Some Things May Never Be The Same Again

During the Covid-19 lockdowns, people in many countries and states in the US had been forced to make purchases using an app or on websites or other online platforms. As a result, online retailers like Amazon experienced difficulties in fulfilling the large volume of orders. Nevertheless, what many people found was that certain things that they had traditionally bought from brick and mortar stores could be obtained at a cheaper price online, and in greater variety and choices as well. They were also able to make comparisons and, in the process, became more knowledgeable about the products and the brands offering them. In addition, these people had no choice but to obtain certain goods and services which they never imagined could be made online. The ease in placing orders and in some cases, cancelling or making returns, would convince them of the merits of making purchases on the internet.

Many countries and states in the US had lifted their lockdowns and people could now drop by the mall to do their usual shopping or meals. However it would be a mistake to assume that things would return to pre Covid-19 days. During the lockdown, many retailers and food & beverage outlets were forced to offer their products online either through Apple or Android apps or on their websites. In the process, they not only discovered this new marketing channel  but its advantages as well. It is therefore likely that these businesses would continue with their online channel even as their  brick and mortar outlets open.

Certain authorities in the US had proclaimed never to impose another lockdown. Nevertheless, it remains to be seen whether the second wave of Covid-19 infections could be so devastating that another lockdown becomes inevitable.

All these changes have implications for startups. Whatever it is, the message is clear. A significant proportion of the business of any startup must be online one way or another. In fact, the higher the percentage, the better, since all signs point in that direction. Therefore startups should explore having apps or a website or the use of other online platforms to market their products and services.

Since startups are starting from scratch, they could avoid or minimize the problem of having large spaces. Such spaces could have mortgages ticking even if at best deferred by the creditor. Alternatively, the space could be rented from a landlord who even if he or she obliges with a discount or a delay in payment, would still need to be paid. This expense would be painful especially for those who may not generate any revenue at all during the lockdown.

Instead of fixed overheads locked up in large spaces used in the traditional way, startups should consider downsizing the space requirement. Instead, efforts should be made to invest more to meet fulfillment needs from online orders. Instinctively, this approach would be strange to many entrepreneurs who may have obtained their experience and expertise in their fields the traditional way. However, this would have been the same feeling felt by many retailers and F&B outlets which may have, in the past, never sold anything online in pre Covid-19 days.  As a result of Covid-19, those who came out ahead were those who could make the transition successfully.

Therefore, the successful startup would be one in which the entrepreneur is future ready no matter what happens.