Investment & Finance

Businesses must innovate and adapt to pandemic

Saigon Investment
(SGI) - All businesses must now learn to find the best ways possible to continue their operations amidst the ongoing pandemic. 

Illustrative photo.

Illustrative photo.

This fact is emerging as a realistic truth because despite all efforts, the pandemic is continuing to rage on in the world, and spread even further and faster with new types of variants emerging after every successful attempt at curbing the last. Every business must now innovate and adapt, and find ways to operate in the current circumstances, as it is becoming increasingly clear that the pandemic is here to stay for a very long time.

Online selling

Jewellery is one product that sells a lot through traditional channels because the customer sees it as a serious investment. This is also the reason why before the Covid-19 pandemic, the online business of Phu Nhuan Jewellery Joint Stock Company (PNJ) only accounted for a small market share. However, soon after the Covid-19 pandemic broke out in early 2020, consumers began to avoid crowded shopping areas and preferred to go online. It was at that time that PNJ responded quickly to promote an online sales channel. Speaking with Saigon Investment, Mr. Le Tri Thong, General Director of PNJ, said that his company had to urgently change its model of functioning to stay on track with the new online trend to continue their sales. As a result, in the first quarter of 2020, sales through online channels increased three times.

Similarly, the Vietnamese fashion brand V-SIXTYFOUR also quickly moved to adopt online selling when the company realised that sales were falling sharply soon after the pandemic broke out for the first time in early 2020. This brand has not just restricted itself to selling online on websites and social media fan pages but is also promoting its product sales on e-commerce platforms such as Shopee. Mr. Phan Van Viet, the owner of V-SIXTYFOUR, said that in order to stimulate consumer demand, his company decided to also sharply reduce prices of many items, which then helped sales to recover. V-SIXTYFOUR has since been able to maintain good sales growth continuously all throughout the ongoing pandemic.

Online selling has become a trend for many items, including essential home commodities from supermarkets. Before the pandemic, businesses such as Saigon Coop, AEON, Big C, and Lotte mainly welcomed customers to visit their stores in person, but then the regulation of social distancing by the government compelled them to move towards online promotion of goods and online delivery orders. Currently, with Ho Chi Minh City under strict social distancing measures for now more than a month, online sales are booming as the last resort to purchasing of essential goods. Businesses are not only selling goods on the web, but have also created their own apps, while supermarkets are connected with e-commerce platforms such as Shopee, Tiki, and Lazada, which has made it much more convenient for consumers to reach out to buy their essential needs.

With the growth of many e-commerce platforms, online selling has become a popular mode for many businesses, and a way to keep their businesses afloat under the current pandemic conditions. The fact that businesses have switched so quickly to a new way of marketing is encouraging and realistically adapting to the sudden changing needs and behavior patterns of consumers. According to statistics, Vietnam has seen the growth by 40% of new users on the internet who have only appeared since the pandemic started in early 2020. Study also shows that consumers want to continue to maintain this trend, even when the pandemic finally ends. Besides this, upto 83% of consumers use online channels to surf the internet and research on products before deciding on what to buy.

This sudden shift to online buying and selling cannot be ignored by restaurant owners. From small stores to larger food chain stores, almost all have moved their products on online food delivery apps. This is certainly a trend that is here to stay in the future of the culinary industry. Hoang Tung, the founder of Pizza Home, and CEO of Cloud Kitchens, acknowledged that this trend of home food delivery is not a familiar experience for everyone. There are only some culinary businesses specializing in this form of convenience. However, this trend is growing under the current complicated pandemic situation, and home delivery services have grown very strongly in recent months.

Adapting to pandemic

Under the present and very serious conditions of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is only appropriate that all businesses innovate and find the best ways possible to keep their operations going to stay afloat. Online selling is one way to accept a new normal way of operating. Online channels are not only being used for domestic sales but have also been adopted by many businesses across the world for various purposes. However, not all industry groups and businesses have been flexible towards changing their working pattern so quickly. There are industries that have had to accept a state of limbo and hibernation as they wait out for the pandemic to pass.

This is evident with the entire tourism and travel industry. Ever since the pandemic first broke out, the tourism and travel industry was one of the first industries to take a direct hit and face immediate losses. Now after four waves of the pandemic, many tourism companies are unable to sustain themselves anymore, although some are remaining hopeful and are continuing to hold on by any means. The tourism industry is also looking forward to receiving support packages from the Government, but this may just remain a hope as support has not yet come in any form.

In the past, many owners of travel agencies were busy making plans to increase the number of visitors each year, and planning to add new interesting destinations and services. Now they are compelled to take up any available job to make a living such as selling masks, food items, or running coffee stalls. This is not only the current state of affairs affecting business owners, but all their employees are not faring any better. For more than a year now, many employees of travel companies have been rotating on all kinds of jobs from online businesses, to selling insurance, or even driving motorbike taxis. All are waiting in despair for the situation to return to normal once again.

For more than a year now, the tourism industry this time has also received positive information from the State. According to Government Resolution 68 issued on 1 July, tour guides who are licenced and out of job because of the pandemic, will receive a one-time support of VND 3,710,000 per person. For businesses that have had to suspend operations due to the pandemic, such as those in the fields of transport, aviation, tourism, accommodation, and export of Vietnamese workers to foreign countries, can borrow capital at 0% interest rate to pay wages to employees as soon as they restart their businesses. Although there is still a gap from actual implementation, this news of support could help bring cheer to businesses and employees who are currently out of work.

Many businesses are already accepting the current pandemic conditions as a new normal and learning to adapt and find ways and means to continue their operations, rather than wait for the government to send support. For many businesses now, the new normal means new innovative thinking, accepting a new reality for long-term adaptation, not panicking about the future, and accepting the fact that the Covid-19 pandemic is relentless and can come back at anytime and anywhere, with unknown forms of variants that mankind will have to learn to fight off.

Thanh Lam

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