The COVID-19 pandemic forced companies of all sizes, shapes and types to change their business models in order to survive. Many unfortunately didn't survive, but for those that do things will never be the same again. Now, with vaccines in sight that could put an end to the pandemic within months, businesses are looking at permanent changes in a post-COVID world.
Dr. Betsy Gelb, professor of marketing and entrepreneurship at the University of Houston, says the biggest change across all businesses is the move toward contactless, virtual transactions. "The idea that I really don't have to chat with somebody to get what I want is going to be appealing to some customers, and is also going to be appealing to some businesses," she tells KTRH.
This move to virtual transactions goes beyond ordering groceries online or items from Amazon. "Could you see yourself Zooming with the person who is going to sell you a sofa...and you agree to the terms, and they tell you here's where they're going to ship it, and you've never gone into the furniture store," says Gelb. "That's a whole new thing."
The virtual sales dynamic is also at work when it comes to business-business transactions, meaning less travel and traditional sales calls for employees. "The business doesn't mind at all turning its sales people loose to recruit new customers, as opposed to taking orders from the old ones, who can now order online," says Gelb.
Besides virtual transactions becoming the norm, the other big change Gelb sees is businesses becoming more versatile, like a restaurant acting as a pick-up food store or a movie theater hosting non-movie events. "As a business owner, I've got to figure out what else I can do besides what I have traditionally done," she says.