Business, Digital transformation, COVID 19

COVID 19 is a digital growth catalyst for your business

Rabbi Cheeran Benny, June 10, 2020

The world is changing, acceptance of smartphone and internet is becoming new normal in day to day life. Before COVID 19 society has a second taught to buy and sell products online, now they are accepting technology and online payments from education to purchasing grocery. This opens a great future for the shift into the digital way of business and offline businesses forced to innovate a digital alternative or digital intervention for survival. Let’s examine what businesses could adapt to technology as an catalyst and multiply revenue in this pandemic. Here we are looking forward to 2 topics,
1, Brand adaptation - taking a look at an actual case on how brands adapt to COVID-19.
2, Recover approach in order to enter into the ‘Next Normal’ or the ‘New Normal’.
We are in a war and we do not know when it is going to end. Therefore, brands and businesses have to adapt the change, from offline to online in order to reach out to their customers. Let’s see how brands can convert this into an opportunity. Today I have three aspects to share with you,
1) Understanding customer insight, by tackling customer’s consciousness, try to learn what they need and how they feel during this time. Do they panic? Or what are their concerns?
2) Brand value, do more in term of reimagining brand in online space.
3) Social commerce or have access to an online platform which customers can access seamlessly.
I would say these are three keys for a business to survive, business owners have to keep it in mind and put it into practice.

Understanding customer insight

Let’s look a case into an example from the food and beverage industry, which is very crucial to everyone life. In this pandemic, all the restaurant has to operate by selling takeaway or delivery service for most of their orders. The question is how can they be on ‘Top of Mind’ of the consumers? What can they do to make consumers think of them when it comes to breakfast, lunch, or dinner? The first case is about KFC, well-known fried chicken and fast-food brand that we all love and we usually eat in the restaurant or order it through delivery and restaurant applications, but when all the department stores are closed or peoples are not walking in, what KFC do to make sure they will be on ‘Top of Mind’ of the consumers? The method that KFC use is to promote the brand through ‘Digital Channels’. Digital Channel advertisement of the brand appears on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and other social apps you use daily. When we pick up our phone, we will see KFC banner pop up on our screen. When consumers see such advertisement even when it is not mealtime, it can generate demands. When the brand promotes its promotion, consumers might find it interesting and feel the urge to order. This channel of advertising is a significant first step because when the brand advertises digitally, it can reach to over millions of users it could make the brand become more outstanding. It is not only in the picture but this type of advertisement also has video function to create a lively atmosphere. This type of advertisement also includes an online link for consumers to directly order through the delivery application, so this advertisement function alone can close the sale. And if consumers worry about the safety and hygiene, now they are also offering ‘Contactless Delivery Concept’. In the short function of advertisement cover from the first stage where consumers see the ad then the need to buy emerge, they can easily order it through the online channel until the last stage where the food is being delivered safely. During the current situation where everyone in the market selling through online channel and delivery, the number of competitors is surely high. So all food and beverage brand should consider the fact that it is not only ten to hundreds of restaurants like in department store, but when it comes to online channel the number increase to thousands or ten thousand competitors. It is critical to make your business outstanding.

Brand value

Now let’s focus on the brand value, which is to create brand value, or how the customers perceive to the brand. Previously people have the perception that to buy stuff, we need to go out and only do it through an offline channel. But during the crisis, if we do not let customers know that we also have online services or online channel to support them, they might not realize that we do provide service. Therefore, we need to change customer perception and let them know that we also have online services to provide. For example, when we do not feel well we seek for a doctor visit at a hospital. But to go to the hospital during this time also causes concern, some people might be afraid that they will cause more work for medical staff or some afraid to be infected. As a result, hospitals offer consultant service regarding health issues under the concept of ‘Virtual Hospital’. So, we do not have to go to the hospital but can get advice through virtual hospital via an online platform. Once we connect to the online platform, we will notice another brand value, which they try to understand the steps that the patient goes through when they go to the hospital. In the actual hospital, we need to register and be screened by the nurse before meeting the doctor. This virtual hospital follows the same steps but through online medium. The result that the doctor diagnosed will be sent back to you through this channel. Everything that the patients have to go through is the same as when we go to the hospital but we do not have to travel.
Hospitals also provide a pre-assessment test for COVID-19 through online channel everyone can go check whether you are in a risk group for COVID-19 or not, if yes, the hospitals can also provide drive-through service which you can make an appointment in advance. These are the services that can help reduce the risk and promote social distancing. This process also reduces the unnecessary workload for medical staff.
Let’s look into the automotive industry which is high-value products no one would ever think that automotive industry will be affected by the spreading COVID-19 for example, one of the biggest events of the year like a motor show which usually took place in March got cancelled because of COVID-19. The automotive industry can recover from this situation by list out fresh and second-handed cars to sell online. During this time, understanding the concern of their customer that does not want to go out, so they can provide ‘test-drive at home’ service. Customers can make an appointment and office staff will bring the car to test-drive at your place. So who would have thought that one day we will buy a car through an Application and even have someone bring it home for us to test-drive? You might be one of the customers in the future.
Now, let’s focus on maintenance service, we can use an online channel to communicate with the customer. We can tell that your car requires maintenance service or we can send notifications to customers that your car needs to come for maintenance service. It is a way to communicate with a customer faster with an automated system. One day in the future, the customer might not need to come to car showroom ever again we can just communicate through our Application, send someone to pick up the car at your place and send the car back when it’s done. The application can be the main communication channel between us and the customer. It is like turning crisis into opportunity, from the traditional way that they have to come to showroom but now we can easily communicate through an application. It is not only about selling products but also to maintain service with a customer, there is always an opportunity in every crisis in this case it is an application that all business can utilize so much. I seriously think that after the crisis end digital presence will be mandatory for all type of businesses. I would suggest trying to figure out in what aspects your business could improve brand value by implementing online presence.

Social commerce

Now all brand and business cannot deny online platform, if you did not have it, I think it is not too late to start now. If your business already has an online platform, meaning you have somewhat prepared yourself for the situation like this so that your business can continue to operate. Now let’s take a look into retail businesses, as we all know that retail business is one of the businesses that got affected the most due to the government regulation that orders them to close down all the department store. The first order was to close down 2 weeks and right now it was extended to uncertain. It is a big challenge for retails business to survive. However, in the challenge, there is always a way to serve the need of their customers. The first retail case we will talk about is the case of Fresh to Home. Fresh to Home has already had its platform connect to their customers. When the department store has to close down, they understand that their customers are still seeking for high-value products. While the department store was shut down, the demand for these customers was never shut. Fresh to Home implemented technology and automated their business. The customer of Fresh to Home who already knows what they need can browsing on www.freshtohome.com find the items and link directly to payment gateway. It is proof that no matter small, medium, or large-scale business, they can all adapt this tool to their own business. It took only 1 week to set up the tool and ready to make a sale. The customers will always be waiting for us to do something for them it depends on us whether we will approach them or not.
Now let’s look into another business who know that customers need product advice throughout their purchase service in term of consultation and advice when they buy a product they need suggestion from representatives. When the stores are close down, they have to find a way that this service can carry on. We can use ‘Live’ channel to solve this problem, they go live on their online platform this option can serve 2 purposes first is to continue their sale and second is to keep their service presence through online. On their ‘Live’, each day they can sell different products and each day with a different promotion where customer can communicate with sales person via live comment, representative of business can answer customer’s questions real-time. If the customers required in-depth information they can contact them over the phone this function can understand the need of customers, as customers not only need service but they might need to consult with someone they are familiar with. So if you watch their live and interest in some products you can convert it into sales. If we keep looking for new tools and opportunity and continue to develop our business, we find something to offer to our customers.


In the time of crisis, all the brand has learned many things but most importantly, it is the time where they see their flaw. It is also the time where every brand needs to fix their flaw and figure out what are they going to do next and make sure they are ready to handle the situation after the crisis. Let’s capture 3 takeaway points, where business can apply as a preparation checklist.
First, most of the business might already have an online presence, however, in the past demand for the online channel was not that high, but with this current situation, confirm your platform ready to support high traffic (demand) or not? Do you have enough manpower to answer all requests and to handle logistics?
Secondly is about conversational commerce. By nature of consumer’s behaviour, people love having a conversation or asking for information. So, all the brands should have a social commerce platform, such as WhatsApp Business which is an easy way to start with and assign a representative to serve customer request.
Last but not least, all brand should consider collecting and utilizing customer data. We have been discussing the importance of data for quite a while, maybe during this crisis is a perfect time. Businesses that have collected customer data will be able to make use of it by analysing and sending the online promotion to their customer. Businesses that never done it before, this is also a good time to start doing so. So that we can use this data to improve our business in the future.
It is not only about to adapt yourself to the current crisis, opportunity, or new solution. But most importantly, we need to look ahead to the future. Let’s recap the opportunity that we should start doing today.
1) Manage the challenge of rapid demand, are you ready to support all the demand?
2) Conversational commerce.
3) Data, we have been saying this for quite a while that data is the new oil. Today it becomes a New Normal, and if you don’t have it, you might get left behind.