This is a time for transformation. Everywhere across the globe and locally, businesses are adjusting and adapting to the New Normal: looking for new markets, pivoting their strategies, and coming up with new products.
Everywhere across the globe, countries are also turning inward to protect their people and their borders. With shipping crippled and production lines stalled, many businesses are looking towards their neighbors for additional support. The hyperlocal marketplace is thriving. E-commerce and digital transactions are on the forefront, with even the central bank (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, BSP) waiving fees for new e-payment services.
Here are a few ways how your business can take advantage of this shift and support local initiatives.
#1 Support the Hyperlocal Marketplace Near You
The surge of activity within limited geographical areas has been phenomenal, if not expected. With extremely limited or nonexistent transportation, consumers and businesses have had to adapt to serve the market at their own reach--their neighbors.
While the smaller market holds its own challenges, a business that operates in this space has a more immediate, and intimate, view of their customers’ needs due to living within the demographic itself. With this knowledge, they can anticipate market changes quicker and adapt to the demands of their customers faster.
Within communities, a surge of local pabili services, group orders, and homegrown businesses are testament to how vibrant this marketplace is. The proliferation of online communities held through Facebook, Viber, and the like help locals get access to this wealth of contacts and information.
Whether it is purchasing from local sellers, or offering your business’ services to this niche, keeping this vibrant economy alive will help everyone get through this current crisis.
#2 Source New Suppliers From Local Sources
From February, the global shipping sector became crippled with ports closing and nationwide shutdowns. This continued on as the outbreak spread through Europe and the Americas. Locally, with cities and provinces in strict quarantine, the movement of goods has almost completely halted.
Once again, it is possible to turn to local marketplaces to fill the gaps. For example, businesses are turning to alternative, locally-available packaging. Many printing services have started catering more to local businesses as new businesses and old ones attempt to pivot. Delivery services for nearby locales have also been on a rise, with businesses hiring on dedicated riders to address transportation limitations.
While locally available sources may have higher premiums than mass production suppliers, this allows businesses to continue through the pandemic. Supporting local suppliers also provide important income to these businesses that will allow them to improve.
#3 Support Local Freelancers
Consider hiring local freelancers for positions that you may need assistance with. Many professionals are looking for means to supplement their decreased incomes due to forced leaves and business shutdowns across the country; with this influx of new talent, you have a bigger pool to choose from and higher chances of finding the right person for the team.
A good working relationship with your local freelancers is key. The benefits are many: sharing a common language, culture, and timezone can only be beneficial to any working relationship.
Additionally, a move towards remote workplaces have long been gaining traction over the recent years. You may wish to assess providing remote work arrangements permanently even after the pandemic blows over.
#4 Lift Up Local Businesses in Your Online Communications
Supporting local businesses in your supply chain and dealings is important. However, it is also vital to support these businesses explicitly through communications with our consumers and partners. With online activity at an all-time high, one of the best mouthpieces for this support is through online messaging.
Everyone is online, on Facebook or other online communities. This consumption of information easily disseminated by the consumers themselves can be used to hold up other local businesses. A changing narrative from imported goods to local products have slowly been shifting over the last few years.
Adding your business to that noise helps move the narrative forward. As more and more people move to supporting local businesses, the collective mindset can be shifted. This can only mean better opportunities and a larger, more receptive market to other local businesses.
#5 Establish Health Safety Practices
It is important to ensure that safety practices are in place when doing business with employees and partners. Taking care of your employees and partners also protect your business from further disruption. While manpower is scarce and transportation is challenging, heightened health safety measures are important to maintain continuity.
Wearing face masks, limiting contact with other people, regular disinfection of used surfaces are all key to mitigate the spread of the disease. Make sure your business complies with local regulations regarding reopening. Many businesses have shorter opening hours, limited shipping windows, and protective measures in place such as protective gear and equipment as well as rearranged premises to allow for social distancing measures to be possible.
The Way Forward is to Embrace the New Normal
With no sign of a vaccine or herd immunity in the near future, the New Normal is here to stay for a while yet. While businesses have been allowed to reopen and the economy is slowly coming back up, this continues to be a time of vigilance and mindfulness.
There are many reasons to do so: it is a time of sink or swim, and businesses will need to come up with return plans amid staying afloat in the current climate.
There is no better time to support local businesses than now.