Swim, not sink: How micro businesses can cope with Covid-19

Companies can no longer expect the same results by sticking to the tried and tested.

The impact of Covid-19 has been particularly severe on small businesses and SMEs everywhere, and Singapore is no exception. As we contemplate the post-Covid world, staying agile and adapting appropriately to the evolving situation will be crucial in helping organisations find their footing, ensure business continuity and perhaps even open up new opportunities.

Here are 4 ways in which SMEs and businesses can navigate the next new normal and emerge resilient:

1. Omnichannel is the new norm: Investing in phygital

The pandemic has driven up adoption of digital channels. In Singapore, the Covid-19 crisis has driven more groups of consumers to embrace e-commerce, traditionally the purview of the young and technologically savvy, with Singapore’s digital economy earning an additional US$500 billion annually1. As digital channels become more saturated, there is a need for SMEs and micro-businesses to invest in “phygital” – where there will not be purely brick-and-mortar shopping or online shopping per se, but an integrated realm where physical and digital channels are connected. This has already been seen in various industries where innovations arose during the “Circuit Breaker” season –virtual reality technologies allow customers to visualise themselves in different outfits, even without putting them on manually – as well as the real estate industry where homebuyers go on virtual 3D walkthrough property tours.

All these point to the need to ditch complacency even if you are not new to the digital journey. Companies need to make it a priority to plug in the gaps on all touchpoints. An early transition to digital and phygital realms will mean you can get ahead of competitors who are slower to respond.

2. Change begins now: Reinvent to thrive

The volatile Covid situation has also hastened the need for businesses to keep their products continuously relevant and in line with customers’ evolving needs. A case in point is how blogshops quickly reinvented their product mix to include comfortable athleisure and lounge wear, to suit the new normal of working from home, working out and dining at home.

Studies have also shown that there has been a seismic shift in consumer attitudes – consumers do not have as much as brand loyalty as before2 and are more willing now to experiment with new brands. The increasingly fluid consumer means that the bar is now “being raised higher for brands to connect and engage with their audiences”. Businesses must now adjust efforts accordingly to engage customers by developing fuss-free processed and strengthening their digital marketing capabilities to reach a new audience.

Whatever the scale of your business, making bold moves and switching gears can help you keep pace with your customers. Do what is best for your industry, be it to invest in R&D, start new product lines or shake things up with a collaboration to create some noise and grow your customer base!

3. Feet on the ground: Staying grounded & authentic

With Covid-19 uprooting much of our lives, remote working has become the norm for most companies and given workers an experience of Work From Home (WFH). A local survey shows that employees now expect working from home and more flexible hours to be part of the new normal3. Given the fluidity of the post-Covid workforce, there is a more pressing need to retain and attract talent with the right strategy. Thus, the importance of actively communicating with your staff to ensure high levels of engagement and understanding cannot be overstated.

The same also goes for brands – listen and learn about your product’s standing in the community, tune in to the social chatter online to learn about consumers’ needs and habits, and alter your products in turn to make them continuously relevant.

Given that consumers are less likely to visit their favourite stores as frequently or check out new stores in person, businesses must find novel ways to reassure them that you are very much on the same page as them. Communicate online to be privy to their changing needs during the pandemic, and maximise the value of each of your customer’s visit.

As each digital interaction becomes more crucial than ever, being authentic and empathetic online will also help you connect better with customers, so choose an appropriate tone of voice and be consistent across all your customer touchpoints.

4. Eye on the future: Being forward-thinking

Forward-thinking innovation will help you deal with the changing dynamics of the post-Covid world and emerge resilient. Beyond fulfilling needs, offering a well-researched product based on user behaviour and habits is likely to bring added value to their lives. For instance, quick-thinking beauty companies promoted natural, dermatologist-approved skincare products to prevent or treat mask wearing-induced maskne (mask acne) during the pandemic outbreak, while some innovative companies also introduced a range of mask-related products, such as mask holders, sanitising spritz, etc.

The future is still in flux. Navigate the post-Covid world by leveraging opportunities to distinguish yourself from competitors, gain the trust of consumers and widen your target audience.


No matter where your business currently is on its digital transformation journey, 2EZ Asia is here to unlock its full potential with our industry-specific expertise. Talk to us if you are keen to explore any of the solutions below:

  • Website design and development
  • Mobile app development
  • Point-of-sales (POS) system development and integration

[1] “E-commerce is set to boom, driven by Covid-19”, Channel NewsAsia, updated 9 Feb 2021:
[2] “8 in 10 in Singapore want to work from home or have more flexibility”, The Straits Times, 12 October 2020, https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/8-in-10-in-singapore-want-to-work-from-home-or-have-more-flexibility
[3] “Consumers less loyal to brands now, survey finds”, The Straits Times, 26 Jun 2019: https://www.straitstimes.com/business/consumers-less-loyal-to-brands-now-survey-finds