The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

by Adam Basheer, on 13-May-2020 14:32:14

Australia seems to be in a very good position regarding the COVID-19 virus and we are hoping for the world as we knew it to open up slowly again. But will it be the world we knew? This term “the new normal” is in my opinion a load of rubbish. After every natural disaster, be it flood, fire, earthquake, tsunami or whatever, we go back to our way of life. We quickly forget (three years or so) and move on.  

That does not mean that we do not make some changes and those changes can be both good and bad for business. So, what are the short and medium-term changes that might affect us in business and how might this play out? 

The Good 

Local Supply and Manufacture 

China has reminded us all just how dependent we are on their manufacturing. Though, not just China, the entire Asian region is our new manufacturing base and any restrictions in the flow of goods in this area will hurt us all tremendously. Government, and in particular defence, are taking extreme note. If we are to get cut off, the way of life we have will suffer greatly and effects will be seen within three months.  

What this will mean: 

  • A return to local manufacture and increase of support for local suppliers – both government and business. 
  • An increase in defence spending, particularly on local supply for that spending. 
  • An “offset style” program for specific necessary goods (e.g. face masks). That is a specific preference for a least part of the necessary goods to be produced in Australia. 

Zoom is the new normal 

Yes, we all like to meet one another in person. Yes, we have all had access to online video meetings for 10 years plus. However, now we will see that a normal first meeting with a new client will be an online video conference call. We have been forced into it now and most of us have found that…. it's not so bad. In fact, it's quite good. Saves time, saves travel costs and is much more convenient.  

What this will mean: 

  • A reduction in travel cost around the globe. 
  • Access to markets you might not have otherwise considered. 

Online presence has greater relevance 

During this crisis we have seen online searches increase by as much as 50% or more. Online purchase has also increased significantly as well as simply online contacts. Again, we have had access to all of this for decades now and it has been increasing constantly, but this crisis seems to have put it all on steroids. A bit like decreasing the resistance suddenly. Online will start to go faster. 

What this means: 

  • The online presence has never been more important. Clients of ours that are already set up and running well have simply run faster and faster. Those not yet set up properly have missed an opportunity, but don’t worry that opportunity is here to stay. 

The Bad 

See the above re a reduction in travel costs. This, put simply, means less money spent on flights and accommodation. Not just in the short term but in the long term. 

What this will mean: 

  • Airlines and hotels which rely on the business traveler will take a big hit. 
  • All sundry suppliers to this industry will need to look for new markets, not just in the short term but in the medium term also. 
  • If an airline or hotel chain or two collapse, this will increase costs for us all.  

See the above re online presence and retail online.  

What this will mean: 

  • Your traditional bricks and mortar stores will take a hit. I do not know when landlords are going to realise this and reduce rents, but perhaps now is the time. (OK, this is hopeful thinking but there will be a reckoning at some stage.) 
  • Discounting in the short term will be used to get more people into stores, but how far can this really go? There must be some innovation in retail for it to continue at the level it was before. I do not know what this will be but let’s hope it comes sooner rather than later. 

The Ugly 

We have already seen some of our favourite pubs and restaurants close their doors for good. Devastating for us in a hedonistic sort of way, but much more so for those involved. How many businesses can close their doors for two or three months and survive? It will be years before some of these businesses can come back into profitability. I can only imagine the stress some of them are under. With only slight restrictions being lifted now, many will still be wondering if it is worth opening their doors.  

What does this mean: 

  • Well it is ugly! Suppliers to these industries are suffering, though some may have been able to pick up a little if they were able to take advantage of the hoarding behaviour early in the crisis. Deep pockets or hanging on by your fingernails seem to be the only options.  

Summary for business and upside 

The saving grace for some of the bad and ugly may well be the federal government. Although I think they have gone too hard on the shutdown, better too hard than too soft I suppose. Australia seems to be in a very good position to rebound. Perhaps the best positioned in the word? Mining has not really been affected. Agriculture could have a good year from the early season rains. The federal stimulus package has widely been lorded as a good one.  Bounce back could be swift and good if you are light on your feet and prepared to change. Fingers crossed, toes too. Hope you can all be part of a good and prosperous result. 

Contact us today to discuss how we can strengthen your online presence.

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