization are already being witnessed. Even though some countries continue to impose lockdowns due to the emergence of various strains of the coronavirus, organizations around the world have stepped up to move forward from the wreck that was 2020. Coming to the reality that they are no longer in the same standing as they were before the outbreak, organizations had to identify new strategies to improve and expand.
No other change has been more evident than a shift in consumers’ behavior. The period of contagion, self-isolation, and economic uncertainty has seen consumers change their daily operations. For instance, expenditure has reduced as most people work from home and unemployment has risen, traveling has been immensely minimised and people tend to focus more on health and hygiene. Most of the changes are expected to remain in the long run. Thus, organizations in 2021 will have to implement strategies with this in mind.
Consumers will expect that organizations are in the know hence they will expect them to dwell more on what their brands, products, and services can offer them. They will no longer be persuaded by mere price changes and promotions; they will look to brands that not only offer products and services they need, which are suited to the current situation, but to organizations that are giving back to the society to help with the impact of the pandemic. For instance, with the pandemic affecting opportunities especially among the youth and the challenged, consumers might be more attracted to an organization aimed at taking up its social, environmental, and ethical responsibility.
As consumers changed their behavior, they also integrated more digital technology into their day-to-day operations. For instance, e-commerce became the solution when a majority of the world population was mainly in isolation. In case one wanted to do shopping or travel while in the comfort of their homes, doing it online was the way to go. Digital transformation was on the rise since the start of 2020, in 2021 the trend is set to continue.
Big or small, all organizations will have to invest more in the migration to digital platforms. Those that invest in evolving technologies such as apps, VR, AR, chatbots, artificial intelligence, and predictive analytics will be able to stay ahead of their competitors and come out on top post-pandemic. Even though lockdowns continue to reduce around the world, consumers will still fear going to brick and mortar stores for some time and thus the preference will be online. Henceforth, not only do organizations have to focus on migrating their services online, they have to ensure that the consumers enjoy a seamless experience. For a successful digital transformation, there will be a need for omnichannel marketing that relies heavily on technology.
Organizations will need to invest in CRM platforms, integrated customer service, and ensure that consumers have seamless connectivity through their different devices. As such, it will be crucial for organizations to focus more on mobile commerce in 2021. The number of internet users has indeed grown as according to Datareportal, around 60% or roughly 4.66 billion people around the world used the internet at the start of 2021. Even though a number of these internet users use computers, 92.6% of the total number use mobile devices to go online at least some of the time. Hence, brands will need to ensure that their websites are mobile-friendly and they flow with ease. Consumers will be attracted to this, thus enhancing customer experience resulting in increased revenue.
Focusing on mobile, organizations also need to use social media to market their products as a majority of users who are mostly on their mobile devices tend to be either on Facebook, Instagram or TikTok. More and more people are joining social media, as the number of global users using the sites reached 4.20 billion in January according to Datareportal.
To achieve the full potential of social media, organizations may employ the use of influencers so that they can give their honest opinion as well as speak on more personal level with their followers. This will eventually see a rise in revenue as more people rely on online advertisements from people they follow or know rather than from the company’s pages or accounts.
The changes made during the pandemic are crucial as they create a new norm. Brands that are not left behind in the shift will come out winners post-pandemic. 2021 is predicted to be a year full of optimism, not only for the population but for the economy as well. However, it will only be felt by those who follow the rules of the new business environment.