How COVID-19 has Funneled Goods Through a Handful of Services

In 2020, the COVID-19 global pandemic threw global economies for a massive loop that has changed everything we knew about how to operate a successful business. Initially, many businesses believed that in just a few short weeks following shutdowns to “lower the curve,” everything would be back to normal. Meanwhile, many companies also began to prepare to shift their services online if possible, predicting that the lockdowns would last longer than the forecasted recovery time. 

While stay-at-home orders were lifted and reenacted, many businesses failed to keep up with the rapidly changing business environment. According to the Economic Impact Report published by Yelp, over 60% of businesses who closed for the pandemic will remain closed permanently. There are several reasons why some businesses succeed and others didn’t, but one of the biggest factors in the quest to survive COVID was being able to continue to serve customers while maintaining social distancing and complying with mask mandates.

Stores needed to rapidly protect customers and staff to keep business flowing. Even with 6-foot social distancing stickers and plexiglass dividers, during the height of the pandemic most customers decided it was best to take their business online. 

In-store purchases became bulk supply runs for many as a more self-reliant (and bored) nation found ways to continue to live life as normally as possible while following stay-at-home orders. Trips to the grocery store became less frequent and items that were not food-related and not deemed essential were purchased online. This alone was enough to finish off many businesses that didn’t have an infrastructure that allowed for a quick transition to selling their goods and services online. 

What this shift did do, however, is cause massive gains for the companies who already make the majority of their income selling goods and services online, especially if they served the needs of the consumers in a way that allowed the feel of some normalcy (i.e. Amazon). In addition to this, food-delivery services saw exponential growth during the year. 

Most restaurants that were tailored to a dine-in experience had to adapt, while food options like pizza and fast food were already moving towards mostly delivery, making the transition easier. This was just in time as Uber, Lyft, and other ride-sharing platforms were losing business due to the need to reduce social interaction during the pandemic. This did prove to be an extremely effective move as more restaurant brands still needed to serve customers who would not be able to visit their locations. The difference now is that as we saw restaurants reopening again in the last quarter of 2020, interest in delivery and takeout options are still 305 times more popular than pre-COVID. 

As for non-restaurant industries, Amazon Prime reported that it had 150 million people with memberships last year, and almost 36% of the retail market share along with Walmart and eBay. However, 43% of consumers also found other US online marketplaces to do business, suggesting that adaptability and outside-of-the-box thinking have been enough for even smaller businesses to continue to recover and thrive under the strain of the COVID pandemic. 


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