- The long-term continuation of the transformation during lockdown is expected with the change in psychological attitude and behaviour of customers
- Driven by the supply chain challenges amid COVID-19, IoT and Automation lead fleet management and production has garnered greater attention.
- New Zealand’s stand on ensuring safety against the pandemic indicates that the country is expected to witness prolongation of similar practices.
“Come hell or high water” - New Zealand appears to be ready to ride out the storm thrown by the health crisis. The country’s successful accomplishments built on its aggressive, yet strategic route undoubtedly recounts the triumphs and future promises for Kiwiland poised to rebuild the economy.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s ‘little dance’ which she mentioned as an immediate reaction on acknowledging New Zealand as ‘Coronavirus-free’ echoes the optimistic sentiments of the country amidst the pandemic.
Although new infection cases have emerged, possibly due to the return of the overseas New Zealanders as anticipated by the Government and authorities, the country is much better positioned to restart its economy, thanks to the disruptions geared against health threats, cushioning the impact of coronavirus and lockdown restrictions.
Jacinda Ardern in her latest statement maintained a similar stance indicating that until it has “reassurances that New Zealanders will be safe”, the Government would not move ahead to resume trans-Tasman travel.
New Zealand has left the decision for bubble creation “up to Australia”, leaving the latter the option to decide whether or not to open travel with the whole country or individual states. Notably, Victoria recently witnessed a spike in the cases which seems to generate concerns on the second wave of infection in the Australian state.
However, New Zealand, with no plan for opening borders for other countries, would be conducting a virtual APEC summit, hinting the transition towards a new normal created by new-fangled realities and budding conditions.
On that backdrop, let us look at the trends that are emerging and raising bars for competition in the severe economic scenario.
Post the coronavirus outbreak, E-commerce, often known to tout and challenge traditional business models, has massively overcome the psychological inertia of many customers who earlier resisted breaking the chain of their old habits of not adopting the electronic medium of payment and shopping. The need for social distancing and the emerging digital payment methods have opened up greater avenues for online shopping.
The Warehouse Group Limited (NZX: WHS), a leading retail group from New Zealand, has experienced a rise in online sales by 78% in it’s the third quarter ending 26 April 2020 over on the same quarter last year. However, the Group’s overall sale decreased by 17.9%. All its brands, including The Warehouse, Warehouse Stationery, Noel Leeming and Torpedo7 recorded a decline in sales compared to the previous reporting period.
Based on insights concerning new shopping habits of customers and economic impacts of COVID-19, it has incorporated an Agile operating model, towards which it is expected to shift from 31 August 2020.
Restaurant and Food Industry Innovation
The conscious dining movement has reformed the entire industry with both the diners and foodservice providers eyeing hygiene and safety standards in the current critical time. Meanwhile, the food delivery system has also picked up the momentum because of maintaining social distancing. New players have emerged from diverse industries who are venturing into food delivery business to capitalize on the changing trend.
Good Spirits Hospitality Limited (NZX: GSH) re-opened its majority of operations for dining in line with Governemnt of New Zealand and Ministry of Health guidelines.
Restaurant Brands New Zealand Limited (NZX: RBD) which operates food brands like KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Carl’s Jr., etc. in New Zealand saw the closures of the dine-in business along with several in-line and mall stores during the lockdown. The company during the health crisis is ensuring delivery and drive-through services to serve the customers.
Healthcare sector remained under the radar incorporating changes for confronting the pandemic for wading possible threats of crisis. Telehealth and virtual consultations have evolved primarily as people during the lockdown and even after it shied away from venturing outside.
The consumers driven by the health concerns were found to prefer health-related or immunity-boosting products. Meanwhile, the massive concern for the frontline health workers who remain primarily exposed to the infection has driven the vast revolution involving real-time monitoring and use of robotics.
The biotechnology company, Blis Technologies Limited (NZX: BLT) has continued to build the BLIS® Probiotics brand. It has increased its production capacity for meeting COVID-19 driven demand. The company indicated that consumer interest in solutions to maintain health and wellbeing is providing a robust opportunity for Blis Technologies.
Transformational Working Style
COVID-19 crisis and digital adoption have brought forth new dawn in the way people work. The growth in the remote working trends catalysed by digital solutions seems to accelerate the use of cloud technology. The virtual meetings and the technologically aided management of projects can be a potential eye-opener for the companies aiming for a flexible working environment.
Automation and robotic technologies have driven massive integration in the manufacturing and processing companies. Scott Technology Limited (NZX: SCT) provides automation and robotic solution for improving productivity, safety and reliability across various industries. The company expect that the long-term demand for smart automation and robotic solutions would remain strong owing to businesses looking to reduce labour cost while ensuring safety and efficiency.
Supply Chain Moderation
The distribution models have undergone a massive change. The supply chain and logistics management have changed significantly since retailers evolved from using brick-and-mortar models to being multi-channel to being adopting an Omni-channel presence. Meanwhile, application of Artificial Intelligence in sourcing, logistics and warehousing facilities is also trending to align the supply with the moderating demands of the customers to provide a seamless smooth customer experience.
Notably, use of predictive analytics for identifying the demand trends and applying Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology for transparency on product availability and sourcing is emerging as a necessity in times of cost-conservative sentiments.
Wellington Drive Technologies Limited (NZX: WDT), a leading provider of Internet of Things (IoT) solutions and cloud-based fleet management platforms to the retail food and beverage industry, is targeting the launch of new IoT products during 2020.
At this juncture, unyielding parade by automation in the face of lingering infection threat dominates the modern panorama of New Zealand where businesses are adapting to life. This “two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months” as cited by Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella continues to challenge the status quo of many businesses while it brings hopes for the economic revival.