As our economies start to reopen round the world in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is worth companies starting to reimagine their business models to adapt to the ‘new normal’. The reality is, businesses must plan for an alternative future that takes into account the impact of the virus and the resulting societal change for many months to come. As governments make significant interventions in response to coronavirus, businesses are rapidly adjusting to the changing needs of the people, their customers and suppliers, whilst also navigating the financial and operational challenges.
Transformation of Key Sectors
Before the pandemic, many organisations had already instituted some remote working policies and virtualised their IT infrastructure. However, COVID-19 has necessitated an almost total shift towards a remote workforce in order to protect employees and ensure business continuity.
As the first to experience and begin the recovery from coronavirus, China is transforming into a digital economy at a speed – and it now serves as a learning example for the rest of the world to see what is possible. From automated temperature checks in airports to personal tracking software, big-data technology is fueling the journey to rapid socio-economic recovery.
Digital consultations and the production of remote patient monitoring technology have increased, both in popularity and necessity, since the start of 2020. Access to real-time updates, telemedicine and data via an AI-based platform will undoubtedly continue, decreasing the need for office visits and curbing costs.
With the rise of 5G, we have seen both students and solution providers embracing an ‘anywhere, anytime’ form of digital education, and in a variety of formats too, including live-streaming, interactive software and AI-based tutoring. Students in Hong Long have been learning via Apps, whilst, in Mainland China, some 120 million students have accessed their educational material through live television broadcasts.
Challenges faced by those doing business in China
Aside from the differences in culture, market-access barriers, local competition and IP protection, a number of fresh challenges have arisen as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Supply chains have been disrupted, there is increased political pressure and less consumer spending overall.
So how should you adapt?
It is essential that businesses, whatever their size, rethink their ‘China Strategy’ and specific purpose. China already has local and cheaper competitors, so why is a particular business model a necessary addition to the Chinese market? Generally speaking, Chinese consumers have high expectations, and so it is helpful for companies to be solution-based.
The digitalisation of promotion and placement, alongside a partnership with the Chinese value chain, will ensure greater interdependence.
Challenges to the global supply chain mean that businesses must re-evaluate and develop new models. Supply chains built on Just-in-Time (JIT) inventories and distributed component sourcing may have to be rethought.
In order to reach the ready consumer, there will need to be significant changes such as online payment systems, tracking software and, in some cases, enhanced delivery networks.
While these changes may sound challenging, they are essential for strengthening business continuity and resilience – and, ultimately, they will pay off.
Is your business model still relevant?
By considering the ways in which you can keep your business safe and active, you may find that adapting your business to cope with the coronavirus could leave you stronger in the long run.
It is important to assess the following factors:
– Regulations: Understanding applicable market entry process (eg China Compulsory Certificate); categories allowed for operating domestically; IP licensing prerequisites etc.
– Direct selling vs distributors: The necessity for a contact-free economy will require long-term solutions for selling in China.
– Local production & supply chain: Re-assessing the purpose – for exporting and /or domestic sales and reviewing suppliers.
– Pricing and target customer segments: T1 consumers have very different buying patterns and preferences to those in T4 cities.
– Audience engagement: Webinars, live streaming and daily videos are just some of the ways brands communicate and engage with target audiences while face-to-face restrictions continue in China
Key takeaways for businesses in the age of COVID-19
1. Adapt and evolve
2. Embrace digitalisation
3. Pay attention to changes in consumer behaviour/ lifestyle
4. Emphasize marketing
Despite these unprecedented times, UK-China integration can still boost your business’ innovation capability and access to this vast market. Alternative and advanced manufacturing capabilities allow for strategic and successful joint ventures to boost capital strength. Companies that provide the best solutions will bounce back quickly – so it is essential to re-evaluate your model as soon as possible in order to achieve the most success in the coming months.