The full consequences of forced lockdowns and closures across the world and unprecedented trade and travel restrictions worldwide are yet to be felt.
But maybe you’ve already felt the impact on your business.
Maybe you’re trying to pivot so you can fit in better in this “new economy”.
Or maybe the push toward “digital” leads to new growth you didn’t anticipate (but, of course, it comes with its own set of challenges) …
Either way, we are far from “out of the woods”.
And while even in the best of times, businesses know that they have to adapt constantly as a natural response to changing markets, now it seems much more like a cutthroat kind of pivot-or-die.
You can’t achieve success and greatness with stubbornness, doing the same old things repeatedly. As the world and your customers change, you pivot.
And do not get me wrong. Don’t think that pivot means you drop everything and chase some utterly new and different opportunity. On the contrary, it means you shift to a new strategy, focus on a different set of customers, employ a new revenue model, or just use different technology.
Speaking of pivoting, I wanted to spotlight 3 companies that have tackled these challenging times head on, to show you that even in tough times, you still can make 2021 your most profitable year ever
1- How Walmart took over Amazon’s spot as the top grocery e-commerce platform during the pandemic
It’s not a secret for anyone that Walmart has been aggressively building out its ecosystem throughout the pandemic. Their focus? New revenue streams to drive sales (especially online).
First, they took steps toward increasing their online and delivery presence, partnering with grocery delivery service Instacart to offer same-day grocery delivery.
In August, the big-box retailer became the number one grocery e-commerce platform, according to a TABS Analytics survey, stealing the spot from Amazon. Walmart leads with about 30% of online grocery transactions, while Amazon accounts for about 27%
But Walmart didn’t stop there. In September, they challenged Amazon by launching a subscription service called Walmart+.
And 5 months after the release, the data seems promising. Walmart+ service got between 7.4 million and 8.2 million members, putting them on the fast track as a potential Amazon Prime rival.
2- How Airbnb pivoted in the wake of global lockdowns
In the wake of Covid-19 lockdowns, Airbnb lost 80% of its sales in 8 weeks. A terrible blow every company.
Faced by this sudden collapse in travel, Brian Chesky, CEO and co-founder of Airbnb, knew he had to do something.
But what? Of course, speak with his hosts. They gave him the answer: offering virtual deals WITHOUT in-person accommodation.
Brian saw an opportunity and pivoted. He moved swiftly to help hosts financially and connect them with potential guests.
14 days later, his hosts were able to offer online events focused on cooking, meditation, art therapy, magic, songwriting, virtual tours, and many other activities (over 800 online experiences), with users joining for a small fee.
Airbnb took what would have been perceived by many to be a crushing blow and turned it into a pivotal moment in the brand’s history. This pivot is also one more step towards achieving Airbnb’s vision to become a full-range lifestyle platform: from searching for your next vacation to celebrating the diversity of the world to learning about other cultures from a distance
3- How a hard-hit online fashion brand turned the pandemic into record growth
Brick-and-mortar clothing retailers weren’t the only companies impacted by the global pandemic.
Boohoo.com, the online fast-fashion brand run by the billionaire Kamani family that also owns boohooMan, Pretty Little Thing, and MissPap (among others), faced a major crisis when sales dropped overnight due to lockdowns nationwide.
Led by CEO John Lyttle, the company aggressively pivoted its brand presence. The online retailer started to push reasonably priced, quality leisurewear and pajamas, jogging bottoms, hoodies, and elegant, comfortable tops for online meetings at the front of its websites during the lockdowns.
Speaking at the time, CEO John Lyttle said: “Our team worked exceptionally hard in 2020 as we navigated the many challenges”.
And with the constant flow of ‘stay at home’ orders issued under local and national lockdowns, the company not only managed to recover but, in fact, is now in a better position than it was throughout the previous fiscal year. The full-year results for the group showed sales up 44%.
4 – Now the ball is in your court ….
What is your company doing to turn these challenging times into opportunities? If you are considering taking a new course, let me quickly explain what things you should keep in mind.
5 conditions for a successful pivot
Look at the trends
Look at the trend that the pandemic created or intensified (e.g., remote work, online training, etc.) and see how your company can take advantage of any of them.
Face the facts, seek opportunities.
Face the brutal facts of reality, and realize what you aren’t, but seek who you can be. For example, are you a craft beer brand that relied on brick and mortar sales before the 2020 pandemic? Perhaps you can offer home delivery or a drive-up service? Or pivot by repurposing your equipment for something in high demand?
Preserve or enhance core brand values
Whatever a new path to profitability you go for, you need to preserve or enhance your brand value in your customers’ minds.
Get the right people in and the wrong people out.
Ensure your team is the right team, and they share the passion, values, and character to quickly bring your ideas into the market.
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