How Covid19 could be a driver of technological adoption in Cyprus.

The virus could be spreading technological adoption across the Mediterranean island

It has been 21 days since the virus landed in Cyprus. Since that day change has been fast paced. 14 days after the virus was first identified in the country the President, Mr Nikos Anastasiades, announced that the country is to go on a 3 week lockdown. Citizens are only to go out for vital tasks and only after sending a text message to report their outing and reason for venturing out the house.

The virus’ arrival on the island sent shockwaves through society.The virus has had a huge impact on the average person’s life. As everyday life has been so significantly impacted by the virus so have people’s purchasing habits.

Companies are also feeling the pressure caused by the lock down as non-essential businesses remain closed to the public.

There have, however, been some positive effects created by the shockwaves as the lock down, has been an urgent wake up call to businesses and consumers alike to embrace technology, undergo long delayed modernisations and be quick to react to changing market conditions.

The push to technological adoption:

Online supermarkets & retailers:

As more and more people avoid going out there has been a huge increase in demand for services once shun by Cypriot consumers. Online supermarkets were never popular in Cyprus. Being a small island, supermarkets are close by, and many people in Cyprus drive, so going to the supermarket is a relatively hassle free affair. This created a situation where there was no pressure on people to try out new technologies, as there was no real need to.

Even tech friendly millennials opted out of getting their groceries online partly due to the convenience of visiting the store in person, and partly due to the clanky online supermarkets’ webpages. In addition Cyprus has low rates of technological adoption (Cyprus is ranked 5th from the bottom over Greece, Bulgaria, Romania and FYROM inOnline banking penetration*) and many people are still not familiarised with shopping and paying for productes online.

However, only a few days after COVID19 arrived on the island, websites such as thecheapbasket.com.cy and supermarketcy.com have seen a huge surge in people signing up to get their home groceries delivered. The websites now have signs warning customers that there are long waits for deliveries.

Fear and the ongoing pandemic has now forced more people to get accustomed to the concept of online grocery shopping. For Cypriot online grocery platforms the virus has had one pleasant side effect, in that it forced consumers to familiarise themselves with shopping online. Getting users to get accustomed to a new technology/process is a big barrier to user acquisition and in this sense the virus nudged consumers to take the time to acquaint themselves with the concept of shopping for groceries online.

This forced onboarding, not only provides these platforms with an opportunity for short-term sales, but more importantly, to gain long-term clients. Many users will find the convenience of the service appealing and could incorporate it into their monthly shopping routines even after the pandemic has blown over**.

No doubt big supermarket chains are now discussing fast-tracking that dusty old plan to build an online platform, they had been ignoring.

However it’s not only the online supermarkets who are seeing an increase in demand for home deliveries. Pet supply stores, DIY stores and exercise and gym retailers who had invested in online platforms are now warning of delays in deliveries due to incereased demand.

Possible implications for banks in Cyprus:

Banks in Cyprus have been trying to keep up with the wave of digital banks sweeping up millennial users across Europe. Traditional banks in Cyprus are trying to protect themselves and hold on to their younger user base by rolling out updated online banking apps and trying to reduce costs by digitising processes to reduce foot walk numbers on their tellers. However trying to break customers’ existing habits is a difficult task.

The outbreak of the corona virus and subsequent imposed quarantine could be the nudge banks were waiting for as customers may be forced to accustom themselves with the faster, more efficient online banking, online payments and cheque deposits through the ATMs. As people increasingly try to avoid contact with one another remote payments is one means of technology that could become normalised. Once a customer adopts technology they are less likely to return to their old banking habits.

*Online banking penetration was used as a more indicative statistic rather than the general internet in households %age as many users may have access to services such as Facebook but don’t purchase things online.

** However these platforms have to take the opportunity to modernise their platforms and make them user friendly if they want to keep their customers long-term.

Warning signs on the frontpages of online supermarkets warning users of long waiting lists for home deliveries.

Companies are adapting faster than ever:

Supermarkets which didn’t have an online platform were lightning fast in adapting to the situation. Spar offered a free delivery service and took phone and email orders as did AlphaMega, although the latter didn’t manage to organise the shipping and customers had to pay for a cab.

Frozen food store FOODSAVER quickly listed a selection of their products on popular delivery platform Foody.com.cy in face of the adverse conditions. Even companies such as ALION which was known for providing packaged salad leaves and vegetables to supermarkets created a listing on the Foody platform and now delivers fresh produce straight to consumers.

Furthermore companies ranging from local bakeries to delis, confectionery and stores selling dried fruits and nuts are not only offering delivery services but are now aggressively marketing on Instagram. The virus forced a wave of technological momentum among all types of retail businesses. Small craft beer shops now offer their customers free delivery and have had to start accepting digital payments so as to ensure contactless delivery, local produce shops now took telephone and email orders and a huge amount of small traditional businesses now have digital ad campaigns and people responding to social media enquiries.

Food delivery companies are also, now, catching a lucky break. Not only does the quarantine mean a surge of users but it has also pushed traditional retailers to seek out their platforms in order to provide customers with a way of ordering food online. The speed of change in these industries is noticeable and impressive.

Existing online food delivery companies trying to compete with Foody have also caught a lucky break. Platforms such as DeliveryMan now have the opportunity to acquire new customers, not only due to the increase in demand for delivery services, but also by adding differentiated stores to it’s list of merchants. The race to add as many services on their platforms has been turbo charged with both platforms adding frozen food supermarkets and Deliveryman working with craft beer specialists “Brewfellas”.

But it’s not only the existing apps and delivery companies which are finding opportunity in the crisis. Newcomers Wolt should also be benefiting from the Covid19 lockdown. The app is an equivalent service to Deliveroo and is using a similar referral marketing scheme to quickly grow its audience. No doubt the timing of the quarantine has helped the app push up its sign up numbers.

The adverse living conditions created by the virus has created opportunities and new delivery services are now being created offering contactless shopping for customers stuck in quarantine.

A service called Corona Busters is offering contactless payment via Revolut and fully contactless delivery of customers’ shopping list to their homes. The fact that businesses are now using existing wide-spread technologies such as Revolut digital banking to accept remote payments is indicative of a new generation of companies which are faster, more adaptive and able to bootstrap businesses using existing technologies.

Established companies such as GAP Vasilopoulos are also launching a new service delivery service called Fetch and adverts on Instagram have been targeting people looking to make money by delivering items for them (See images below).

Even rigid, old-school companies are now being forced to familiarise themselves with applications and software that allows their teams to work remotely as more staff is forced to work from home. The benefits of having a flexible and tech-savvy workforce and business culture are now clearer than ever, and companies are fast-tracking modernisation. Cultural shifts, and changes to rigid corporate culture, which could have taken years to occur, are now happening at lightning speed. Universities and schools have been quickly transitioning to remote learning and even the lethargic government public sectors are likely to make a, much needed, leap forward by providing more services online.

The future after the pandemic has passed is still unclear, as is the effect it will have on people’s daily lives and the global economy. What we can be fairly certain of however, is that the pandemic will have long term effects on the way people interact with companies, both as customers and employees.

GuerrillaGorilla.CO is a creative agency & consultancy which helps companies better understand the internet and cut through the noise to target their audience.

Sources:

Some of the hundreds of ads popping up in the last few weeks:

Studying the internet/ Analysing markets/ Guerrilla marketing in a digital age/ Consulting companies https://guerrillagorilla.co

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