These are depressing times. But inspiring.

By — Star Republic
12.07.2020

As daily suppliers to digital businesses, mainly eCom, we come across different types of more or less digital organizations every day. Some of the clients we work with have a very keen eye towards the changes in the world around them, while others might still have some work to do. Because in all honesty - being “digital” is not about who has the flashiest animations on their site. It’s rather about the understanding of digital behaviour in the chosen target groups. And most of all, it’s about adaptability to those behaviours.

The really depressing stuff… 😑

Don’t get us wrong. To us, the absolute majority of attempts at the digitalisation of an existing business model are great. But still, in the year 2020, you see so many corporations treating their eComs and digital businesses like they were simply a box on a spreadsheet, longing for a checkmark. Despite that - if you were to ask them whether they consider themselves working in an agile or traditional way, most of them would choose the former. Checkmarks are all well and fine on a normal day. But today - in the global crisis that we’re all facing - is not a normal day. In fact, these are some of the strangest times we have all experienced. Having most people staying indoors does not only mean that they can’t visit your physical stores - it also means the questioning of needs at all. What’s the point of buying a pair of nice shoes if you can’t show them to anybody? Buying hand sterilization gel, or soil to grow your own food however, suddenly makes perfect sense.

The really inspiring stuff! 😀

But these are also incredibly interesting times for digital business. We are starting to see some really great examples of businesses that are proving that they have not only a great understanding of the changing needs of their customers, but are also displaying a truly remarkable ability of adaptation. Let us give you a couple of examples of some really great stuff:

    • Elite Hotels are, like all other Hotel companies, in a really tight spot. Having thousands of empty hotel rooms affect their entire food chain: who will eat in the restaurant if there is no one staying in the hotel? What rooms will need cleaning? In order to fill the hotels and stop the bleeding, Elite has not only started an initiative where risk groups of the current virus as well as people working within healthcare can stay at the hotel for only the cost of running the hotel, without profit. They have also created an online concept where customers can rent a hotel room as an apartment with a highly discounted monthly rate. Considering the great need for apartments in the larger of the Swedish cities, this is a great idea for a hotel chain that mainly have hotels in the urban areas of the country.
    • IKEA is of course a company in need of no introduction. But to Swedes the home and automotive-retailer Biltema is almost as well-known. And a common trait for them both is the recent effort to offer Click & Collect functionality without having to enter the physical store. You simply complete your purchase online, go to your local warehouse and park in the parking lot. There you find instructions for letting the staff know that you’re outside, and they will simply walk up to your car and put your order in the boot without you ever leaving your car and being able to maintain social distance.
    • Springtime is home improvement time, and retailer Plantagen can supply not only your new grill or patio furniture online - but also soil and living plants. This is proving extremely useful in times where many customers not only are confined to their homes, but also want to be more self-sufficient when it comes to vegetables and other foods that are normally sold in bulk at the local supermarket, providing a risk for potential spreading of disease. Selling live plants online is made possible by a shipping solution consisting of local delivery nodes and a third party dynamic delivery platform.
    • Widrikssons is a “Last mile” trucking company and they quickly had to change how they interact with their end customers in order to comply with social distancing. They quickly developed a solution together with us so their customer can create a digital signage on their own phones instead of using the drivers phone which was the original standard. Thus keeping both driver and customer safe.
    • Inspired by the social shopping trend in China, the Swedish company Bambuser launched live video shopping in 2019 and has seen a great increase of interest in their product as it provide eComs with the possibility to shop in a more “life-like” manner. For instance via guided tours of real estate that you can not visit or where clothing designers can tell customers about their products and inspire to more purchases online. Swedish companies that are using these possibilities are among other clothing retailer NA-KD with their live fashion shows, and real estate listing site Hemnet with their online property viewings.

The bottom line

Well, the point of the article should probably be obvious by now, but let’s say it out loud anyway. Hard times are not only the feeding grounds for disaster and problems. It’s also a valuable source of perspective.


Perspective

Like Anton Ego, we like our perspective well-seasoned

Through pure shock, we and the rest of the eCom industry will all have to take a close look at what it is we do in order to stay relevant whether we like it or not. Of course, some industries are taking a beating that simply no company can withstand, no matter how adaptive and agile they might be. Their business might simply not be there anymore. But we would argue that most other actors in their respective markets have a good chance of gaining ground in times of turmoil. There are very few examples of companies that thrived after having gone into hiding during times of great change.

Use your fresh perspective wisely, be flexible and brave, and you might just come out on top.

Authors

Daniel Miari

CXO
Star Republic

Ola Linder

Competence Lead Content
Project Manager
Star Republic

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