Business is business, after all. At some indeterminate point in the near future, commerce will fully resume, but we’re going to see changes. Some are already well underway. Digital is supplying society’s needs now, helping us live well on lockdown. That’s just how it is now.
Because business instinctively capitalizes on any situation, be it comic or tragic, and as companies are urgently seeking ways to re-engineer rather than disappear, the new COVID-19 Business Recovery Report, a collaboration between PYMNTS and American Express, documents inventive and quick-witted ways that business owners are retooling to stay afloat.
“Many companies are quickly pivoting their business models and adjusting services to maintain some of their revenues during the outbreak and prepare themselves for comebacks once the crisis ends,” according to the new report. “Gyms and fitness clubs are launching virtual classes, for example, while restaurants are focusing on takeout and delivery orders and travel companies are exploring whether more flexible cancellation plans will entice business travelers to book future trips.”
Fresh Thinking and New Models
The COVID-19 Business Recovery Report contains numerous examples of businesses doing ingenious things to keep going until new cashflow and revenue sources are established.
“Fitness centers that typically accept payments for on-site classes need to adopt methods that allow consumers to pay for virtual offerings, and some are turning to payment facilitators to do so,” the report states. “Restaurants are also reimagining their transaction experiences, with many encouraging contactless digital payments while forgoing cash due to concerns that the virus can linger on paper.”
Such concerns never troubled operators before. Now, survival depends on fresh thinking about new models. “The COVID-19 pandemic has changed consumers’ payment and commerce behaviors significantly,” Allison Keane, director of U.S. partner acquisition at American Express, told PYMNTS. “Contactless and digital payment options are likely to continue gaining traction as more sanitary [alternatives] to cash, checks and traditional POS chip-and-swipe interactions, [and also provide] the added benefit of [greater] convenience.”
Keane also nodded to the digital shift, saying, “Consumers with established habits are now trying new eCommerce experiences to obtain goods and services, and [they] may prefer [to] continue these new habits after the pandemic subsides.”
Payments Choice Can Tip the Scales
Among the most visible commercial casualties of the pandemic are gyms, restaurants and even healthcare facilities. The COVID-19 Business Recovery Report looks at different ways that these operations are coping with COVID, from renting their pro gear to setting up online fitness classes, in an effort to cut member churn. Others are even operating as payment hubs.
“Merchants may also find that enabling wider arrays of online payments allows them to cater to customer bases spread across different geographies,” the new report states. Much will depend on the diversity of payments choice these businesses are willing to offer.
“Fitness instructors offering online classes and entertainment businesses trying to sell worldwide need to provide purchasing options suited to the payment norms and preference in each different customer location,” per the report. “U.S. consumers tend to prefer paying for eCommerce with credit cards and Chinese shoppers strongly favor digital wallets, for example, so merchants selling into both markets need to enable transactions with these different payment instruments. The right payment methods can power businesses to make their customer bases more inclusive.”