Like many companies, COVID-19 changed our business. Beyond the obvious and immediate changes – shifting the majority of our staff to a work-from-home model and implementing new health and safety practices for the staff that needed to remain on-site – we also shifted our 2020 plans and priorities. The ability to adapt and quickly pivot became critical.
Wildly reliable through good times and bad
One of the ways that we achieve our “wildly reliable” mission is through open communication and the relationships we build with our customers and vendors. We leaned on that foundation as the reality of the pandemic set in; our instinct was to reach out to customers to check-in and see how they were doing. During these conversations, we swapped stories about homeschooling our kids, we listened to fears about vulnerable family members and we empathized with the lack of certainty about the future.
Oftentimes, the conversations would turn to their business’s challenges and needs. In some cases, the needs described were easily solved by a product we already offered and we could share that solution.
Occasionally, customers would mention a challenge that we didn’t have an immediate solution for, like face shields or OSHA compliant floor graphics.
Learning from our customers
In order to get a more clear picture of the demand for these products within our own customer base, we decided to conduct a survey. (Disclaimer: This survey was a small sample size and wasn’t designed to answer questions about any industry. We conducted it to learn more about our own customers.) We began collecting data in mid-May, when many states had stay-at-home orders in place. Much has changed since then, but many things have not. The results are interesting and worth sharing.
The majority of responses came from businesses like print shops, distributors and manufacturers, which were deemed essential and remained open during shutdowns.
As a result, these responses primarily came from companies that remained open and on-site. “Have not closed” was the most common phrase in response to the open-ended question: “What steps are you taking to reopen (or reconfigure) your business to ensure safety?” In the word cloud below, you’ll notice other top mentioned tactics included social distancing measures, face masks and more frequent cleaning.
Our open-ended questions yielded responses that showed varying perspectives on this pandemic, which was no surprise. It suffices to say that attempting to strike a balance between economic impact and employee/customer safety was top of mind for most businesses.
In demand products
As we mentioned earlier, one of the main purposes of this survey was to gain some insight into the demand for products that we were most often hearing about in our anecdotal conversations with customers. Below are the responses to the question: “Does your company need any of the following to reopen?”
From survey to action
These responses confirmed that we should do some research and approach our partners about face shields and floor graphics. (Our expertise with plastic paper and labels aligns us more with those products than you might initially think!) We were able to get them manufactured and now offer face shields and non-slip floor decals on our store.
We also took the insight gained from this survey and created a COVID Response Catalog, which contains all of our safety solutions (and ideas for how to use them). Do you have any other suggestions for products or services we should offer? Let us know and flip through our COVID Response Catalog.