The spread of COVID-19 has triggered unprecedented measures worldwide in order to deal with public health as best as possible. The shutdown in place since the end of March 2020 has forced many businesses to transform the way they operate, with some sectors under the obligation to remain closed for much longer periods than others.

A lot of businesses have however adapted very quickly and found alternative ways to trade while confinement measures were in place.

During the lockdown, many hardware shops and small garden centres for instance have been able to continue trading with a click & collect facility. A lot of small restaurants, pubs and craft breweries have also quickly started posting take-away options online in tandem with a click & collect or a delivery system. Some local independent bookshops have introduced bundle offers for instance on a daily or weekly basis as well as postal deliveries.

Online shops remain open during lockdown

In all cases, the common denominator to these success stories is

  • An existing online presence
  • An e-commerce section in the form of a virtual shop window which customers can browse from home
  • A shopping cart facility

What the new COVID-19 situation has highlighted for a large number of businesses is not only the importance of having a strong online presence, but also the option of accepting payments on their websites. In order to continue trading, a lot of businesses have had to set up a basic e-commerce facility that – in many cases – did not exist before.

New business models

In parallel, the disruption to traditional business practices under the lockdown rules has also revealed new potential avenues in terms of communication with customers and financial transactions.

WhatsApp, Skype or Google hangouts are established video call software. But during the crisis, a web conferencing platform like Zoom has emerged as a very easy alternative way to communicate online – and for online group lessons!

And while credit cards or PayPal are established payment methods, new players like the Revolut app also give online traders new options to complete sales online.

It now remains to be seen if the current disruptions to the existing business environment will become the new normal once all lockdown rules are completely lifted.

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