New normal: Keeping your business afloat

Tuesday June 23 2020

A man rides a motorcycle to make a delivery.

A man rides a motorcycle to make a delivery. Businesses will have to embrace innovation and find better ways to deliver results. PHOTO | DAVID LUBOWA 

In the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, businesses must learn how to survive the current shocks, with the help of the right technologies. That is the first step to acquiring best practices for business continuity in post Covid-19 era.

Going digital is the new normal from paying bills, ordering services, attending Zoom meetings as opposed to going back to, ‘business as usual’ .

At first, Simon Singiza, a digital marketer says they have focused on online tactics since movement has been restricted following lockdown rules. “We specialised in marketing for the hospitality industry with both online and offline strategies." 

However, as a result of Covid-19, we have been pushed to diversify our clientele not only businesses in the hospitality but also companies outside tourism.

“Adopting to the use of facebook and whatssap adverts coupled with search engine optimisation while relying on zoom meetings and phone calls to close deals,” Singiza says.

Noah Baalessanvu, head of technology business at Savannah affirms, “You can’t go back to office with the same number of people due to social distancing and all other instituted measures. It is either keep people working at home or use work shifts. Meanwhile, the business owners will incur rent costs when employers can still offer the same services while working from home.”


The need to address changes
Brick and mortar business which rely on foot traffic will have to alter their strategy and include online orders and deliveries. If not, they will bear the brunt of fewer customers going to their shops.

During the lockdown, when movement is restricted, the need for food, products and services hasn’t been taken away but the ability to fulfil the need has been taken away.

However due to the limited movement, many businesses were not operating because they were solely dependent on walk-in customers .

Baalessanvu highlights some areas that businesses can work on to keep their businesses afloat.

“The first change is to provide access to products and services. Businesses that digitised their access; offering services online are still thriving. A case in point is Jumia that has remained in business all this time. One can stay in the comfort of their home and receive their products or services,” Baalessanvu explains.

Non-traditional thinkers such as restaurants, would also have to digitalise operations. Although delivery is one component of the whole equation, (the tail end of the transaction order), attracting a client to take an order and make payment is another tug of war.

Assess product
Baalessanvu emphasses, it is vital to assess if the product is ready to be digitalised. For instance, a hardware business has a specific location. It is administered where most construction sites are mushrooming.

However, during the lockdown, many projects stopped because some people were not making the money to continue with the construction and were not able to transport or get materials.

Aricultural businesses continued operating during the lock down. Food is an ultimate necessity. Ultimately, Jumia adjusted and added dry foods to their delivery service, which was not the case before .

Physical meetings have reduced with the birth of new virtual spaces via Zoom meetings. “On a massive scale, one can do many things online and save money hence the businesses that consider value in the ‘new normal’, will thrive in post lockdown.

However, those who try to go back to life as previously, will incur more costs and soon will be outcompeted,” Baalessanvu adds.

Understand your business
The business approach differs from one’s speciality in doing business. If one is delivering goods, the interface will be on the delivery side like Jumia.

“If it is about goods, then one is streamlining how the orders are placed; how deliveries and payments are made and communicating delivery charges,” reveals Silver Kayondo, Technology and corporate lawyer.

All service providers need connectivity and the right skills to deliver the goods and services according to their clients’ needs.

There is need for a platform of delivery. Are people contacting you via social media, an application or a website? You need an interface within which people can connect to ease any business moving forward.

The faster businesses adapt and embrace digital transformation, the better it shall be for the companies. Going forward, businesses will be compelled to embrace innovation and find better ways to deliver results.

Operating your business online
Online business account
Singiza notes that operating a Facebook or Whatsapp business account is a now a necessity.
“However, to get amazing results, one has to make an investment in time, money and resources. The level of investment varies on what your business is pitching and its relevance to the market. It requires being quick to respond to inquiries and taking time to analyse the markets reactions to your adverts or product and adjust accordingly,” Singiza says.

He continues, “If you are a starter, you need to identify who your actual client is and what need your product is solving. Start with those immediate potential clients on your contact list, social media account before venturing into paid adverts. Once you have exhausted this, then you can explore the open market with paid adverts."