Business opportunities in the pandemic and the road ahead

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To face a post-COVID-19 world with confidence, businesses are advised to modify their current processes, culture, and customer experiences. Harvey Chan from Payment Asia has some ideas 

The aggressive outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused everyone to make transitions in their daily lives. There is the global search for masks and alcohol hand sanitizers and new hygiene protocols around the world. 17 years ago, when SARS affected the citizens of Hong Kong, everyone changed their hygiene habits. Payment Asia – established in 1999, had this experience 17 years ago, by participating in the transformation of an old business model to the new ecommerce era. History repeats itself!

It is said that it was actually SARS which transformed a new online lifestyle, whilst the birth of Alibaba Taobao and Tencent WeChat was inspired by the epidemic that year. Perhaps one would really have to ask Jack Ma and Pony Ma for the truth. Still, COVID-19 has indeed changed the way of life of people around the world. In order to avoid community outbreaks, companies and schools are all enforcing ‘Work/Study From Home’, public events are cancelled, and people are advised to keep ‘social distancing’. Most people are advised to stay home at all times, and as a result these people are now being more active online.

Taking online shopping as an example, users are no longer only young people who order overseas fashion or visit niche boutique online shops. The most frequent shoppers are housewives who used to visit supermarkets in the past and now have gone online to buy daily necessities such as rice, oil, and salt, everything needed in their household. Their mode of shopping has also changed from ‘only going out to buy when necessary’ to stocking up on necessities such as rice and toilet paper. Coupled with the rapid development of logistics technology, fresh frozen food which was thought impossible to deliver in the past, and even perishable goods such as milk and ice cream, can be easily and quickly delivered at home.

Today’s technology is far more advanced than it was 17 years ago, and with the introduction of 5G, network services cover a much wider range. In the past, people mostly searched the Internet for professional service information or users’ opinions before visiting the shop. Now, they shop directly online. For example, online medical services, which used to only provide information, are now available for appointment and consultation. Hospitals/clinics also provide one-stop services for dispensing and delivering medicines to patients’ homes. In the past, piano or other musical instruments had to be taught on-site in person, but now a lot of software together with teachers’ online guidance has replaced many music classes. There are also online yoga or other exercise instructions, and so on, all of which are flourishing under this pandemic.

The aggressive outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has brought so much change to everyone’s lifestyle. The scale and profound impact of this would be unimaginable under normal circumstances. When citizens have succeeded in trying new ways, it can be expected that once the pandemic is over, the brand-new business model will significantly reduce the demand for ‘shop fronts’ or ‘physical services’, and the economic model of developer hegemony will be under great challenge.

For all enterprises and those who are interested in starting their own businesses, in addition to staying at home to reduce the chance of infection and the burden of medical care, it may be a good idea to take this time to reflect on future development trends and business strategies.

Payment Asia, with its 20 years’ experience as an ecommerce pioneer in Asia, is in full force to assist different industries and businesses to speed up their digital transformation process. For any business today, it is time to modify your current business processes, culture, and customer experiences to face this post-COVID-19 world soon with confidence!