Many businesses since the outbreak of COVID-19 have severely suffered. The pandemic has led to demand shocks, lessened consumer spending on clothing, recreation, travel; due to the movement restrictions, and the hardest-hit businesses are those in the hospitality industry, i.e., hotels, restaurants, bars, etc.
This is as the result of the partial lockdown like the case of Ghana and total lockdown in hardest-hit countries like Italy, who were equally not spared with the surge in the death toll worldwide over the months.
Businesses who were mostly engaged in the traditional form of marketing have lost many sales as the majority are now thinking of digitizing, yet certain businesses, especially those in the hospitality industry will continue to see sales dwindling until partial lockdown or total lockdown is lifted and movement restrictions are eased.
Covid-19 has come to teach many business lessons, especially those who underrated the power of electronic business.
Whiles many businesses are losing out, those operating in the online space have seen a surge in sales.
This gives prominence to the fact that Covid-19, though affected many including loss of lives, it has been a blessing to certain businesses creating opportunities.
The following are a list of electronic business opportunities COVID-19 has created;
Growing Interest in Video Conferencing creating sales opportunities for companies.
COVID-19 has led to the widespread of video conferencing systems. Organizations have changed their daily habits while minimizing personal contacts, practicing other precautionary measures to stay safe amidst the pandemic spread. Schools, churches, and other companies have resorted to video conferencing to maintain business continuity.
KNUST and other Ghanaian universities have employed video conferencing systems like Zoom, Moodle, etc. to ensure academic work continuity.
Family members due to social distancing and health precautionary reasons have also utilized these systems to communicate on a regular basis.
This has led to a surge in sales for these companies as a lot of online downloads have occurred.
Data Usage Increases booming business for telecommunication networks.
The use of fixed internet lines has increased as most people stay home. Within the framework of measures taken against the COVID-19 outbreak affecting the whole world, schools going on early breaks, starting of the distance education process and switching to work from home has also changed the data usage habits.
Though there is no data from any telecommunications company in Ghana to prove this, Turk Telekom Technology, a telecommunications company in Turkey has reported a 50% increase in data usage from Monday, March 16, 2020.
The surge in Online Sales.
Most people were used to making purchases by making physical contacts, visiting shops, warehouses, retail shops.
However, the COVID-19 called for the closure of many businesses due to lockdowns and the need to ensure social distancing.
This forced many businesses to move online. As I indicated earlier, COVID-19 has been a blessing for others. Research conducted by Quantum Metrics indicates that online sales have increased by 52% and the number of online shoppers by 8.8%.
Amazon, an E-Commerce giant has announced plans to hire 100,000 additional employees in the U.S to meet the ramped up demands.
They have also increased workers’ pay in the U.S., U.K, and Europe, to respond to surging online orders.
Are these Opportunities Relevant to Ghana?
Marketing globalization which is a synergistic term that defines the combination of promotion and selling of good and services in an increasingly interdependent and integrated global economy.
Globalization for some time now has not been underrated, unless a business is not ready to expand that’s when it will de-emphasize it. Even that, firms are likely to be out of business due to the always intensifying market competition.
Most business owners have now come to decipher the power of digitization which is a gateway to market globalization.
This is evidence that these opportunities are once Ghana can take advantage of.
Ghana is regarded as underdeveloped when it comes to online marketing. Three weeks’ lockdown in Ghana unraveled how we are not taking advantage of the online space to boom our businesses. Most shops were closed leaving those offering essential services to operate.
If Ghanaians were used to online marketing, I am sure a lot of transactions would have reached while ensuring corporate sustainability amidst the lockdown and other movement restrictions.
They are relevant to Ghana because, COVID-19 if not anything, will change our business trend. Time will be saved for other equally important activities, no need to plan on the venue for meetings, spend a huge sum of money on hotel reservations for participants coming from abroad, and other related expenses. With just a meeting and ID and password, we can have meetings from the comfort of our offices, homes, and what have you via Zoom, Skype, and other video conference platforms.
MTN, Airtel Tigo, and other telecommunication companies recently whitelisted online platforms that assist teaching and learning as part of the government’s effort to ensure education continuity at all levels.
I am optimistic that, this breakthrough wouldn’t have been possible if the sales level of these companies stands gridlocked.
This is an opportunity the entire country has benefited from.
What strategies can we recommend to create relevance for Ghana?
Businesses should start thinking of operating in the online space alongside the traditional form of trading.
When they do that, there will have the chance of increasing their sales as consumer behavior will change after COVID-19. Social distancing and other movement restrictions will still be in place which will deter people from coming to the market place, shops, etc., to purchase their products.
Companies will also have the opportunity to compete with other businesses abroad for market ration which will facilitate an increase in sales.
Public Institutions can now think of moving a lot of their traditional activities online which will save time, money, and other resources that will speed up output.
By doing this, more costumers can be served simultaneously while utilizing an online system. There will be a quick response to customer queries resulting in customer’s trust in brand.
When public institutions are making enough money, the government will reduce borrowing and get enough money to facilitate other developmental projects.
Ghanaians can also take advantage of online trading.
It is very convenient because once you have an internet connection, you are good to go, you are not bound by time and place. All you need is your dashboard set up on the company’s website. Purchases and orders can be made easily.
Companies would have an opportunity to make order forecasts, meeting demand on a real-time basis since it will have the data of its customers making orders at a time.
To bridge the technological gap, companies are now using artificial intelligence to imitate consumers. This allows the system to make orders on behalf of consumers who lack the technical know-how to make orders in real-time.
This will increase employment, reducing social crimes like robbery, theft, and what have you. The government will also stand the chance to benefit from taxation which can be used to develop other sectors of the economy.