Pushing towards the end of 2020, it is hard to fathom the business and operational changes we have faced and experienced since COVID-19 began last March. Process and supply chain disruptions, office building shutdowns, businesses shuttering, online schooling, and a massive move to working from home are trademarks of how COVID-19 affected many organizations. In the final month of 2020, we are faced with renewed closures and a raging pandemic nationwide that will surely stall any reopening of business plans. Looking to 2021, we will have to consider the long-term ramifications of an extended pandemic to business.
The world of business is now online. Products and services are morphing to meet the needs of the COVID-19 consumer. Whether for business or personal—often when you are working from home, it is blurry at best—an e-commerce presence for vendors is no longer a nicety. It is an absolute necessity. Countless vendors and providers in the office equipment space (and peripherally) have shared with us the hardships of transitioning from a mainly face-to-face, business-to-business mentality to one that offers business to consumers and all online. Previously a vendor’s online presence often consisted of an online showroom, an area where the products are visible while learning their specifications and allowing for product comparisons, vertical features, and general functionality as well as configurations. Also, supplies or service could possibly be ordered via their website. However, the backend components of a true, fully connected e-commerce solution were missing. Vendors that were fully connected on their own platform, a partner, or both have undoubtedly been able to weather the storm compared to others.
Examining product trends this year, such as single function scanners, we see a surge in small, compact, and low-cost devices that are easily acquired online and require little to no IT support. According to Keypoint Intelligence’s most recent Business Scanner Survey, we see that scanning across all business types and sizes is increasingly fueling the desire for content to be digitized and making it available to all users in any location.
Arguably the behemoth of online retailers, Amazon has come through COVID-19 larger and stronger than ever. Consumers and businesses are confident in the platform that Amazon provides as well as other online retailers. For many office solution product providers, direct face-to-face interaction with a salesperson has become impossible (and unnecessary) and will further accelerate transitions in acquisition and buying. We expect that vendors that have a solid and functioning online strategy are navigating the changing landscape to deliver products and services. Providers must adapt and change to remain relevant to the transitioning business, while listening to the collective voices of the customer—voices that are growing louder by the day.