The coronavirus pandemic has forced a great deal of physical business online, but will this trend continue after the crisis is over?

At the start of 2020, nobody could have imagined the extent of which the coming pandemic would disrupt every aspect of their lives. For telcos, their inherent conservatism when building out their networks has, for the most part, seen them fare well in the face of the increased digital pressure of entire countries working from home.
But what about their commercial business? With all transactions now having to take place online, some are suggesting that COVID-19 has ushered in a digital revolution for e-commerce. But are the changes telcos are seeing here to stay?
Total Telecom’s latest webinar in partnership with Binkies 3D explores just such a topic, bringing together a group of expert speakers from different countries and backgrounds to share their experiences, exploring how they had to rapidly evolve their strategy to the realities of the pandemic. 
“At the start of this situation, we had to scramble for information, operating reactively rather than proactively to the societal changes,” said Rovin Vazirani, business product manager at T-Mobile USA. “But in the long term, there has definitely been a change in the mindset in our company. The prioritisation of digital has definitely improved – not only to help serve our customers directly, but also to help our employees serve the customers.”
This rapid transitioning towards reliance on digital channels has been vastly effective for the operators, with all of the speakers’ representing these companies reporting increased digital sales.
“We’ve seen a big influx of online sales and we don’t expect to see this changing any time soon,” said Colin Li, product owner go to market & eCommerce at TELUS Digital. "This has become the new normal."
But the question is, will this major shift to digital last once retain stores begin to open again?  Leonie Tichelaar, product owner e-Commerce at VodafoneZiggo, noted the importance of onboarding customers to digital channels during this period, which may go some way to retaining them as digital customers in future.  
“We had to ask: how can we serve the community?” she said. “We held training sessions for the elderly in how to stay in touch with family using their smartphone. We also created an app called DreamLab that helps harness the users’ mobile phone’s computing power to help contribute to COVID-19 research. Our focus was not only on getting customers the information they need when they need it, but also about getting people to engage with our digital channels and helping give back to the community.”
The real solution, says Gabriele Romagnoli, international business developer at Binkies 3D, is to change the conversation away from the binary ‘online’ versus ‘physical’ and consider an omnichannel future. By using the latest technologies like Binkies’ 3D solutions, customers can enjoy a much more interactive shopping experience online which can then fit seamlessly into their in-store experience. 
“Often we consider just the online channel or the physical channel,” explained Romangnoli. “I think what we’re going to see is more of a blending of the two. What do you do when the stores reopen but nobody is allowed to physically touch the device on sale? It’s going to deeply affect the customer experience.”
This fascinating webinar can be viewed in full for free. Please follow this link to watch now.
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