How can businesses set themselves up to be as immune proof to Coronavirus / COVID-19 as possible?
If the mention of the word Coronavirus is enough to make you break out into a cold sweat over the potential fall out to your business, spare a thought for the beer brand Corona who were mid-way through a $40 million US marketing spend for its new Corona Hard Seltzer with a tag line of “Coming Ashore Soon”. It’s going well – Not.
Never has there been a more crucial time for brands and businesses to build trust.
Consumers and your staff need consistency, balance, authenticity and communication.
Your business needs informed leadership, a decent risk assessment, a contingency plan to cover risks, along with a growth mindset of not only how to get through this but how to find alternate or new opportunities.
People in general need a sense of love and connection in these isolating times. To quote one of the forefathers of customer service Zig Ziglar; “If people like you, they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you”.
In light of the coronavirus, we’ve learned how to wash our hands for 20 seconds, memorised what percentage of alcohol is necessary in hand sanitizer to kill the virus (at least 60 percent), stopped going to “mass gathering” events and been blasted with terms such as “social distancing”.
While guidelines from health officials are helpful and awareness about the coronavirus is valuable, it’s difficult to figure out which aspects of daily life we should change and which ones we can maintain in order to have some semblance of normalcy in our lives.
With all the information out there, it feels as though we are simultaneously being told to brace for the worst and to keep calm, carry on, and try to live our lives as normally as possible.
We need businesses to help keep us in the loop and connected. The stock markets are crashing partly because investors can not get an accurate gauge on how businesses will operate.
Key advice sites for Australian employers
Travel advice can be found at https://www.smartraveller.gov.au/
If you are concerned about yourself or a customer or staff member having the virus, a National Coronavirus Health Information Line has been set up: 1800 020 080. It operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Really though it is hard to get through on this number and it may be hard for staff members to get a doctors’ appointment if they simply have a cold but have not been overseas or exposed to a confirmed case. If this is the case it would be reasonable to request, they touch in with you daily until such time as they can and allow some room for them to sensibly seek advice.
How can you build brand trust as a business owner / employer during a health pandemic?
- Keep your website and internet details up to date – particularly if you are open or closed.
- Become fully informed – follow World Health Organisation and government advisory.
- Implement stringent health precautions and safety measures.
- Make sure your staff understand to follow hygiene protocols to a T.
- Consider your financial and legal obligations.
- Develop a sensible plan and put practical measures in place.
- Provide clear guidance about what is expected of your workers if they are sick.
- Examine your market and supply chain to identify risks.
- Identify availability and alternate sources of your key products.
- Get on top of your financial reporting and stocktaking.
- Lead from the top down.
- Identify growth activities for your business.
- Examine opportunities to change customer behaviour or diversify your customer base.
- Support and buy local where possible.
- Communicate honestly and in a timely manner with your staff and customers.
- Keep communicating with your tribe, through emails, phone calls, posters, press releases and social media.
While it is important to take all sensible risk measures it is also important as business owners and employers to provide your staff and customers with a sense of calm and optimism.
Let your customers and staff know what you are doing. This includes:
- How will you be delivering your services?
- Will there be interruptions?
- What health and safety measures are you taking?
- Will there be delays in any parts or products and what will you be doing about this?
- What alternatives can people buy from you?
- Your online options.
How can you deliver a balance assured message particularly as the media goes into overdrive? Here are some valid points pharmacists are discussing:
- We know what it is – with recent genetic analysis confirming its origin between end of November and December 2019.
- We know how to detect the virus, since January 13 testing has been available.
- Isolation measures work, the situation in China is improving due to strong isolation controls.
- The virus can be wiped clean with proper sanitisation and hand washing.
- Science is on it globally, there are already vaccine prototypes and antiviral trials underway, rather freakily even human ones.
- Science is telling us all to drink a gin and tonic – that’s right chloroquine in quinine which is in tonic is the anti-malaria drug being considered as a viral treatment for COVID-19.
Contextual communication is key
Across the board staff and customers will need to feel reassured in difficult times and the way you deliver this message will leave a lasting impact. Different generations have different communication styles and modems.
Different social media platforms require you to have different tones, just like the recent Dolly Parton challenge meme with photos of her dressed to suit Linked In, Facebook, Instagram and Tinder shows so comically.
Information needs to be up to date – there is no point sending out irrelevant information.
Consider the values which this crisis is evoking. People are reflecting at this point upon family, keeping safe, supporting businesses and the economy. The community values leaders who; communicate well wishes, who lead by example by not travelling, self-isolate if necessary and make necessary business changes to keep their staff and customers safe.
Communication needs to come from the top which firmly puts small to medium business owners in an important driving seat.
B2B Businesses a basic press statement posted to your social channels with appropriate tone will help your community to feel more at ease.
Timely and honest communication with your customers and suppliers is important. Businesses you supply to need to be made aware of any issues with the delivery of your products and services and what contingency plans you have in place. Send texts if your services will be disrupted that day and emails for disruption in coming days and weeks.
B2C Businesses who have younger consumers need a reassuring yet still upbeat tone in their comms. You can do this by sharing a more fun hand washing post such as Ellen DeGeneres Instagram post about how to wash your hands correctly. Cafes, bars, bricks and mortar shops with younger patrons can make hand sanitising more fun with funky key points offering hand sanitiser and funny reminders such as the lyrics to Staying Alive being posted up on bathroom mirrors to encourage the 20 second wash.
A powerful retail sector are mothers with families, here text messaging and Facebook posting is a good way to reach through. Consider your tone and what mums need; reassurance, good advice, tips to keep their family safe. Consider direct EDM’s to mothers with links to schooling resources, recipes and boredom busting tips along with how they can access your services or products.
Older customers are most vulnerable and need the most amount of kindness. Facebook, direct emails and posted communication to those in a form of their own social isolation will be genuinely appreciated. Consider your older customers’ needs and how you can deliver this in this time of need.
Getting your communication and care factor right in this crisis will set you apart as a brand to truly trust in the future. Woolworths announcement that they will be teaming with meals on wheels and sending rolls of free toilet paper to those most in need, limiting purchase of high demand items, not accepting returns or rain checks and offering the first hour of shopping to elderly and those caring for those most at risk, is the type of brand leadership which the media and community is responding well to.
Give yourself a financial check-up and look for reprieves
It will help to know in advance what impact a slowdown will have on cash flow. Do you have enough reserve to stay afloat if your business was closed for a month? Do you have enough of a buffer to survive 3 months of downturned business?
Review and adjust your cash flow forecast to determine what affect a reduction in sales will have on your ability to pay suppliers and repay debt.
For a handy cash flow budget calculator try: https://www.australianbiz.com.au/cash-flow-budget-calculator.aspx
- Have you got your invoicing up to date??? Review your debtors and, if necessary, offer discounts for early payment.
- Ensure your financials are up to date so that you monitor profitability, stock levels, and debtors and creditors balances on a timely basis.
- Renegotiate payment terms with suppliers if necessary and talk to your bank if you are cannot meet loan commitments.
- Look to seek extensions from your landlord if unable to pay the rent on time, as well as consider entering payment plans with the ATO for BAS (Australia-only) and tax debts.
- Check with your broker or insurance company if you can make a claim on your business continuity policy for any financial losses suffered.
- Slash overheads. Look at all the costs of your business and reduce discretionary and non-essential expenses. Fixed costs such as wages, rent, utilities, financing costs and tax liabilities are not affected by a decline in sales and need to be properly managed.
Supply chain considerations
Many business owners may not realise that their product or service relies on parts or components from China, so understanding your supply chain is a critical first step. If your business relies on a supplier from an affected region in China, now is the time to seek alternative suppliers.
Where it is not possible to source from anywhere apart from China it is worth looking at which provinces your products are from and making sure that you have at least 2 supply sources for key products from different provinces.
Whether you buy locally, from China or other parts of the world in this global pandemic it is important that you check in with your suppliers to see if there will be any disruption to their products and services. Many local products and products made around the world still require Chinese parts.
Of course, this will now apply to all following countries going into crisis mode such as Italy.
Before switching away from Chinese to alternate international suppliers, it is worth noting Chinese manufacturing is in basic, albeit vulnerable, recovery now. Operations which are already set up are likely to aggressively price to regain their share of the market, so hold off onto entering long term contracts until the market settles.
Global connection and local questions
When China sneezes the world catches a cold and it’s likely that even though business is beginning to revive there will be considerable disruption to supply chains around the world, with part shortages in some areas having a knock on ripple impact across industries which rely on these parts.
Further as countries lock down the importing and exporting of goods is being interrupted. The crisis in Italy is also set to disrupt supply of Italian goods.
Before getting overwhelmed, bear in mind China is already in active recovery. Some businesses have been hit hard and others have seen profit margins rising.
Generally, in China as the crisis is being bought under control business is returning towards normal.
The Australian government has announced a $17.6 billion dollar stimulus plan, to help protect jobs and businesses and further packages are expected to be released this week too.
Chinese carbon emissions’ have plummeted and businesses around the world are beginning to consider how important it is to have diversified supply systems with an emphasis on buying local.
- Could the Coronavirus be good for the environment?
- Are there opportunities for Australian businesses? How will we welcome Chinese tourists back? What will the threat of lockdown teach us?
- Is this the shake up we all need to consider our business values in conjunction with market values and needs?
So many industries are impacted. Who would have thought COVID-19 would impact Hollywood? When billions of Chinese film goers can no longer attend films there is a significant economic disruption, so much so films such as Mulan which is set in China and the latest Bond franchise “No Time to Die” have both had their release dates pushed back.
So, what is going on in Perth, WA and Australia?
A lot! WA currently has 28 cases of Coronavirus. An overnight jump in cases has seen WA be placed under a state of emergency.
The announcement last week of 3 new cases coming from Europe, the UK and US and possible contamination of 3 flights has led to the WA government releasing a pandemic plan and HBF cancelling their Run for a Reason Fun Run.
Russel Brand cancelled his sold out “Recovery Live” gig at the Concert Hall last Monday and there seems to be a genuine community wide hesitation about large scale public events. Lucky the Highway to Hell gig scraped it in before the supermarket shelves had been raided for toilet paper and public fear levels amped.
Mandurah’s iconic crab festival, Leederville’s St Patrick Day celebrations and the Fairbridge Festival have all been cancelled. These are large events with sponsors, businesses and volunteers all putting in considerable work. There will be a lot of leftover crab meat this week in Mandurah without the tens of thousands of expected hungry festival goers.
A round of WA based festivals have postponed their events including Good Day Sunshine, BeerFest and Castaway. Epilepsy WA will take their walk fundraiser #PurpleWalk4EpilepsyWA event online, encouraging their supporters to wear purple and take to social media on March 29 when the walk would have taken place.
Clinics have been set up at Royal Perth, Sir Charles Gairdner and Fiona Stanley Hospitals from 8am to 8pm. Those who have flu like symptoms, have returned from overseas or have been in confirmed / suspected contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case. There are 29 regional collection points. Patients need a GP referral to attend. Contact details for public health units can be found at:
Chaos reigned at the Grand Prix in Melbourne with the Premiere making an announcement that spectators may not be allowed in before finally F1 organisers held a press conference, announcing the event was cancelled following health warnings and a member of the McLaren team testing positive. Not ideal for those who have travelled internationally to attend nor event organisers or local Melbourne businesses who were prepped for the city to be in party mode.
The Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced shortly after this, all non-essential mass gatherings of 500+ events from Monday 16th March are banned as a precautionary measure to limit the mass transmission of the virus.
There is a potential risk to major international WA events such as the Margaret River Pro in late April early May and even the 2020 Rugby Championships at Optus Stadium in August that this ban will not be lifted in time for them to take part.
The NRL are in discussions to play televised matches in empty stadiums as we are seeing in soccer matches in Europe now operating. The AFL has come out and announced they will play to empty stadiums for the start of the season at least.
ANZAC Day memorial services even small in numbers have been cancelled due to the risk of veterans becoming ill. Consider the impact this will have on our older generation many of whom will never have missed a dawn service, reach out to any relatives who this day means something to via text and phone call. In other words say G’day.
The Prime Minister in conjunction with Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy issued a Level 3 travel advice, meaning only essential travel should be considered for all Australians.
The advice is we need to reconsider the need to travel – regardless of destination, health and age. Only essential travel should be considered from this day forward and further information can be found on the smart traveller website.
Ironically Home Minister Peter Dutton has tested positive to having the virus after returning from the US. He was at extended cabinet meetings with the Prime Minister in attendance.
100 Flight Centre Stores announced they would be closing doors across Australia for a month. Affected staff where possible will be shifted to other stores.
For the first time in many Australians lifetime we are seeing significant disruption to supply chain. Ask any shopper driving from supermarket to supermarket in the hunt for toilet paper and it is not easy to source. Supermarket giant Coles has reported a shortage of hand sanitiser, stationary, electrical goods and clothing items.
As if all of this was not enough Australia now has 300 plus confirmed cases of COVID-19 including Hollywood Royalty Tom Hanks is holed up with his song-writing partner Rita Wilson in a Gold Coast Hospital.
What do we need to know about the virus?
COVID-19 is mainly transmissible through person to person and it seems to spread easily. The virus is passed between humans who come into 6 feet contact of an infected person who coughs or sneezes and spreads respiratory droplets containing the virus. These either are inhaled, land on your eye nose or mouth. Or on your hands or clothing which you then touch and touch your face.
It is thought people are most contagious when they are the most symptomatic, i.e. sickest. However, reportage shows with this new Coronavirus there may be some spread before people display symptoms.
It is possible to catch COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.
Coronaviruses are enveloped viruses with a protective fat layer. Disinfectants tear apart that fat layer, which makes coronaviruses “fairly wimpy” compared to noroviruses and other common viruses that have a more robust protein shell. Using a good grade disinfectant or bleach solution and regular cleaning will help. To work surfaces must be properly sprayed and wet down and allowed to air dry.
What is concerning is the AMA estimates 5-10% of patients will need hospitalisation. This coupled with the fact it can spread before people are symptomatic and self-isolate is what has led authorities including the WHO to give the illness code orange / pandemic status.
Currently this has triggered significant travel advisory warnings, travel bans from certain countries and the cancellation of large-scale events. Australians are panic stockpiling in case of widespread shutdowns. Worse-case scenario widespread contagion could impact customers attending bricks and mortar businesses, interrupt supply chains and impact availability of staff.
At this point COVID19 is considered more transmissible than SARS but less transmissible than influenza. If governments, businesses and individuals act responsibly it is possible to contain and ultimately eradicate the virus. Making self-isolation if you have symptoms and the support of business for everyone to do this essential to society.
What advice is there for employers?
Initially the Australian Government considered the following countries to be at higher risk for COVID-19:
- Mainland China
- Republic of Korea
Travellers returning from these destinations have needed to self-isolate for 14 days regardless of if they had symptoms. Many people in Perth travel so we have already seen some staffing disruption.
Now the Prime Minister has announced as of March 16 all travellers entering Australia or returning home to Australia must self-isolate for 14 days.
If you have staff returning from overseas isolation guidelines can be found at https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-isolation-guidance
Employers are encouraged to stay on top of health advisory warnings and be aware of current travel advisory information.
As of Friday, the 13th of March the government has issued a Level 3 travel advice, meaning only essential travel should be considered for all Australians.
It is important as an employer you convey this information to your staff and request they follow this advice. In this communication it would be fair to make it very clear that should they do so and need to self-isolate they will not be paid, and you would need to seek advice re their tenure. Leading from the top means you will need to curtail your own travel plans.
Australia’s leading medical officers will meet on Tuesday to consider restrictions on gatherings in enclosed spaces as major cities around the world close down pubs, clubs and restaurants. The Australian Health Protection Committee will be providing advice to the national cabinet who will be making decisions as to if businesses need to close. Today we are seeing various states including WA go into a state of emergency, this will ensure local authorities have the power to be able to enforce rules such as mandatory self-isolation and business closures if necessary.
In WA, Health Minister Roger Cook and Tourism Minister Paul Papalia will speak with peak bodies of the hospitality industry on Wednesday to “go through those guidelines and explain and work with them on the application”. Health Minister Roger Cook has hinted pubs and restaurants may soon be impacted by social distancing requirements.
Now is the time to look into how much sick leave your staff members currently have and assess how you can assist staff who may not have sick leave to cover a 14-day self-isolation period.
Brief your employees, contractors and customers that now COVID-19 is spreading in our WA community anyone with even a mild cough or low-grade fever (37.3 C or more) needs to stay at home.
They should also stay home (or work from home) if they have had to take simple medications, such as paracetamol/acetaminophen, ibuprofen or aspirin, which may mask symptoms of infection.
It may be very well worth considering offering employees a blanket basic pay allowance to cover a 14-day self-isolation period, regardless of if they have sick pay owing. In the US Starbucks and Walmart are offering two weeks catastrophe pay to their staff.
Why? Probably to avoid potential litigation in the US. Here though can you really put a price on your, your family, key staff members and customers health? Can you afford multiple staff members becoming unwell or indeed yourself?
If you have employees who do not have sick pay owing check to see if they may qualify for government stimulus relief assistance. If they do qualify provide your employees advice about how this will work.
Promoting hand sanitisation and good respiratory hygiene
The clear advice from all health authorities is that hand washing and correct sanitisation is key to preventing the spread of the virus. It is crucial businesses keep their bathrooms and hand washing stations both clean and well stocked. Hand sanitiser needs to be at least 60% alcohol to be effective and your hands need to be wet for 30 seconds.
Do not skimp and water down any cleaning products or hand washes!
Communication is key. Inform all staff information on how to wash their hands and what to do if they become unwell. Create an emergency plan and make sure staff are aware of this. Place posters at key points.
Email in this scenario is very effective – it conveys a sense of importance, it enables you to spell out clear messages without interruption, it is date traceable to show you are taking responsible steps as an employer, it prevents any confusion with staff should they become unwell, it gives your staff a sense of security and peace of mind you are being proactive, it provides a framework for staff to know what needs to be done and gives them an opportunity to address any concerns with you in a formal way.
Promote good respiratory hygiene in the workplace. Ensure that paper tissues are available at your workplaces, for those who develop a runny nose or cough at work, along with closed bins for hygienically disposing of them. Consider having a stock of face masks on hand for staff or customers who may become unwell or who directly work with food.
Supply cleaning staff with alcohol hand sanitiser to be applied before and after putting gloves on for cleaning duties. Make sure staff are well briefed on best cleaning practices and how to keep safe themselves.
Increase cleaning of high touch objects such as doorknobs, bathroom doors, mirrors, counter tops, tables and telephones. Wherever possible make it so your doors especially leading into bathrooms do not require door handles, so they are able to be pushed through with your shoulder.
Mobile phones are an extremely high source of contagion because of the way we touch our smart screens and speak into the device. Provide your staff with information about this. Don’t share mobile phones. Provide antibacterial wipes and insist staff wash their hands any time they use their mobile phones. Consider mobile phone bans whilst at work especially for food service staff.
Make sure you have good stocks of tissues, bin liners, toilet paper, hand wash gel, alcohol sanitizer and consider making your bathroom areas extra beautiful. Pop up cool signs to remind people to wash their hands properly. Try posting up the lyrics to staying alive or I will survive to remind everyone in a fun way to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds on bathroom mirrors in conjunction with providing more serious posters from the Department of Health or World Health Organisation.
Be ready to do deep cleaning of your workplaces more often.
If Australia does go into a lock down like countries such as Spain now has or if there is an announcement to limit business in confined spaces which causes your business to close down, be prepared to do deep cleans for workers to return.
What can we learn from other parts of the world?
China appears to be in the early stages of an economic rebound. This is crucial for the Perth economy which is heavily dependent on Iron Ore prices not falling to sharply. It is early stages so if a new outbreak were to occur businesses would be vulnerable. We all know if Iron Ore prices drop so does the Perth property market which knock on impacts Perth small businesses.
Person to person and bricks and mortar sales were hit hard in China however there were some business turn around stories such as Lin Qingxuan, the cosmetic company in Wuhan which redirected its 100 staff from across its 40 stores to become online makeup influencers and switched its focus to e-commerce, resulting in profits up 200% from the same period the year before.
The tech supply chain seems to be in recovery but is still in a vulnerable state. Of course, companies which rely on tech parts will not be at full production either so the disruption of core tech elements will have a ripple effect with an expected larger disruption to the tech world supply chain than that which just comes out of China.
Crossing the pond Disneyland has closed its doors for a month during the pandemic as a precaution to staff and patrons. This is only the fourth time in its history and will be for its longest period.
It seems Donald Trump has not been able to allay fears about how the US will contain Coronavirus or stimulate the economy. It didn’t help Trump was initially refusing to have himself tested for the virus despite coming into close contact with a Brazilian diplomat who has now tested positive for the virus.
Investors nerves were not calmed after his comments on Wednesday and vague details of what a US stimulus package will actually look like. To quote the big wig “God Bless America” indeed.
Airline and travel company stocks have taken a massive hit since in particular the US imposed travel bans across China and Europe.
The sports world has been hit hard, women’s and men’s tennis tours have been cancelled for 6 weeks, major league Baseball league has been cancelled to further notice, the PGA tour was cancelled, major European soccer matches are being held in empty stadiums and Trump is calling for the Japan Olympics to be held next year.
Italy has hit a crisis level with over 15,000 now diagnosed. Over 1000 have died in Italy bringing their health system to the brink. Age limits have even been suggested for intensive care and doctors have been called to come out of retirement. Catholic churches are not performing masses across the nation for the first time in history.
Austria has stopped transit from Italy and schools have closed across Italy, France, Greece, Poland, Denmark, Spain and Belgium. Currently the UK is keeping its schools open with fears closing them could cripple the economy without significant risk to children by keeping them open.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeas wife has been diagnosed with the virus causing the PM to also self-isolate.
France has announced all cafes and restaurants will be closed for business from the 15th of March.
What are cafes and restaurants doing in response to the virus?
In Perth Kailis Bothers have announced they will be taking staff temperatures across their venues which include Kailis’ Fishmarket Cafe in Fremantle, Island Market and Canteen in Trigg along with The Shorehouse in Swanbourne.
Sneakers and Jeans venues which include The Flour Factory, Hadiqa, Caballitos, Goody Twos, Pirate Life and Varnish have announced they are going cashless.
Starbucks in the US has announced that it won’t be accepting reusable keep cups and major fast food chains Burger King and Wendy’s have announced increased cleaning schedules and 30 minute timers to remind staff to wash their hands.
BC Tacos has all staff front and back of house wearing gloves, a no one works sick policy and are stapling their takeaway bags shut.
Batch Gastro Pub has hourly, daily and deep cleaning schedules in place and is setting up mobile hand sanitisation units at the front of their restaurants, providing handwipes at tables and all service staff are wearing disposable gloves. All tables, menus and salt and pepper shakers will be sanitised between sittings. Paper delivery bags will be rolled and stapled. Bar garnishes have been limited, disposable cups are available upon request, bar stools have been removed and tables have been placed further apart.
Ciao Cucina has increased all sanitisation, is holding daily staff training sessions regarding sanitisation and has implemented touchless delivery with a special go to bag which seals.
Denny’s has announced a curb side pick-up and delivery option for patrons and installed a guest liaison 1800 number for diners with questions to call.
What are the top songs to sing while washing your hands?
- Happy Birthday x 2
- Staying Alive
- I Will Survive
Tell me some good news
Companies which sell hand sanitizer, face masks, deep cleaning products are of course in boom times.
There is a growing demand for tech such as thermal imaging. ThirdEye who produce augmented reality glasses fitted with thermal imaging scanning feature have received 2000+ orders since the outbreak of COVID-19 including orders for airport staff at Hong Kong Airport.
“They’re moving thousands of people every day, and our glasses provide a hands-free use case for them where previously they were using this really expensive medical machine that provided an accurate thermal scan. Our glasses provide both telehealth presence as well as thermal scanning” said ThirdEye’s chief executive Nick Cherukuri.
There is a demand for high tech cleaning such as electrostatic spray guns with charged particles which ensure surfaces are more effectively covered.
In the case of this current pandemic, Netflix will entertain people stuck at home, and video platforms like Zoom will power businesses whose work can be done remotely.
Disney has released Frozen 2 ahead of schedule to help entertain children at home – this is a clever way for Disney to respond to the crisis and redirect their customer base to purchasing from home rather than attend cinemas, essentially softly changing their customers spending behaviour.
As the pandemic continues to spread around the world, and people try to understand how they should respond to it, more of them will turn to virtual assistants like Alexa to get information about the coronavirus; particularly the elderly and those quarantined at home.
That’s pushed companies like Amazon and Google to tweak their various platforms to prevent misinformation and to ensure that accurate information from health authorities gets to users. The Covid-19 content these smart assistants are currently offering serves as a reminder that even in a crisis, these AI-powered tools often just quote information from news articles and government websites, and they don’t have any particular authority on their own.
Bricks and mortar retail and person to person sales were hit hard in China. Agile Chinese enterprises rapidly redeployed sales efforts to new channels both in B2C and B2B enterprises, these companies are the ones recovering to be in better positions than before the crisis hit.
Cosmetics firm Lin Qingxuan was forced to close all stores in Wuhan during the breakout. However, the company moved quickly to redeploy over 100 beauty advisor staff members from those stores to become online influencers who leveraged digital tools, such as WeChat (similar to Facebook in China), to engage customers virtually and drive online sales. Resulting in its Wuhan operations achieving a 200% growth compared to the prior year’s sales.
Take care of you, your family, your loved ones, your community. The whole world is taking stock. Reach out if you need help.