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Coronavirus is the best thing that happened to the online industry

Ronen Menipaz

Ronen Menipaz

25.03.2020

I say that because the virus is changing the behavior of countries, not only people. In a situation the entire world finds itself now, one way to look at this is as a global problem because, one way or another, it’s everybody’s problem. This thing is not confined to one or even a few select countries – it’s a global issue so the natural and sensible thing to do is to unite in the effort of making coronavirus a thing of the past. 

Or…

We build really big barriers (figuratively speaking) and withdraw to our own quarters. 

I don’t know about you but I have a feeling that the world is becoming a little more self-centric with each passing day. It’s like reverse scaling: instead of going global, we’re going local. Everybody is just a tiny bit more extreme when it comes to his or her country’s value. The stereotypical example is Trump because the eyes of the world are still looking toward the USA and having an egomaniac in charge tends to exacerbate the situation.

What is interesting to me about coronavirus is that those two broad ways of dealing with it (unify or build walls) reveal different natures. If everybody works together, they can probably solve a bunch of problems within a narrow timetable. But if you opt for isolation, something most interesting happens: you start to see what is your country’s worth when all on its own. 

The opportunity that is social disconnection

That’s why I believe the coronavirus is a heaven send for the online industry. Just imagine: no tourism. If you’re heavily dependent on China and/or a large part of Asia as your primary or only source of supply, you would be screwed in more than one way (which is happening all over the world across various industries on different levels). A lot of things would be unavailable. There would be no outside investments because people would be scared of putting up their money with such insane levels of uncertainty. 

In a world where everybody’s connected, we are probably going to see an era of social disconnection. So close, yet so far away. There will be a tremendous psychological impact on people after this ends, which will result in online businesses growing exponentially. The coronavirus will play a big role due to restricted person-to-person interaction but I also see online business booming simply because people will be getting accommodated to it. 

There will be new adopters across different demographics and industries that weren’t there before, like old(er) people ordering stuff from home or paying their utility bills through mobile or Internet banking apps. Companies will adopt tech because they have to, not because they want to. Organizations will finally realize the benefits of software like Zoom to connect to people and conduct a significant portion of their business that way. 

Not everyone will take it seriously, though

Right now, there is no other option as the coronavirus is forcing everybody to act online. On the bright side, online businesses as a whole are getting better because now they have more people using their products and services. There are more people delivering – a trend I’m fairly certain will remain after all this mess. 

So, the current situation will bring about one extremely important thing: 

a change in consumer behavior. 

People will get used to this online way of living partly because we are creatures of habit but also because there will be more incentive to keep your distance. This is an unprecedented situation in the history of the world and germs will probably be at the top of many people’s minds during this decade. I can see that being a major and lasting worry after this pandemic. 

The big losers of coronavirus

The hardest-hit people will be those with anything offline in their portfolio except a few notable exceptions like delivery. If there’s room for unemployed strippers to deliver packages, there are plenty of deliveries to be made.  

In the long run, there will be a major negative effect on all the entrepreneurs that have offline and/or low tech businesses as there will be very little incentive to own and run anything offline after this catastrophe. The pandemic has shown that you don’t need to meet people face-to-face to survive, let alone do business. In this context, the use of social distancing will be a smart thing that won’t insult people and business partners if you practice it. 

Once the isolation and distancing kick in enough to form a strong habit, it’ll change the way people think little by little. You’ll begin to realize you don’t need certain things, especially not as much as you used to think. For example – you don’t need to go to movies as the movies can come to you. Working from home, while certainly not for everyone, will become the most desirable work benefit a company can offer by far. If there is no such option for employees, they’ll gladly leave for a company that encourages that M.O.

Homer Simpson GIF

Final thoughts

At the end of the day, this is an opportunity to leverage everything, from technology to people who weren’t leveraged before. Disasters always make someone rich, and there is going to be a new generation of people that is going to own the world thanks to their foresight. 

It’s very likely that a recession happens, and soon, considering that the number of people facing unemployment and businesses declining is constantly growing. If or when that happens, it’s going to be a while until it ends because this is an entirely unknown territory we are treading. Never before has there been a situation that took away the financial balance of the world. 

However, if you want to look at the coronavirus chokehold positively (as much as it’s possible to consider positives in this situation), very few people are talking about its biggest effect – getting used to buying online, across the globe. Think about all the businesses and countries that didn’t have this possibility and/or mentality before – now they’re compelled to innovate. Online is going to become a basic necessity. At least some good to come out of this chaos.

Image credits:

https:/giphy.com/gifs/season-7-the-simpsons-7×7-26tk1xug7aEgg7pAs

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