MAP InsightsColumn in BUSINESSWORLD
Bounce Back And Pivotwritten by Pacita U. Juan - April 28, 2020
There is no turning back. This is the NEW NORMAL. We must accept it and get used to it and most of all, adjust our business, job or career to adapt to it.
When the lockdown was announced for the National Capital Region (NCR), I thought to myself: This is IT! This is the day we should have prepared for many years ago. Part of our preparation was our business partner’s pronouncements that the “end of A world” was forthcoming. Call it ethereal or weird, we often are tempted to look to those stars when we want to know where the business climate is headed.
As the events were coming to a head—traffic getting worse, the climate getting our environmentalists angrier each day, the Slow Food Movement of consuming good, clean and fair food, Sustainable Tourism, Boracay’s closure… they had to build up to something, and now here it is.
As soon as the malls started confirming closure, one after another, I was thinking of how to make our business bounce back, since most of our stores are located in malls. Was there an end to this? Will we ever reopen again? Meanwhile, the multi-tasking me was directing our staff to pull out sensitive inventory like food—as we did not know how long the closure would take.
Then my partners and I sat down, albeit virtually and told each other: “we knew this day would come somehow.” And that was it. But we had to be the stronger force and calm our staff to just carry on, as much as we could.
What is a retailer to do?
1. Go ONLINE. Many years ago, we started our e-commerce presence and envied how the big players run their sites. Now our online business is doing much better than our brick and mortar store.
2. Use an inventory system software. We invested in software which everyone thought was so expensive for an MSME like ours. Today, we are thankful, we know exactly what we have and where it is located.
3. Learn tech. I had to understand terms like User Experience (UX), Interface, Traffic, and other techie terms used by IT people, especially for an e-commerce and website or Search Engine Optimization.
4. Understand your supply chain. I was tutored by a very respected Supply Chain Professional (thanks to MAP) and was assured I had the right ingredients for a distribution system.
I am speaking for MSMEs. We cannot afford top-notch supply chain executives. We cannot afford a CFO or a COO. We are just simple people managing a social enterprise and making sure we have stocks that arrive just in time and that we are able to manage cash flow. All these while conducting our NGO work on our non-profit organization teaching MSMEs how to reach new markets.
Today, we have to learn how to manage our business without a back office or having many locations.
Pivot to another side of the business or a new way of doing business.
HYPERLOCAL IS THE TREND
What has happened for the last month? I joined Viber marketplaces and introduced our products to a hyperlocal market- that’s your next door neighbor, your apartment mates, your village colleagues and friends you never though lived near you.
People will be scared to go back to the traditional ways—malling, dining out and having personal meetings or meet-ups. Learn to use Google Hangouts, Zoom and other meeting platforms.
STRAT PLANNING – is it still relevant?
We have to take it a week at a time but imagining the long haul—maybe 6 to 12 months. We have to be on our toes and ever ready for whatever may come.
DIVERSIFY and RESKILL
We can no longer be what we used to be. We have to learn new skills or hone the ones we have put off so many times before. “I will learn that someday!” you used to say. It’s time to do it now—learn how to pay your bills online, learn how to transfer money with Gcash or Paymaya. There is no secretary or accountant to do it for you.
And remember, age is not or never will be a barrier to learning something new, except maybe learning a foreign language or playing the piano. But not making your own letters, and using Google for almost anything.
Everyone must bounce back and pivot. Learn to call Grab or hail a Lalamove. There are no assistants, only children who themselves are learning new skills (how not to get bored with parents).
And accept the new reality. Most of all, pray and think of how this is changing our world. Everything we have been working on as an advocacy is now a reality—cooler temperatures, no traffic, a greener planet. Maybe this is what we have all been waiting for, albeit in a very precarious manner.
And best of all, pray and be thankful we are alive to see this new world. Stay safe and stay COVID-free.
(This article reflects the personal opinion of the author and does not reflect the official stand of the Management Association of the Philippines or the MAP.)
PACITA “Chit” U. JUAN is the President of the Philippine Coffee Board, Inc.