2020 was special for all of our customers. COVID-19 was, of course, the plaything we all had to learn to juggle. Some saw their business threatened, others found in the crisis the opportunity they were waiting for. The unpredictability of the corona crisis played a special role in this. Because we as a society are experiencing an unseen moment of stress, it is very difficult for managers and business owners to make decisions. Communication between experts, government and the public was suboptimal, which added to the uncertainty. As a result, new investments were deemed riskier, and financiers became extra cautious. The engine sputtered as never before.
The nature of the corona crisis made the lack of resilience of many companies painfully obvious.
Entrepreneurs doing business in a traditional way were punished in the short term, especially in the B2C sector. A clear example was the food & retail sector. Those who had been living on reputation for years but had not invested in online communication and sales saw their turnover plummet immediately. There was still furniture to be saved, but catching up digitally in such a short space of time is not obvious. Certainly not if you were a business owner with insufficient digital baggage. However, the only option was to change your business model and focus on online conversion.
That's why we saw so many harrowing articles in the media about business owners with their hands in their pockets, but also pop-ups and creative entrepreneurs who couldn't keep up with the orders. The contrast could not be greater.
So we suddenly woke up in a different world. Digitally potent entrepreneurs were surging past old skool. The way to approach customers and work together was suddenly simple: online and digital. If you weren't on board, you had a lot of catching up to do. In the very short term, we provided both governments and companies with digital work environments and training to deal with them. Prospecting, marketing and social interaction were suddenly much more difficult for business developers.
Some companies went under but are now massively replaced by new, young entrepreneurs who see the opportunity in the crisis. Our mailbox can testify to that, where there are many new inquiries with fresh ideas. Ideas that were already there, but are now gaining momentum. And these are always motivated, intelligent people who want to move forward with us.
So if you want to keep up with your competition in 2021, you will have to bet on this new reality. The most important tips I can give are actually very simple:
2021 will actually bring what was going to happen more gradually anyway, but at a faster pace. Online e-commerce had already been on the rise for 10 years, but has only now really become mainstream. If you do not have an online business in retail, you do not exist.
Communication was also a necessity online but is now even more important. Social media is more popular than before and has also become an important marketplace to experience products or services and buy them immediately. Your website remains an important link but fits as a puzzle piece in a whole of your online presence. Investing in ultimate usability and convenience is therefore of great importance, across all your digital channels.
Data and media are exchanged in unbelievable quantities and a high-performance and user-friendly digital environment is therefore a necessity for survival. Insight into this data is crucial. Make sure you have data capture and concrete reporting so you can respond faster to trends.
There are plenty of competitors waiting who are all capable of offering better online experiences. On the one hand, there are smart, established companies that have used 2020 to arm themselves against the crisis and have already made plans a year in advance to make 2021 pop. I would venture to say that Calibrate and by extension the Cronos group are among them. On the other hand, you have the new, fresh entrepreneurs who are going to shake up sectors even more with force and non-traditional ideas.
If you still have a competitive advantage at the moment, then today is the time to be critical about it. So I recommend every entrepreneur to have their ideas and online presence looked at with a good number of suspicious eyes. Because 2021 will be a year in which the competition will be even fiercer than before.