Reimagining Your Business During COVID-19 and Beyond

Tzipi Avioz & Luca Cassina - April 3, 2020

For business leaders in an escalating crisis, much of the day is spent reacting to urgent, time-sensitive needs – resolving short-term challenges, ensuring employee safety, and quickly responding to daily changes happening in the ecosystem.

In its guide to navigating the COVID-19 epidemic, BCG’s Henderson Institute calls this Reaction. For Mirakl-powered Marketplace operators, the reaction phase is all about leveraging the marketplace platform to match supply with demand, with measures like

1. Expanding and diversifying your seller portfolio,

2. Adding marketplace offers for top-selling products, and

3. Working with sellers to ensure shipping timelines. (Find a complete list of tactical recommendations in our complimentary brief on marketplace operations during COVID-19.)

But while every company was understandably focusing on the day-to-day during the COVID-19 crisis, not many were preparing for what came after. By doing so, they were leaving a massive opportunity on the table.

What was interesting to see was that 14% of companies across all sectors actually grew their top and bottom lines during recessions and downturns. What did these companies all have in common? They were using the opportunity to double down on long-term transformation plans. In many cases, that meant investing in an innovative, asset-light, agile platform strategy – one that could quickly adapt to consumer demands then and in a post-COVID future.

The 2002 SARS epidemic gives us a hint of what the future may hold. The epidemic is credited as a game-changer for commerce, marking a turning point for the adoption of eCommerce in China and the rise of Alibaba. Chinese consumers drove the transformation by shifting their in-store purchases online. At the same time, Alibaba made a move that would forever change its business – it made a big push into B2C. 18 years later, B2C is the backbone of Alibaba’s eCommerce empire, reaching 711 million active online shoppers in 2019.

There’s no time like the present to look ahead: while the post-COVID economy seems far off in many parts of the world, there’s already evidence that a recovery is beginning in China.

The recovery would reveal newly-entrenched learnings, attitudes, habits, and needs in consumers, all of which would shape the economy. Each of us could start to identify these shaping forces for our own businesses by asking two questions:

  1. What was being revealed about my business during the COVID-19 crisis?

  2. How will we meet our customers’ new needs?

A clear example can be found in the grocery sector. Online grocery orders are surging, with 31% of U.S. consumers making online purchases to avoid shopping in-store. Assuming that consumers have a positive experience, we can expect that the “new normal” in a post-COVID world will have much higher volumes of online ordering than in the past.

Consider, too, B2B industries, which have been slower to digitize than their consumer-facing counterparts. As supply chain disruptions increase, buyers are turning to digital platforms that connect them with the producers who have in-stock products they need.

The marketplace, launched by Mirakl in partnership with the French government, showed how platforms could solve these supply and demand challenges. With the marketplace, health care providers and others on the front line were able to purchase hand sanitizing gel, gloves, and other protective equipment in short supply through traditional channels.

The specifics will differ from organization to organization, but the fundamentals are sound: To prepare your business to flourish during the rebound, you must do more than react to your business’s day-to-day needs. Each of us must look ahead to the Reimagination. Let’s keep innovating and do things differently – and together, we’ll thrive in this rapidly-changing world.

Tzipi Avioz & Luca Cassina,
Tzipi and Luca are Executive Vice Presidents of Customer Success at Mirakl. Together, they are responsible for Mirakl’s 200+ customers globally.

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