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Pandemic Playbook from Amber Engine: Business Future Post Pandemic

Furniture World News Desk on 6/16/2020

As the days and weeks wear long on our patience and pocketbooks, it’s worth a look around to see what your company needs to put in place to accommodate business once we’re past the pandemic.

Some speculate that we will never be “back to normal” because coronavirus and the subsequent quarantine has shaped our daily lives so much that it will be impossible to do “business as usual” again. That may be true, not only from an operational perspective but also, crisis planning and digital assets will change.  

Adopting Digital During COVID-19 Quarantine

In an article for Furniture Today, Associate Editor, Anne Wear, covers the research of a company called V12. They use a tracking system to see where people are spending their time online during quarantine.

Wear reports, “The company compiled the statistics during March using its in-market shopping technology, which showed a 242% increase in browsing online for desks, a 260% increase in browsing for outdoor furniture and a 205% increase in browsing for home décor.”

Undoubtedly, now is the time to get your products and services listed online. Whether you use a platform like Wix or Wordpress, or you choose to list your products on online marketplaces like Wayfair and Amazon, it’s time to seize the day. Get those products online where people can find them using detailed product descriptions and clear imagery. After all, it’s not just homeowners who are left to browse items from the furniture supply chain online. Furniture makers need raw materials, furniture retailers need stock, and homeowners need a refresh.

Moving your product inventory online serves furniture suppliers now as more of our industry takes the digital leap. But it also provides an added layer of protection for our uncertain future. Creating an online product catalog protects your business against a resurgence of coronavirus and/or another sweeping health threat that sends everyone home. Again.

Operational Changes to Emerge Strong After Quarantine

The Future of Commerce reports that the best way to move back into our traditional working environments is to understand the spread of infection and “approach this and future health concerns as healthcare providers: identify the virus, isolate the risk and inform the public [employees/partners/stakeholders].”

  1. IDENTIFY – You, your partners and employees understand the severity of the pandemic. They also understand that a few key behaviors, when employed regularly, reduce the spread of disease. Encourage hand washing, distancing, staying home when you’re not well, and so on.

  2. ISOLATE – It’s important to consider how you will mitigate risk when we return to the office. It’s not as if the virus will “poof!” just disappear. This is the time to take advantage of online meetings, emails and phone calls in lieu of face-to-face conversations and “just dropping by.”

  3. INFORM – Alert your team and outside partners that you’re putting measures in place to protect the health of your organization until coronavirus is no longer of concern. Let them know that, instead of a handshake, they will be greeted with an elbow bump or air five. This reduces awkwardness as people adapt to and maintain a “new normal.” 

Questions for Growth

Now that the country is beginning to open again, it may be tempting to rush past talk of pandemic and put it all behind us. Understandably so. To think of difficulties and challenges is uncomfortable. But the best businesses will take careful stock of the way they handled (or failed to handle) the Covid-19 crisis.

  1. Evaluate the start of the crisis. Is there anything your company could have handled differently?

  2. Evaluate your handling of the crisis. How would you change your response to navigate the crisis more effectively?

  3. How do you need to adapt and edit your Crisis Management Plan in response to what you’ve learned?

Present Day Plans for Future Protection

With the answers to the questions surrounding your company’s handling of the pandemic in mind, it’s time to create or revise your company’s Crisis Handbook.

To begin, outline clear communication and rules of engagement between your marketing/PR, legal and operations departments. These three key pieces of your business must work in tandem to help your company mitigate damage. Representatives from each of these core areas will also prove valuable in brainstorming your company’s crisis plan.  

The consideration of your key departments may shed light on the stability of your staffing. If you find yourself uneasy or uncomfortable with the employees whose names are at the table – or if you find yourself without council at all – it may be time to actively seek replacements or fill empty spots.

  1. Take Inventory  

    In addition to Covid-19, identify other disruptions that may derail your company’s production capabilities. Be sure to account for:

    • Tragic accidents – such as structural failures or on-the-job accidents

    • Weather-related incidents – like tornadoes and hurricanes

    • Digital attacks – this could be a detrimental security breach or a social media attack gone viral

    • Legal issues – lawsuits, crime and other scandals.

  2. Assign Roles/Responsibilities

    With your resulting list, outline how your company should handle the resulting crisis, including physical safety measures that should go into place in each type of event and the persons responsible for implementing them.

    Identify other key team members and clearly define their roles in response and list their responsibilities for easy reference. For added security, take the time to train these employees on the intended actions. A time of crisis and public response should not be the first time the employee learns of his/her role.

  3. Communicate

    Build written correspondence or plan a facility-wide call to let your team(s) know about your plans. This helps build trust and reduce panic as workers understand that they are protected and cared for by your leadership teams.

    Draft a statement to clients, suppliers and other stakeholders that your facility is committed to advanced planning, including a recap of your learnings from your Covid-19 response and the resulting changes or action steps you’ll use in the future. By providing a level of transparency and showing your willingness to learn, grow and adapt, you’ll build confidence in your business.

As you continue to develop plans for the future of your company, consider a bit of extracurricular reading. “Antifragile – Things That Gain from Disorder” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb helps companies rise stronger. “The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile get better and better.”

About Amber Engine: Amber Engine’s innovative software solutions simplify work and empower people. The company offers full-service e-commerce solutions for furniture brands looking to sell in online marketplaces such as Wayfair, Amazon, Houzz, and many more. For more information contact info@amberengine.com or visit the company's website.

Pandemic Playbook from Amber Engine

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