Due to the unprecedented circumstances surrounding the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) crisis, some products supplied by Pollock Orora may not be cancelled or returned. These high-demand products include, but are not limited to, the following: gloves, sanitizers, disinfectant chemicals and wipes. Products ordered now are considered firm commitments to purchase and are considered non-cancellable and non-returnable. Orders cannot be cancelled and the product ordered cannot be returned for any reason other than a manufacturing defect. We will make every attempt to meet your requested needs, both during this crisis and for many years in the future. We appreciate your understanding as we all work to get through these challenging times.

What to Consider to Get Ahead of the Coronavirus

Navigating unprecedented territory like coronavirus means you’re caught in a reactionary mode.

Coronavirus does some damage. The market reacts. You react to the market. And then it repeats again and again.

If you’re reacting, you probably aren’t doing too much worse than probably even most companies. Coronavirus moves faster than many decision making processes.

But how do you get one step ahead of something you can’t control and haven’t experienced before?

It may not be as difficult as you fear. Here’s what to do:

1. Create A Team Solely Focused on Planning Ahead

Specialists got your company to where it is. And specialists can keep you ahead.

Create a team specialized in planning ahead only. Identify leaders in your organization who have experience navigating crises.

Help them create a decision-making process. And then get out of their way and let them do their thing.

2. A Simple Process to Follow

To know where to go, you have to know where you are, no matter how painful it might be to look.

So, your Get-Ahead Team’s first order is to take a baseline measurement and understand the state of your company as it is now.

Once you understand that, then you can figure out where to go. But, the problem is that you don’t know how coronavirus will change the market in the future.

Some people are actively calling for a double-dip recession the likes of which has never been seen.

Others think we’ve made it through the worst. The truth? No one knows the future.

So react with common sense by projecting the possible versions of the future and what you’ll do if each happens. Develop a plan of action should something completely unexpected happen.

At this point, you don’t need to create detailed plans. You simply want to have a broad strategic response. Take time to plan out all the details, and you’ll soon find yourself trailing the problems coronavirus causes once again.

As you develop your list of scenarios and responses, look for common themes across your various planned approaches. You can act on those with confidence.

Other approaches will make sense in some scenarios but not in others. They have some level of associated risk. So, as you move forward, learn as much as you can about each scenario to remove as much risk as possible. Then act on the plans which give you the most confidence.

3. Finally, Get Ready to Act

You need to know when it’s time to act. After all, you’re carefully crafted plans could quickly become outdated.

So, you need to set “trigger points,” which are the set of conditions that tells you it’s time to act.

And, your CEO should be involved with your Get-Ahead Team as you create these.

It will be scary, and perhaps even downright death defying. However, you can make it through. And you may even come out much better than before.

How to React to the Plummet in C-Store Sales

How far have your sales slid? Everyone’s been hit hard.

For now, what can you do to salvage enough revenue to make it through until consumers return to normal behavior again?

When could that be anyway? No one truly knows. It could be a few months. And it might be a couple years.

Then again, you could see the coronavirus come back a little in the middle of the summer or during the fall and terrify the market once more.

Will you ever find yourself in such a difficult market ever again? You may well never find yourself this challenged.

For now, what can you do to make it through until we hit the worst point (which hopefully has already happened), and things begin to get on a track to normal again?

Here’s some ideas:

1. Add Mobile Ordering and Delivery

Of course, consumers want more of this now because of the coronavirus pandemic. And at the same time, consumers in a normal market want mobile ordering and delivery.

So not only will mobile ordering and delivery help your c-store now, but it’ll help you in the years to come too.

Driving this growth are Millennials and Generation Z. 52% of these two groups say they would buy more if mobile ordering and delivery were available.

It may be hard to find the funds to add this option. But then again, it may be your best opportunity to drive growth in the near future too.

2. Add New Product Lines

Right now may be more about your c-store’s survival than anything else. You may need to have the willingness to abandon traditional product lines and add new ones.

Because consumers right now are panicking, they’re hoarding essential items like food. You know that. You probably see that happening at your grocery store.

Well, maybe for now and the foreseeable future, your c-store has to become a serious supplier of specialty snacks. You might have beef jerky at your store already, for example.

How could you expand that selection?

Desperate times call for desperate measures. And this may be the time to think way, way outside the box.

3. Why Consumers Go to C-Stores During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Not all c-store news is bad. Some consumers are willing to spend more right now. For those with that ability, Convenience Store News found this is why they go to c-stores:

  • Less crowded than other stores (57.9% of those surveyed)
  • Convenient location (35.1%)
  • Items they need actually in stock (32.5%)

Notice that word “need.” That implies an item a customer views as essential for life during the coronavirus pandemic.

How can your c-store keep hard-to-find inventory in stock more than the competition?

The coronavirus pandemic doesn’t mean you have to throw your arms up in the air and quit.

Instead, adjust to market conditions. At the very worst, you’ll be okay and make it through. And you could also hit on a new strategy that gives you a serious advantage over your competition.

How Your Customer Service Can Rock During The Coronavirus Pandemic

Some look at the coronavirus pandemic and think,”Oh boy, what do we do now? The world’s never going to be the same!”

But others look at the exact same set of circumstances, recognizing they present an incredible opportunity.

American business has made it through the Great Depression, Black Monday, the 2001 .COM crash, and lately, the Great Recession.

…And that’s just the short list of crises we’ve made it through in the past century!

We’ll undoubtedly make it through the coronavirus pandemic too.

So, how can you make the most of it, instead of running around in circles and yelling,”The sky is falling! The sky is falling!”

Here’s some simple things to focus on with your customer service team:

1. Retrain Your Workforce to Keep Customer Service Quality High

Don’t cap overtime. Let your customer service team work extra hours.

And cross-train your existing employees to make sure customers get the same high-quality service they expect from you.

What better way to make a lasting impression on your customers than to be the company who offered awesome service throughout the coronavirus pandemic?

2. Adapt Your Business Model

Some companies, and this is absolutely no joke, offer overnight delivery of their product at no additional charge.

What if that doesn’t work with your budget?

No problem! Do what you can. Maybe you can offer reduced-cost expedited delivery. Or, perhaps you offer a 20% discount on future purchases.

You have at your disposal a million different ways to improve customer service. So figure out what works with your budget, and do what you can to help your customers out.

3. Improve Your Online Ordering Processes

Market segments (such as Baby Boomers) who previously minimized the importance of ordering online or ignored it entirely, will shift towards online ordering.

They may do all or some of their shopping online. It’s hard to say what the true extent of the change will be.

But it will happen. They’re the generation with the highest potential suffer the worst effects of coronavirus after all.

So, how can you accommodate this market shift with your customer service team?

4. Humanize Your Online Customer Service

Does your customer service team see customers as people or business transactions?

Which view do your own internal business policies encourage?

Do customer service reps just recite their way through the process? Or do they take the time to listen, care and get your customers a genuine solution?

Could you be different and offer a video feed when your customers contact you online, which is something practically no company currently does?

Every little interaction needs to go under a microscope. Adapt each to help your customers feel like real, worthwhile people…because they are!

Don’t throw away this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to offer stellar customer service that skyrockets your business.

Aiming to truly be of service to your customers wins them over in droves. And that effect only increases during an extreme crisis like we find ourselves in.

How to Be a Leader During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Everyone wants someone who’s comfortable with being in charge during times of crises. And that effect is amplified at least a hundred times because we have absolutely no experience dealing with something like coronavirus.

How do you lead effectively? What do others need from you? What should you focus on?

It’s never easy to lead because not everyone agrees with you or likes what you do.

But you can lead your company through coronavirus. And here’s some of the top things to consider as you do:

1. Remain Confident You’ll Get Through

“The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.” – John Maxwell

Mr. Maxwell has written many books on leadership which have sold millions of copies. Several have even made the New York Times Best Seller List.

Notice the above quote doesn’t place the focus on optimism. Rather, it emphasizes following through on a plan of action and making it through.

That needs to be your attitude. You don’t need to know what’s going to happen or how you’ll deal with it.

You just need the confidence that somehow, some way, you’ll make it through. People will notice that and they’ll come right along with you when they see that’s your attitude.

2. Always Tell the Truth

Never sugarcoat. People pick up on that, realize you’re full of it, they lose trust, and then they leave.

Always tell your employees the truth. And if you don’t know the truth, simply say,”I don’t know. But we’ll figure it out.”

Employees should never be confused after hearing what you say. They should know exactly where you stand and what you’re planning to do.

3. Focus on Empathy And Service

Employees, and humans in general, want security, comfort, and love. They want to know that above all else, you care for them.

If they sense you looking out for your own interests in favor of theirs, they’re not going to hang around.

Or, they’ll perform at a much lower level than you would like.

Have empathy for all the chaos they’re going through. Aim to help out in any way you can, no matter how small.

The best way to get others to care about you and your company during a crisis lies in caring for them first.

Leadership is not easy, even in a normal market. But you can do it – otherwise you wouldn’t have the leadership position that you do.

So, take a deep breath, think carefully about your next steps, and trust it’ll all end up okay. And you’ll make it through just fine, no matter how intimidating the circumstances.

How Are American Businesses Responding to Coronavirus?

American companies, those which can remain in operation, aren’t simply letting coronavirus have its way.

While you can’t control what coronavirus does, you can adjust and make the most of it.

Take a look at what some other companies have decided to do while coronavirus does its thing:

1. Keeping Patient Mental Toughness

Yes. It’s hard to be patient when your business is going through massive upheaval. You may be one of the businesses who has lost all or most of your revenue.

What are most CEOs doing?

They’re hanging tough.

According to the Young Presidents Organization, 82% of the CEOs surveyed believe revenue will continue to fall for the next six months. However, 54% expect revenue to be back to normal in a year.

YPO also found that CEOs are communicating more with employees, adopting new health and safety procedures, cancelling events, and stopping business travel.

With everyone cooped up for at least the foreseeable future, this brings great opportunity for innovation.

2. Companies Watch Out for Employee Health

Some companies aren’t caring for the health of their workforce. But others are.

Walmart has said it will allow any employee to take time off to avoid the virus if they’re afraid of it. They don’t need proof of an outbreak threatening their health. They’re simply allowed to stay home if they have any fear.

The state of Colorado has also enacted a new policy that will require employers to offer paid time off to their employees.

Starbucks will also allow its employees to attend therapy sessions at the company’s cost. It had been rolling out its new mental health benefit prior to coronavirus’s outbreak. And now it’s following through as it spreads.

Taking care of your employees during crises builds trust and morale. And it can help you win a stronger market position as the economy returns to normal.

3. Giving to Charity

No joke. Even as businesses get crushed by coronavirus, many continue to give to charity.

Empirical studies have established a definite connection between corporations who give to charity and stable long-term financial performance. They’re also more likely to recover following a crisis.

You may not have the means to continue giving at your normal levels as coronavirus progresses. And you may think it’s completely crazy to consider.

But it does help you through, strange as it sounds. So look at your budget, and continue to give as best you can.

Coronavirus will win some battles. But it doesn’t need to win the war. You’re not helpless. You can take action and make the most of it.

So plan your strategy based on what you’ve learned here, and you’ll make it through bruised, but okay!

3 Principles for Unforgettable Online Customer Service

US e-commerce sales grew 14.9% from 2018 to 2019. Revenues were $523 billion in 2018 and grew to $602 billion in 2019.

And with the coronavirus pandemic in full force, e-commerce sales have skyrocketed in essential product categories.

Plus, you know the market won’t change back to its pre-coronavirus behavior anytime soon. Consumers will remain frightened as they slowly creep back into their regular lives.

How long will it take for them to regain their confidence that life is once again normal?

No one knows.

And the coronavirus pandemic may convince consumers to stay home and do more of their shopping online…for the rest of their lives.

So that means it’s up to you to adjust. What do consumers want to see from your online customer service that makes them feel elated?

Here’s some tips:

1. Customers Expect Highly Personalized Multichannel Service

Some customers want to call. Others prefer live chat. And still others would rather email, Tweet, or Facebook you.

The great thing about online customer service is that you can offer highly personalized experiences. The challenging thing about online customer service is that you have to offer highly personalized experiences.

That’s not a typo!

So, you must invest time and money understanding your market and how they like to communicate. And you should invest in software that consolidates and eases customer service across multiple channels so you never miss a beat.

2. Every Little Detail Counts

If you think attention to detail is paramount in your traditional business operations, magnify that effect times ten for your online customer service.

For example, have you ever had to attempt to read a captcha box to submit an email, only to have to enter the info in 2-3 times because you can’t read the practically illegible letters?

Or, have you ever used a slow website that drives you nuts while you try to find what you want?

The slightest thing affects consumer behavior. But on the positive side, you can control those slight things, which allows you to improve customer experience and snatch more revenue.

3. Automate Simple Customer Service Tasks

This could be a much larger than expected win for your company. You can save serious labor and equipment costs by automating simple and routine customer service tasks.

Note that this doesn’t mean forcing your customers to use these options. Still give them the opportunity to talk with your team.

But, for simple stuff, like updating account information, give them the option of doing it themselves and make it abundantly clear they can do so.

A study by American Express found that more than 60% of consumers prefer automated self-service.

Improving customer service could be just what your company needs to make it through this wildly unpredictable market.

So, analyze your company and see how these simple tips can fit in and drive your service through the roof.

What Do Modern Customers Want?

Remember that customer who said to you,”I love waiting. It’s really not a problem. I don’t mind an extra 5-10 minutes here or there.”

Of course, not a single customer has ever said anything like that.

And even if you do hear something along those lines, you know that they would prefer to have it now without any wait.

So, take a look at some of these examples to see how leading companies give modern customers exactly what they want:

1. What to Do About Wait Time

Amazon delivers your package the same-day or next-day. You get status updates all along the way.

When you hail an Uber taxi, you can see it as it gets closer on the map.

And Disneyland has an app that gives you your exact wait time for every ride.

How can you give your customers up-to-the-minute wait time updates so they have much lower anxiety and don’t feel the need to call in as much?

2. Content Consumption

Customers don’t wander around the store, or digital store, wondering what there is to buy. They might do that a little.

But, today’s customer builds a much deeper relationship with a product prior to buying.

That’s because they can watch video reviews of products, see unboxing experiences, read professional reviews, and learn quality by reading reviews at their favorite retail site.

It doesn’t matter how big or small the product. There’s usually at least dozens of other people discussing it somewhere online.

For example, visit Home Depot’s Vine feed. More than 7.6 million people follow Home Depot’s Vine feed for DIY video how-tos and new uses for old products.

You don’t need to be on every channel available (there’s too many).

But, how could you create engaging content for customers to interact more with your brand and specific products?

3. Customers Want You to Understand How They Use your Products

According to Salesforce, 70% of customers say your understanding of how they use your product is key to winning their business.

And, for reasons already discussed, you can do just that. What reasons?

Well, you simply Google your product name and search for videos, blog posts, forum posts, and other content.

Or, you do the same for competing products.

In just a few days, you can learn exactly how consumers use your product. And it used to take years to get that information!

If you want more data, you can always solicit customer content through your existing social media channels. Just ask, and offer maybe a small reward for a few customers who respond.

As with anything, focusing on your customers first wins the day. You may have to make some tactical shifts from your traditional business model.

But, you’ll easily surpass brick-and-mortars trapped in old ways of thinking and doing. And it’ll be too late for them to adjust once they figure out what to do.

How to Mitigate the Coronavirus Risk at Your Workplace

The world waits in suspense. Almost everything of major public importance doesn’t allow groups to meet in public.

Will coronavirus unleash complete havoc? Some may say it already has. But the effects could get far worse than the United States’ 3700 cases and 69 confirmed deaths so far.

And possibly, with the help of action from the public and private employers, it might not get too much worse.

What can your workplace do to minimize its potential to spread?

Here’s a summary of the CDC’s recommendations:

1. Tell Your Sick Employees to Stay Home

Employees with fevers and symptoms of respiratory illness should stay home. They should not return to work until they have been free of symptoms for at least 24 hours.

You may need to investigate temporary or contract workers to help you make it through the next few months. Consider cross training some employees also. Or, let them work remotely from home.

2. Send Sick Employees Home

Any employee with even just minor signs of respiratory illness (cough, sniffling, sneezing, shortness of breath) should just go home. While still at the office, they should cover their noses or mouths with a tissue or use their elbow until they leave.

3. Educate Employees to Use Proper Respiratory Etiquette and Hand Hygiene

Use whatever you need to communicate with employees and embed what they need to do in their minds. Posters, emails, simple websites, texts, social media…whatever forms of communication they use most.

The more consistently they see the message, the more likely they are to not overlook what to do.

Proper respiratory etiquette includes covering your mouth and nose as mentioned in tip number two, as well as washing your hands after coughing or sneezing into them. Proper hand washing regimen includes singing “Happy Birthday” to yourself two times while washing your hands.

4. Put Your Office-Cleaning Routine on High Alert

You may have to ask your janitorial team how they will respond. Make sure they step up the frequency of their cleaning of commonly touched surfaces.

You may also ask your employees to help in this too. It’s really hard to overdo it during these uncertain times.

Ultimately, you can’t control how far coronavirus spreads. It only takes one careless person to cause it to spread widely. But, with these steps, you can dramatically reduce your risk.

So, do your best. And prepare to adjust in an instant should things go an unexpected direction.

How Should Your Business React to the Coronavirus Threat?

Consumers are hoarding daily living essentials like bottled water and toilet paper. Perhaps you’ve seen both missing at your local grocery store.

At this point, that probably seems quite irrational to you. And for now, you’re probably right to feel a bit confused about such behavior.

…But what about your business? How should your company react to what could possibly be a serious threat to your operations for some months?

Take a look at some of the data as you formulate your own response:

1. McKinsey & Company Reports

“The virus disproportionately affects older people with underlying conditions,” says McKinsey & Company.

Epidemiologists reviewed data from China’s CDC. The fatality rate ran seven times higher than normal for people over 80 and 3-4 times above normal for those over 70.

…But they didn’t mention any significant data for people of working age.

What’s more is that new cases in China have fallen substantially off their peak. At the beginning of February, around 900-1000 new cases were discovered per day.

However, that number has now fallen to 5-10 cases, or possibly even less.

Whatever you hear elsewhere, McKinsey & Company currently believes in “…a more optimistic outcome to COVID-19…”

2. NFIB Research Center Says Most SMBs Currently Not Affected

For the most part, small businesses have not yet been affected by coronavirus. NFIB data reports that 74% say they haven’t been negatively affected yet.

At the same time, small business owners have legitimate concerns about coronavirus’ impact over the next three months. And they’re taking steps to minimize the potential negative impact.

30% of SMB owners have stocked up on hand sanitizer and disinfectant. 12% have increased their communication with employees about taking sick leave or working from home. And 3% have modified their supply chain, which could include changing suppliers.

However, that still leaves a 52% majority who haven’t done anything yet.

3. US Chamber of Commerce Guidance

The US Chamber of Commerce released its own simple plan to help SMBs prepare for coronavirus in advance.

For now, they recommend pretty simple measures most SMBs can accommodate:

  • Allow employees to work from home
  • Offer flexible work hours, as employees may need to stay home because of their own sickness or watch their children due to school closings
  • Have a communications plan established with your employees
  • Listen for guidance from state and local health officials
  • Review your business continuity plan (identifying alternative suppliers or temporarily suspending certain operations if needed)

At this point, it seems wise to have a basic reaction plan in place. No one knows how far coronavirus will spread. It may have done its worst. The worst may be around the corner.

But…you’re never stupid to prepare in advance. So, begin to think out your reaction strategy. And prepare to implement it in the snap of a finger should it become necessary.

How C-Stores Are Responding to the Coronavirus Threat

What do you do in a situation no one has experienced before, and which no one really was ready for?

Like the situation we all find ourselves in right now. And on top of that, it took basically about six weeks for coronavirus to hit and run its course in China.

So, you have a short window to respond when typically you may take that entire time, or even much longer, to make and implement new decisions.

It’s tough. So here’s some tips and examples to guide the decisions you make at your own c-store:

1. Increase Sanitization

It may not be possible to come up with the perfect sanitization plan. However, every effort you make reduces risk and helps your associates and customers feel safe.

Increase the frequency of cleaning your food prep equipment, counters, restrooms, fuel pumps, and all high-touch areas of your store. Make sure your associates wash their hands correctly and with greater frequency.

And if your team members show any signs of respiratory illness, send them home.

Red Cross offers a more thorough tip sheet on its website.

2. Communicate to Your Customers

Tell your customers exactly how you’re responding to the coronavirus, whether by email or a smattering of signs throughout your store.

Failing to communicate is almost as much of a failure as not responding all. You can’t really overdo it.

The more your customers hear your message, the more they accept and believe that you’re taking the situation seriously and doing everything you can to keep coronavirus from spreading.

And that builds their trust and confidence.

3. Take Care of Your Associates

Crises like coronavirus bring out the best and worst in people and businesses. You’ll hear stories of companies doing valiant things…and stories of businesses doing horrific things.

How you respond during coronavirus will affect the long-term morale and perception of your company by your associates.

View this as an opportunity to do the right thing and let your associates know how much you care about them.

Of course, you have to be sensitive to your budget too. You can only give within your means.

However, do a serious numbers crunch and consider things like offering paid time off to associates who become sick or covering their additional healthcare expenses. Or, help them with childcare expenses.

Cared-for associates stick around, do awesome work, and help your company achieve great things.

This is a tough situation. And all you can do is make the best of it until coronavirus does its thing and passes.

For now, at least you have a bit of guidance regarding coronavirus so you formulate your own response and make it through this challenging time.

A Health and Safety Update

April 6, 2020

Dear Valued Customer,

As the COVID-19 global health crisis continues to evolve, Pollock Orora remains committed to placing the highest concern on the health and wellness of our co-workers while maintaining operations to safely support our customers. Our foundational values of teamwork, passion, respect and integrity are unwavering and continue to guide us in these challenging times.

The Orora Crisis Management Team is closely monitoring the advice and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to implement best practice across all Orora locations. We continue to ensure that co-workers who cannot perform their duties from home are following social distancing, regular hand washing and sanitizing recommendations. We have had co-workers who are ill remain at home and have instituted quarantining as needed. We have significantly increased our disinfecting practices at every site and implemented at least 30 minutes between every shift to decrease the amount of co-worker contact and interaction. This also allows us to disinfect and clean between shifts.

Due to our scale, Orora is uniquely positioned to provide ongoing service even in these most challenging times. All 2,700 of our co-workers across 65 sites (while many are working from home) remain focused on the highest level of service to our customers. This support is enabled by our state of the art technology and our SAP ERP system. We have reviewed our business continuity plans to prepare for site interruptions and minimize impact. We are currently recommending that customers increase their level of on-site safety stock for critical items in the event we are forced to temporarily close a site due to co-worker’s exposure.

Over the past week, we have experienced three positive COVID-19 cases impacting our team. On Monday March 30th, we were first informed of a positive co-worker test, on April 1st and April 4th we had second & third confirmed cases in a separate location. Most importantly, one of the co-workers has recovered fully and is back to work and we continue to stay in close contact with the others. Upon learning of these cases, our Orora Site Recovery Team went immediately into action. Using the CDC guidelines to direct us, we determined the need to temporarily shut down the sites, bring in a professional industrial disinfecting service, apply our evaluation protocols to isolate anyone who may have been exposed or was determined to be at risk, and only after we were assured of the safety of our co-workers, we had them return to work. We also made sure that there was a 14-day window between the last contact with the ill co-workers and the return of people to the sites which both re-opened late last week. While closed, we shifted business from these locations to our other local sites to support urgent customer needs. We will utilize our learning from these instances to continue our preparedness for potential future impact. All Orora Packaging Solutions locations in North America are open and fully operational.

In this dynamic environment, the Orora Crisis Management Team will evaluate status on a daily basis and continue to make decisions appropriate for that time. We will provide updates on our website at ororapackagingsolutions.com under the “Resource” section. If you have any questions, please reach out to your Orora Sales Representative or email solutions@ororagroup.com.

Lastly, our hearts go out to everyone who has been impacted by this virus, directly or indirectly. Our thoughts are with those who are ill, and we extend our sincere wishes for a full recovery. Additionally, we are truly inspired by the healthcare workers and first responders who are working selflessly and tirelessly in our communities every day.

We are sincerely grateful for your continued business and partnership through this challenging time and look forward to supporting you in the weeks, months and years to come.

Regards,

 

 

 

 

Bernie Salvatore
President & CEO, Orora Packaging Solutions

How Chinese Retailers Have Successfully Responded to the Coronavirus Threat

China is weeks ahead in its struggles with coronavirus. And currently, “China appears to be in the early stages of an economic rebound” says Harvard Business Review.

Ultimately, you can’t predict the course of coronavirus. It’s highly dependent on the response of each individual person.

It could be worse in the US, better, or the same. So how do you respond to a business climate where no one really knows what’s going on, and which could explode in a negative way at any moment?

Well, here’s what the experts at Harvard Business Review, who’ve had close contact with Chinese retailers as they’ve dealt with the situation, have to say:

1. React Fast

You don’t have time to research data and make complex decisions that require agreement from multiple parties. Your CEO needs to take charge and make decisions that get implemented now.

And you have to keep your CEO well-informed so they can change those decisions and your company can react on a dime.

One Chinese beverage company, Master Kong, reviewed market changes daily and responded accordingly. It shifted focus from offline retail to online, and online-to-offline.

2. Allow Business Units to Implement Your CEO’s Direction in Their Own Way

Your business has many different markets, which all respond in unique ways. One Chinese hotel company, Huazhu, had a task force which met daily and created guidance for the whole chain of 6,000 hotels in 400 cities.

They also had an internal app that they constantly updated with timely information as it became available.

Franchisees were then allowed to adapt their own business operations to their local markets as public health officials made decisions.

3. Shift Your Sales Channel Mix

How would you like 200% year-over-year growth during this coronavirus outbreak?

That’s what one Chinese cosmetics company, Lin Qingxuan, achieved. And they had to close around 40% of their stores during the outbreak.

In reaction to coronavirus, they shifted their 100 beauty advisors efforts to online efforts. The advisors used WeChat to engage customers and drive more sales.

And that’s how they achieved 200% year-over-year growth in a turbulent market.

4. Prepare for a Faster Recovery Than You Expect

The media love to spread panic because that’s what people want to hear. But don’t sweat it too much.

In China, the spread of the coronavirus really only lasted about 6 weeks before recovery began.

You can’t forecast what will happen in the US. Some critics maintain we’ve responded way too slowly, and it’s possible our own recovery could take longer.

But, the point the Harvard Business Review article made was to begin recovery planning today. And the larger you are, the more important this becomes because it takes more time for your policies to take effect.

You can learn much more about how Chinese companies have responded to coronavirus. Check out the rest of the Harvard Business Review article.