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.