5 Companies that Successfully Pivoted to Digital During the Pandemic
In 2020, many businesses across all sectors learned what a pivot to digital meant. Those that already knew learned how to accelerate this shift to meet rapidly changing consumer needs. The pandemic showed how important digital infrastructure is to a business, whether in retail, services, or even digital products.
Throughout the pandemic, we saw innovative shifts toward digital-first business models from large corporations and small startups alike. The five biggest takeaways from 2020’s collective digital pivot are:
• Personalizing the ecommerce experience
• The importance of SEO
• Integrating cloud technology
• Virtualizing services and events
• Repackaging your offerings
Rise of e-commerce
The pandemic didn’t introduce us to ecommerce, but it certainly redefined the optimal business model for online retailers. Ecommerce grew by 44% in the U.S. in 2020, the highest annual ecommerce growth in two decades. Shops had to ensure they had a digital delivery channel, and that their online infrastructure was robust enough to compete with the scores of other ecommerce retailers out there.
Ecommerce grew more sophisticated, particularly with a focus on personalization. Without the in-person shopping experience, customers were looking for something more than just a transaction when shopping online.
One company that successfully navigated an ecommerce pivot is the French grocery giant Carrefour. Carrefour’s online shopping has always been user-focused, but during the pandemic the supermarket introduced a microsite for curated products, with boxes of weekly “essential items” so customers could easily find what they needed. The company also invested in customer feedback to help revamp their website and shopping app. Many grocery chains were unprepared for a big ecommerce shift in 2020, but Carrefour took steps to close gaps quickly and it paid off.
Lockdowns and online shopping meant retailers had to pour their efforts into their websites. As websites became the new storefronts, brands with poorly-designed, slow-loading, and improperly-indexed sites lost out on potential customers. Many businesses realized the importance of SEO.
One such business is computer hardware company and Mac accessories online store Other World Computing (OWC). Even though their ecommerce shop predates the pandemic, OWC knew that an optimized website would be an invaluable advantage as online shopping took off in 2020. The company doubled down on SEO efforts for their e-shop, Macsales.com, and credited a huge growth in sales to their SEO consultant, Stephan Spencer. For ecommerce businesses, a digital pivot should always include SEO.
A heavier investment and use of cloud technology was a major theme of 2020’s digital pivot across all industries. With employees working from home in countries all over the world, every company had to at least consider migrating to the cloud.
To achieve the highest levels of productivity while staying safely social distanced, online file storage systems, account management, and service platforms powered by cloud computing became essential.
Shopify’s digital pivot during the pandemic illustrated the benefit of cloud computing. With ecommerce booming, many local stores and farmers turned to Shopify to sell their goods, forgoing giant platforms like Amazon. To accommodate small shops and connect them with their local customers, Shopify started offering cloud-based services to help online vendors manage their expenses, cash-flow, deliveries, and bills.
Virtual services and events
Almost everything became virtual in 2020. Any non-essential tasks were relegated to the digital sphere, including events, services, classes, and even conversations with loved ones. Brands that still wanted to connect with their target audiences were forced to hold virtual events. Businesses that didn’t catch on to the virtual trend were left behind.
No industry was hit harder during the pandemic than travel and hospitality. But a smart digital pivot from boutique travel company Airbnb kept it from failing quite as hard as its competitors. Airbnb quickly focused on providing financial help to hosts and connecting them to guests who were willing to travel. The company also boosted its “Experiences” offering, allowing the tour guides and instructors who use the app to host virtual experiences like cooking classes, dance lessons, craft workshops, and more. Although Airbnb still suffered losses in 2020, the company’s bet on virtual experiences saved it from faring even worse.
Repackaging your offerings
For some companies, a pivot to digital during the pandemic meant repackaging their products and services, even if those goods were already digital. Many brands had business models that weren’t working anymore and had to find a way to convert their resources into something people needed. Brewing companies, for example, started producing hand sanitizer during the pandemic.
Product repackaging isn’t so straightforward with digital products, however. Take Spotify, for example. The subscription-based music streaming service had too many free listeners, who listen to ads, and not enough paid subscribers to sustain them through the pandemic. When COVID-19 hit, advertisers cut their budgets and more users started streaming music at home. Spotify had to make up the revenue.
The platform shifted its focus heavily to creating original content — podcasts — that would cut down on licensing costs and spur on advertising again. By cutting exclusive podcasting deals with celebrities like Barack and Michele Obama, Spotify’s pivot has helped the company out of the tight spot it was in during the pandemic.
The pivot to digital
A pivot to a digital-first business model is unavoidable for companies that want to survive post-pandemic. A year after the pandemic started, we’ve learned important lessons about shifting to digital delivery that any business should apply as they move forward.
At Netconcepts, we use online marketing and SEO expertise to help businesses connect their digital products and services with their customers. To learn more about how we can help your business, contact us today for a free strategy call.
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