As we move further into the post-pandemic era, we understand that businesses are seeking guidance on how to thrive and grow in the changing landscape and tightening economy. In this article, we will explore valuable strategies and insights to help you navigate the path to success in the recovery phase.
1. Understanding the new business landscape
The post-pandemic era brought with it, new trends and shifts in consumer and employee behaviour, so understanding the current market landscape is essential for your business’ success. Monitoring these shifts and analysing industry and economic trends is critical in identifying emerging challenges and opportunities. Below we have listed some of the recent industry trends since the pandemic.
Post-pandemic industry trends
Accelerated e-commerce adoption
The pandemic significantly accelerated the shift towards online shopping. A 2022 report from Australia Post found 9.4 million households in Australia made an online purchase, representing 82% of all households. Whilst 2022 saw a period of stabilised growth in e-commerce compared to the large increases throughout 2020 and 2021, overall consumers have become more comfortable with making purchases online, leading to increased demand for user-friendly e-commerce platforms and digital payment solutions.
Focus on health and wellness
This has taken centre stage as consumers and employees prioritise their well-being. There is now a greater recognition of the importance of mental health both individually as well in the workplace and an increased demand for products and services that promote physical and mental health, such as fitness equipment, organic food, wellness apps, hours of work and working from home.
Remote work and digital services
The widespread adoption of remote work during the pandemic led to a surge in digital services and tools supporting virtual collaboration, video conferencing, project management, and remote team management. Working from home is now a widespread and highly normalised practice in Australia and globally. An ABS survey found that nearly half (46%) of all Australian employees now work from home to some degree, and flexible work arrangements are here to stay.
Sustainability and ethical consumerism
Consumers are becoming more conscious of their environmental impact and are actively seeking sustainable and eco-friendly products and services. There is a growing preference for brands that prioritise ethical sourcing, responsible production, and corporate social responsibility. An Australia Post Survey from December 2022 found that more than 60% of Australian consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable and ethically made products. Corporations are now being assessed on their commitment to practice environmental and social sustainability and to be good stewards of the environment and the social landscapes in which they operate. This involves protecting the interests of all stakeholders, such as employees, customers, suppliers and the communities in which businesses operate.
Digital entertainment and streaming services
With more time spent at home, there has been a surge in demand for digital entertainment, including streaming services, online gaming and virtual events. This trend has reshaped the entertainment industry and created new opportunities for content creators and digital platforms.
Rise of subscription-based models
Subscription-based services have gained popularity across various industries, including media streaming, meal kits and beauty products. Consumers appreciate the convenience, cost-effectiveness and personalised offerings of subscription services.
Understanding these shifts in consumer behaviour and industry trends will enable you to adapt your strategy, revise your products and services to meet evolving customer needs and stay competitive in the post-pandemic landscape.
- Artificial intelligence (AI) will enable any business to leverage its power to create more intelligent products and services. For example, Stitch Fix uses AI-enabled algorithms to recommend clothes to its customers that match their sizes and tastes. AI will also augment nearly every job in every business process across industries.
- The Metaverse is gaining increased traction. The outcome is a more immersive internet where we will be able to work, play, and socialise on a consistent platform. Experts predict that the metaverse will add $5 trillion to the global economy by 2030, and 2023 will be the year that defines the direction of the metaverse for the next decade. Microsoft are already developing metaverse platforms for collaborating on digital projects.
- Blockchain technology will also advance significantly in 2023 as companies create more decentralized products and services. As an example, today we are storing everything in the cloud — but if we decentralize data storage and encrypt that data using blockchain, our information will not only be safer, but we will have innovative ways to access and analyse it.
- Nanotechnology will enable us to create materials with completely new features, such as water resistance and self-healing capabilities. In 2023 we will see gene editing technology accelerate to give us the increasing capability to “edit nature” by altering DNA, which is both exciting and terrifying at the same time!
- Quantum computing, which uses subatomic particles to create new ways of processing and storing information, is a technological leap that is expected to bring us computers capable of operating a trillion times more quickly than the fastest traditional processors available today.
- Autonomous Systems continue to progress particularly around delivery and logistics. Many factories and warehouses have already become partially or fully autonomous. In 2023, we will see even more self-driving trucks and ships, as well as delivery robots — and even more warehouses and factories will implement autonomous technology.
The current economic landscape
Since the record levels of stimulus were implemented during the pandemic, Australia has now experienced a surge in inflation due to numerous factors such as the conflict in Ukraine and delays in the construction industry. In response, the aggressive approach to tighten monetary policy from the Reserve Bank has resulted in higher living costs across the board.
In 2022, the labour market in Australia became significantly tighter, with the unemployment rate dropping to 3.5% in the third quarter, compared to the average of 5.1% in 2021. However, despite the tight labour market, wage growth was lacklustre, standing at 2.4% for the 2021/22 fiscal year and an expected 2.9% for the 2022 calendar year. In real terms, wage growth turned negative, declining from nearly zero in previous years to -3% in September 2022.
The outlook for the Australian economy throughout this year remains uncertain. Inflation is expected to moderate, but it is unlikely to reach the Reserve Bank of Australia’s target range of 2-3% within the year.
Notably, Australia is not the only country implementing tighter monetary policy, as central banks globally are raising interest rates. The US Federal Reserve aggressively increased its target for the federal funds rate in 2022, reaching 3.75-4.00% by November, starting from the near-zero lower bound at the beginning of the year. Consequently, the global economy is likely to face reduced growth prospects and increased economic uncertainty as efforts are made to normalise inflation.
(Information extracted from the article “The Australian Economy in 2022–23: Inflation and Higher Interest Rates in a Post-COVID-19 World” by Sarantis Tsiaplias and Jiao Wang)
2. Build business resilience and adaptability
In these times of change and uncertainty, it is crucial to enhance your business’ resilience and adaptability. Foster a culture of agility within your organisation by encouraging innovation and experimentation. Continuously evaluate your strategies and make necessary adjustments to stay responsive to market dynamics and customer demands. You can do this by:
Conduct a comprehensive risk assessment
Identify potential risks and vulnerabilities that your business may face in the post-pandemic environment. This includes assessing financial risks, supply chain disruptions and regulatory challenges. Develop contingency plans to mitigate these risks and establish protocols to address future uncertainties. These contingency plans can include:
- Explore new markets.
- Diversify product or service offerings.
- Develop complementary revenue streams.
- Establishing strong relationships with multiple suppliers.
- Enhancing cybersecurity protocols.
- Conducting regular internal audits.
- Conducting training programs.
Embrace evolving technological changes and digital transformation
The pandemic accelerated the digital transformation across various industries. Assess your current digital capabilities and identify any gaps or areas for improvement to determine what needs to be upgraded or developed further to keep up to date with the latest technology trends.
Then, invest in the technology and digital tools that will bring that value. These can include:
- Cloud computing – platforms like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud.
- Data analytics tools – such as Tableau, Power BI, or Google Analytics.
- Customer relationship management (CRM) systems – platforms like Salesforce, HubSpot, or Zoho CRM.
- E-commerce platforms – such as Shopify, WooCommerce, or Magento.
- Collaboration and communication tools – like Slack, Microsoft Teams or Zoom.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) – such as chatbots for customer support, recommendation systems for personalised marketing, fraud
detection, predictive maintenance, or image and speech recognition.
- Cybersecurity solutions – tools such as firewalls, antivirus software, encryption tools or intrusion detection systems.
- Mobile Apps – to engage with customers on their smartphones or tablets and offer personalised experiences, loyalty programs, push notifications and mobile payments.
It is important to lead by example by continuously learning new digital skills and being open to change. Embracing technology will allow you to streamline your operations, improve efficiency and give you a competitive edge.
Strengthen supplier and partner relationships
Strong supplier and partner relationships require ongoing effort and commitment. Regularly assess and invest in the relationships to ensure they remain mutually beneficial, adaptable, and resilient over time. Maintain open lines of communication and develop backup plans to ensure continuity in case of disruptions.
How to strengthen supplier relationships:
- Prioritise a thorough evaluation process when selecting suppliers and partners (Consider factors such as quality, reliability, responsiveness, financial stability and their ability to meet your specific requirements).
- Regularly communicate expectations, requirements and updates.
- Regularly discuss and reassess objectives to ensure alignment and adaptability.
- Share industry trends, insights and market intelligence that can benefit both parties.
- Collaborate on joint initiatives, innovation projects, or process improvement activities.
- Address issues promptly and find mutually agreeable solutions.
- Show appreciation to suppliers for their efforts through awards, incentives, or preferential treatment.
3. Prioritise customer retention and loyalty
Investing time and money in strategies that build strong customer relationships is important to achieve repeat business. The aim is to build long-term relationships with your customers rather than individual transactions. Here are some strategies to help you encourage customer loyalty:
Maintain strong communication with your customers through various channels, understand their evolving needs and personalise your offerings accordingly. Leverage customer feedback and data analytics to improve your products, services and overall customer experience.
Some ways to stay connected are:
- Customer newsletters and email marketing – Provide valuable information (not spam!) to your customers, including latest product updates, specials and events.
- Social media – Use relevant platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter or Tiktok (depending on your business) to engage with your customers.
- Live Chat – Install a live chat feature on your site or customer portal to allow people to ask questions and get instant support.
Provide exceptional customer service
Deliver exceptional customer service at every touchpoint. Train your customer service team to be knowledgeable, empathetic and responsive to customer needs. Address enquiries and resolve issues promptly to show your commitment to customer satisfaction. Occasionally surprise your customers with unexpected gestures or rewards to create a positive and memorable experience. This can include personalized thank-you notes, birthday offers or unique gifts. These small acts of appreciation go a long way in fostering customer loyalty and generating positive word-of-mouth.
Loyalty Programs and Incentives – Implement a customer loyalty program that rewards your customers for their continued support. Offer incentives such as exclusive discounts, freebies or access to special events. The program should be easy to understand, attainable and provide tangible benefits that encourage repeat purchases and engagement.
Consistent Branding and Messaging – Maintain consistent branding and messaging across all customer touchpoints. This helps build recognition, trust and a sense of familiarity with your brand. Consistency in your brand image and values reinforces customer loyalty and fosters a strong emotional connection.
(Tip: Using a tool such as the Scaling Up “Define Your Sandbox” will help you uncover what sets you apart from the competition and drive customer loyalty.)
By implementing these strategies, you are going beyond basic transactions and demonstrating genuine care and interest in your customer’s needs. Building loyalty is an ongoing process that requires consistent effort and a customer-centric approach.
4. Professional development and upskilling
Your greatest asset is your team. Investing in their professional development and upskilling is crucial for keeping your business competitive. Invest in relevant training programs, workshops and online courses that can enhance your employees’ skills, boosting overall productivity and innovation within your organisation.
Here are some strategies to help you prioritise continuous learning and development among your team members:
Assess individual development needs and set clear goals
Start by assessing the current skills, strengths and areas for improvement within your team. Conduct performance reviews, individual assessments and gather feedback to identify the specific development needs of each team member. Then, work with each team member to set clear, measurable development goals that align with their role, career aspirations and the needs of your business. These goals should be specific, achievable and relevant to their professional growth.
Provide learning opportunities, feedback and coaching
Offer a range of learning opportunities to cater to different learning styles and preferences. This can include:
- Access to online learning platforms like Udemy, Coursera or LinkedIn Learning, where team members can take relevant courses and acquire new skills. (Tip: Join our free 45 minute webinars bi-monthly, from everything People, Strategy, Execution and Cash.)
- Arrange for industry experts to conduct workshops or training sessions on specific topics or technologies.
- Encourage team members to attend relevant conferences.
- Research industry certifications.
- Explore mentoring programs.
Encourage team members to take advantage of these opportunities and provide support and resources to facilitate their participation. Regularly provide constructive feedback and coaching to help team members identify areas for improvement and enhance their skills.
To allow the opportunity for team members to share their knowledge and expertise with one another, facilitate regular team meetings, knowledge-sharing sessions and peer-to-peer learning opportunities. This promotes a culture of continuous learning and collaboration within your team.
Offer stretch assignments and challenging projects
Provide team members with opportunities to take on stretch assignments or challenging projects that push their limits and help them develop new skills. Assign projects that align with their development goals and provide the necessary support and guidance throughout the process.
For example, assign a team member to lead a project that involves collaboration with individuals from different departments or teams. This requires them to navigate diverse perspectives, coordinate tasks and develop their project management and communication skills.
Another example is to assign a team member to spearhead the development of a new product or service offering. This involves conducting market research, defining product requirements, collaborating with different teams (e.g., marketing, design, development) and overseeing the product launch process.
Remember, professional development and upskilling should be an ongoing process. Regularly revisit development goals, provide feedback and assess progress to ensure that your team members are continuously growing and acquiring new skills to meet the evolving needs of your business.
As trusted business consultants, we are committed to your success and growth. We encourage you to take proactive steps toward implementing the strategies discussed in this article. Remember, our expert team is always here to support you and provide personalised guidance tailored to your unique business needs.
We look forward to helping you navigate the post-pandemic recovery and achieve remarkable results. Stay tuned for our future articles where we will continue to provide you with valuable insights and resources.
Wishing you continued success!