It has been over a year since the global pandemic was declared, so it is just about time to draw some conclusions on how the virus is affecting the DRTV industry and impacting business decisions, and to understand the opportunities in the upcoming years.
Will it be back to business as usual soon?
How has this pandemic affected business?
How have businesses adapted?
How has the pandemic shaped the future of customer behaviour?
How do we conduct successful D2C commerce in this new environment?
Our new online event, the ERA GLOBAL Digital Week, brought all these questions into the spotlight for review and discussion by industry specialists.
The ERA Global Digital Week ran from 19th to 23rd April. Each day a specialist from a different global region shared his/her experiences and expectations, presenting a short keynote for our online event. On the 23rd April, these highly experienced specialists came together from all over world at the closing panel session of the ERA GLOBAL Digital Week, live streamed on the association’s website. The event was moderated by Ken Daly, ERA GLOBAL Chairman, with special guests Mateja Lustek (Studio Moderna, Europe), Ed Hall, (Expert Media Partners), Rob Fallon (Bluewater, US) and Erik Golani, Garry Shah and Vik Laungani ((TV Products, Hong Kong). Ed Hall had been joined by Isi Abebe and Ekene Achikeh (ShopEx TV) for his keynote presentation.
The international attendance offered the viewers a balanced overview of the state of our industry.
The recordings of all presentations and the panel discussion are available on our website.
“COVID speeded up the digital transformation“
With a constantly dropping footfall in the shops all over world (up to 40% in England!), retailers are constantly re-shaping their business structure and decision making. Although, the restrictions are slowly being lifted in Europe, our specialists are noticing that customers are being very cautious when it comes to returning to the stores. This means that the temporary measures put in place by retailers a year ago are now actually long-term solutions.
“We had started with the strategy of becoming digital before the pandemic. COVID-19 speeded up the transformation and made us more courageous. Before we had been more hesitant. But the consumers redirected themselves to online and DRTV. This year we will evaluate our stores, classify and define which will be left as a pick-up store and which are not significant. We are planning a new virtual store concept, which will enable a better experience for our customers, with emphasis on experience “, explained Mateja Lustek, COO Studio Moderna.
For the leading omnichannel, multi-brand and direct-to-consumer retailer of Central & Eastern Europe, the pandemic was a time for improvising and testing business strategies otherwise too risky to take in such a short time. With only 25% of their employees coming into the offices all over Europe and the rest working from home throughout the year (a working structure which will be maintained), Studio Moderna has tested and implemented the live demonstrations of products and the pick-up and drive-in store concept. The downside of this last year? Not being able to travel to Asia to meet with partners and take part at the industry fairs, resulting in a slowdown in the development of original products.
Accelerated development of new products and ideas
To understand how the pandemic has been experienced from a supplier’s perspective, we turned to Erik Golani, co-founder of TV Products HK (TVP), an established global all-in-one OEM, sales and distribution company, headed in Hong Kong. Erik Golani has seen the pandemic as a cost and time saver and a productivity enhancer, due to the lack of travelling. He highlights that “the time we have saved has been used wisely on developing many new products. I see time and costs as two major advantages.”
“Even with the work from home, our partners have managed to supply goods to the retailers and come up with categories like fitness, cooking, gardening”, added Vik Laungani, who heads TVP’s International Sales. “All our team members were able to travel within China without restrictions or quarantine, which helped our business to get new factories. Now life in China is as normal as it used to be”, explained Garry Shah, Head of Development TVP.
Currently the company is experiencing business as usual, with 100% of their employees back in the office. Of course, much of the work is being done online now, such as regular calls and online meetings with their international clients.
Social media, part of the logistic process, more than an add-on
Starting and developing a successful business in a new market is a real challenge at the best of times, not to mention during a global pandemic. Ed Hall, Managing Partner Expert Media Partners, one of the UK's most experienced television entrepreneurs and advisers who has been working in broadcasting since 1991, tells us how they did it.
2 months before the pandemic in 2020, Ed was involved in the start-up of a multi-channel retail company in West Africa. Shopex TV uses television to sell innovative products for everyday use in Nigeria. It’s been a tough journey, from building up a cloud-based business in a couple of days because of the pandemic, to coping with the challenges of home office in a region with low access to electricity. “We have gone from having to do things manually when it comes to delivery, to having people be able to order through our website, our call center, through WhatsApp”, described Ekene Achikeh, GM Shopex TV, highlighting some of the challenges they faced.
“You really have to adapt to the system and get used to how things work. It’s just a different terrain. The way the people purchase is different, the technology is quite different. We had to customise the technology in a way that works for the Nigerian market”, stated Isi Abebe, CEO Shopex TV.
The company is a couple of months away from delivering an original show, developed and adapted to the Nigerian market.
“Building trust in a new market is challenging. A very large proportion of the clients will require a WhatsApp or Instagram conversation, a phone call, sending a clip … these clients are suspicious about being scammed; they need a relationship with the operator. Therefore, Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp are not additional media, but are integrated in the logistic process. This means being in touch with the customer for the entire journey, from order to delivery “, added Ed Hall, explaining the power of the new multimedia strategy.
This brings up the theory of stacking, described in detail by Rob Fallon, CEO Bluewater TV, on the 4th webinar of the ERA GLOBAL Digital Week.
How can we tell the products that will catch the public’s eye?
It’s not a surprise that the pandemic has increased the interest shown in home and health related products. “We’ve noticed an increase in the creative demands for fitness and cleaning products. There’s definitely a decrease in things like beauty, as people are not leaving their home (an overall decrease of 40%)“, stated Rob Fallon, CEO of Bluewater, a truly converged US agency, bringing all aspects of research, creative, production, digital commerce, and offline and online media together under one roof.
The panel discussion ended after an hour, the final conclusion being that the business environment faces constant change and must keep on adapting to the worldwide developments.
Our association is thrilled to have been the backdrop for such an insightful debate and that we are working to keep the industry spirit alive. See you at our next event!