The effects of COVID-19 on businesses will be felt for months, if not years; however, all news coming out during the pandemic is not bad news. As we inch toward recovery, many businesses and industries are reporting improved metrics and predicting growth in the near future.
Here we’ve rounded up the latest positive business news in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Due to challenges arising from COVID-19 businesses and consumers are adopting new technologies at an accelerated rate.
Social distancing has necessitated this growth. Most businesses have had to adapt to a work from home environment, which has led to an increased need for better management and communication software.
In a Forbes article, tech company CEO, Steve King, discusses how the implications of COVID-19 is specifically hastening the adoption of AI and research tech to understand customer needs and sentiment now that most traditional field-based research is out of the question.
Business owners aren’t the only ones quickly adopting new technologies, Nielsen reports that consumers are also turning to technology at an accelerated pace. By comparing recent consumer data to data collected in recent weeks tied to COVID-19, researchers were able to identify three major consumer technology adoption trends.
Increased online shopping - Because nonessential businesses were required to close their doors, consumers have turned to the online retail sphere. Of course, e-commerce growth isn’t exactly a new trend, but COVID-19 has certainly boosted this growth. This growth isn’t limited to e-commerce industry veterans, such as fashion and entertainment, either. Grocery retailers are also seeing exponential growth; Blue Apron, who was reported as struggling to survive earlier this year, is expected to see their first quarter of growth since mid-2017.
Increased direct-to-consumer business demand - As a result of retail supply chain challenges, consumers are heading to manufacturers online. Nielsen reports that this segment is often predominantly driven by small, local manufacturers who have identified consumer needs and recognize the advantages of direct consumer reach, powered by technology. Another benefit of the direct-to-consumer approach is improved customer engagement and brand loyalty-building opportunities.
Increased demand for virtual shopping experiences - Even though online shopping is at an all-time high, consumers aren’t likely to abandon physical stores anytime soon. Consumers value being able to touch and inspect products and ask questions. Though the in-store experience is limited due to COVID-19, the idea of using augmented reality to simulate this experience is gaining traction. For example, beauty brands and retailers in South Korea are leveraging this kind of technology to allow customers to “try on” products virtually because people may be hesitant to physically try on samples.
With the peak of COVID-19 infections seemingly behind us, industries struck hardest by social distancing orders are starting to see positive momentum.
Falling oil prices, demand, and supply chain challenges crippled the energy sector. However, as restrictions are lifted, the energy sector is poised for a period of growth. Increased demand and reduced production have pushed oil prices higher. In fact, West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. oil benchmark, is on track to see its best month of growth ever, going back to the contract’s inception in 1983. While May’s oil prices are still below highs seen earlier this year, the market has shown signs of rebalancing itself.
The oil industry isn’t the only one in the energy sector that can expect growth, either. Renewable energy initiatives slowed due to COVID-19, as supply chain disruption caused delays in project construction. However, society’s re-opening is expected to increase demand. For example, Portugal is launching a series of clean energy projects that could generate 5.5 billion euros in European energy investment.
COVID-19 lockdowns have also notably impacted the restaurant industry. In April, OpenTable reported that the number of seated diners at its participating restaurants was down 100% year-over-year. In May, the number of seated diners was down only 85%. While this is still a significant decrease year-over-year, it still far better than April reports and leads us to believe that the restaurant industry is on the path to a healthy rebound.
After being drastically impacted by COVID-19, the auto industry is also seeing some positive gains. As people sheltered indoors, their reliance on cars decreased, thus dramatically reducing revenue. J.D. Power estimated that the industry would lose between $1.2 million and $1.6 million in retail sales through July. This combined with temporary production plant closures and parts shortages has resulted in several tough weeks for the industry.
But while the pandemic isn’t over, demand for vehicles has picked back up. So much so that the industry is selling more vehicles than it’s currently producing. As manufacturers start to reopen their doors, inventory levels are expected to stabilize in the coming months and industry leaders are optimistic that lost retail sales will be recovered.
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