Is humanity moving towards a digital economy?

Some of the most renowned specialists in the field of medicine are making comparisons between Covid-19 and the Spanish flu. For others, there are parallels between the current economic situation and the Wall Street Crash of 1929.

Whatever comparisons are drawn, we all know that there will be an "after" and that it will be different from anything humanity has known so far. In our business transactions, whatever the sector, we will have to rethink how people make contact or avoid it altogether. 

We never thought it would be necessary to go so far. Fortunately, there are digital tools out there to support us and help the economy move into a new era, which will be decidedly more digital. How to innovate and find new ways to provide solutions and services that are suited to this new reality, in light of the current transformation of daily life and consumption habits? 

E-commerce comes to the rescue of consumption

Many of our consumption habits came to an end during the lockdown. For many consumers, e-commerce was like a lifeline; an essential tool to continue to live "as before", or a little bit at least. In France, for example, total traffic on retail websites increased by 13% during the first week of the?lockdown. E-commerce was also a lifeline for some businesses, restaurants in particular, at a time when digital interaction is the only possible form of contact, for obvious public health reasons. Some businesses wasted no time in diversifying their traditional activities by turning to home deliveries, through platforms such as Uber Eats and Deliveroo, as well as applications developed by local authorities. Others opted for an alternative system (or a "System D") by taking orders through social networks, offering secure home deliveries, or later directly at the door of the restaurant. Such new habits will continue long after the?lifting of the lockdown.?42% of the Chinese population stated that they will make purchases on e-commerce platforms more often, while only 8% said that they would do so less frequently.? 

Digitisation of our daily lives

Our consumption habits have been totally shaken up, far beyond the ways in which we buy food and clothes, and e-commerce is not enough to meet the various challenges faced alone. Many services have had to reinvent themselves via digital in order to avoid losing their audiences. The ways we study, work and do sport, as well as look after, educate and entertain ourselves, have already started to change and it is very likely that the new habits developed will continue over the coming weeks or even years. 

The field of healthcare, for example, showed an incredible ability to adapt, with the widespread and almost immediate deployment of remote consultations. There were nearly 600,000 digital consultations in March alone. Many psychologists and psychiatrists also turned to digital, offering digital sessions via telephone or video conference. School pupils and students were given the opportunity to follow their classes online and interact with their teachers via webcam. Some of the students who have managed to land an internship abroad are choosing the option of doing it from their home country in lockdown. While it is a shame that the opportunity for immersion in a local culture is lost, they will at least gain some training and experience! All of our daily activities, from cultural outings to weekly sport sessions, are set to evolve.

Museums are creating virtual tours of their exhibitions, such as the Singapore Art Museum and the Louvre, while gyms are reinventing themselves by offering live coaching sessions via Facebook, and the French film distributor MK2 has signed a partnership with Netflix to make it possible to watch classic French films online. We can only hope that there will be many more such examples. If there is one thing to be learned from this situation, it is that only businesses and professionals that are able to rethink the way they do things will survive.

Think beyond your physical brand experience in order to identify new avenues for growth. Take advantage of slowing business in order to think about long-term innovation and the way brands will need to adapt to new consumer behaviours. 

Published in Alliancy