Editor’s Letter: Pivoting and the art of redirection
By Naomi Szeben
As I am writing this, most Ontarians are experiencing their fiftieth day in lockdown. All the trade shows that this magazine normally attends have been cancelled or postponed, offering options such as virtual seminars, online webinars and round tables. Going into the quarantine, we believed we’d likely be back to work in a month, maybe two if we successfully “flattened the curve.”
Companies that are showing the strength to survive are the ones investing in their marketing, reaching out to existing clients and making plans for the future once the quarantine is over. Some companies are learning the art of the “pivot.” In business terms, pivoting can mean a corporate makeover, either in terms of their business model or altering product selection.
Some companies have changed their style of vending to serve their customers in the form of a pop-up shop, or have opted to delivering products themselves within safe distancing measures in place. Others have changed their products to reflect demand for hand sanitizers, disinfectant wipes and face masks.
Some operators began reaching out to the front line workers, to see if they could service hospitals, fire stations and break rooms in grocery stores (while still following the guidelines for distance.) As Confucius said: “The green reed which bends in the wind is stronger than the mighty oak which breaks in a storm.”
The companies that can pivot will continue to grow.
“Healthy Vending” used to refer to dietary concerns – and still does. However the recent pandemic recently adds a new concern to the health of operators and their clients. “Healthy vending” can now refer to a safe space that allows for staff and clients to practice social distance measures, or has properly sanitized surfaces. It can refer to how often an interface is disinfected for customers’ safety.
In this issue, you’ll read of a vendor who learned to shift and downsize, and of a company that saw opportunity for creating a route optimization software for DIY deliveries. With the pandemic hitting many markets, staff are adding ‘delivery’ to their roster of new tasks they’ll take on to keep business running.
I am worried how the Canadian economy and those in the convenience industry will fare after the quarantine lifts. Will the proposed emergency funding provide enough relief to allow a company to survive, or will this mean that only the kiosks that used touchless and cashless services will thrive? If the virus returns and we have to quarantine ourselves again, what would the next steps be? Does your company have an emergency plan? What is your recovery plan after that?
I hope that this issue finds you and your families in good health and that the articles within will help your company thrive. As the current COVID-19 slogan goes, “we stand together by standing apart.”