As many predicted, England is now entering into a new lockdown, albeit not quite as strict as its predecessor, but debilitating for the UK economy nonetheless.
As a business there are two approaches to this new threat – Approach one: Do nothing, hope for the best and pray that the government bailout will keep you afloat; or Approach two: Plan for the worst. Unfortunately hope has never been the best strategy.
What very quickly became clear back in April was that there were some businesses, like supermarkets, perspex manufacturers, hot tub companies and chicken hutch purveyors, who were going to flourish.
Conversely, other businesses weren’t going to be so lucky.
Many businesses who found themselves in the latter group chose to go into hibernation, furloughing staff and essentially closing down operations until such a time as they could reboot.
Others looked to find ways to pivot.
There are now numerous examples of businesses that reimagined their processes - pubs offering takeaways; retailers creating live-stream shopping channels and bakeries selling home baking kits.
They say necessity is the handmaiden of innovation – and as these brave, imaginative and agile businesses show, they’d be right!
The relaxing of the restrictions in July led to many businesses breathing a collective sigh of relief and trying to find ways to return to ‘normal’, but as our current situation shows, we are a long way from ‘normal’ and many pundits are predicting that ‘normal’ will never exist again.
It’s becoming increasingly clear that failing to adapt will lead to the one inevitable conclusion: extinction.
The good news for the organisations that didn’t manage to execute ‘the pivot’ the first time around there is still time – and in most cases a full pivot is not necessary.
The key for lockdown-proofing your business is in diagnosing the new customer journey.
This means understanding what your brand means to your customers under lockdown. It’s all about empathy and relevance. Don’t try and sell me a car, but do tell me how to keep it roadworthy, and if you play your cards right you’ll potentially get a sale on a service plan.
It also means understanding how you can make the sale as pain free as possible - I don’t stop wanting a fresh loaf of sourdough at the weekend - I’m just nowhere near my favourite bakery round the corner from my office. Online, click and collect, via platforms such as Amazon, Shopify etc offer solutions.
Finally workout how to keep your customers informed and engaged beyond the sale. Give me something to do, a distraction or a way to experience the brand beyond the product.
We’ve been working with a luxury retailer, whose physical stores were rendered obsolete in lockdown, to understand, map and innovate around individual customer occasions and missions.
Driving relevance and personalisation in the run up to Christmas will be critical as gifting is a key revenue stream at this time of year, and now more so in terms of the digital Christmas - so more attention needs to be given to the how they buy question - making it easy to send a gift directly to the recipient.
Lockdown and the tier system is not going to magically disappear, quite the reverse. So now is the time to answer the three killer questions:
What does my brand mean to customers under Lockdown?