- Strategic thinking and fast adaptation is a way for companies to survive the crisis.
- Building alternative scenarios (from the worst one to the most optimistic one) can be of great help in uncertain times.
- There might be a second strike of the virus in the fall. We better get ready for this.
InPost Group founder and CEO Rafal Brzoska shared his thoughts on how to act in the crisis and what to expect in the future with Mikolaj Kunica, Editor-in-Chief at Business Insider Poland. We have outlined the most important insights from the interview.
The safest model today is online sales.
Those retailers that invested in online distribution channels a few years ago, today have a chance to successfully balance on the verge of survival. Those who did not think in perspective and focused only on the traditional offline channel certainly suffered the most stated Rafal Brzoska, Main Shareholder of InPost Group.
InPost is one of a few companies in Poland that is currently employing new people rather than laying off. The current situation on the parcel market looks a lot like Christmas eve with a 30 percent increase in activities. Online stores, logistics and parcel companies are dealing with the same challenge – a sudden, unexpected, significant growth, which is associated with enormous operational issues.
The only difference is that the pre-Christmas fever lasts about 2 weeks. The “COVID-19 fever” has been holding at the same level for 4 weeks already. This is twice the physical and mental burden for the entire organization.
InPost Group has noticed that not only individuals looking for a job come to the company but also entire enterprises that until now had nothing to do with the courier business. For instance, organizations that used to provide VIP transport services from and to airports propose to deliver parcels for InPost.
‘This is an excellent example of Polish entrepreneurs doing their best to adapt to a changing environment. They do not sit with their arms folded, but remove the seats from luxury Mercedes vans and look for jobs for their people and fleet. I applaud these people,’ said Rafal Brzoska.
Create three alternative scenarios.
At InPost, managers have outlined three alternative scenarios four weeks ago. From the most black one, which seems unbelievable, but still has to be prepared for, through moderate and to the optimistic one.
Nowadays reality changes very quickly. It needs to be monitored and solutions adapted on an ongoing basis. As the spectrum begins to narrow down, which means a decrease in uncertainty, it is easier to make rational decisions.
InPosts’s optimistic scenario predicts that online e-commerce will emerge victorious from this crisis.
There will be a permanent change in behavior. Rafal Brzoska expects there will be several million new consumers who had not used online channels until now. If they have positive experience today after the quarantine is lifted their approach will not change much. They will keep using online shopping services rather than offline.
However, there is a risk of the unemployment rate in Poland to reach 15 percent by the end of the year which will lead to a decrease in the purchasing power.
Look for new opportunities.
As Rafal shared, InPost used to go out stronger after each crisis period. For everyone, for entrepreneurs, but also employees, the crisis can be an opportunity. The crisis creates new businesses, new ideas, and new opportunities. To identify and implement them, you need two things:
- To think “out of the box”.
- To have enough courage to use them in practice.
InPost, for example, has already implemented such initiatives as:
- The delivery service on weekends, which they launched at an express pace and which stormed the market. After a week, 2,5000 online stores use the option of posting parcels on Friday with the option of picking up on Sunday.
- Unlocking municipal offices. Until now, it has not even been possible to register the car in the municipal office due to the quarantine. With InPost Office 24 service (InPost Urząd 24), you can register cars using a specialized parcel locker. The first was already established in Gorzow Wielkopolski.
- Refrigerator Parcel Lockers for the supply of fresh food with guaranteed preserved delivery temperature. Both frozen foods and fresh fruit and vegetables. The main partner is Auchan.
Lukasz Goralczyk, Head of Operational Risk at SIG Air Handling, shares the question on LinkedIn about how to encourage other participants of the Polish market to have such courage, dynamism, and openness in providing business? ‘It is regrettable to see how traditional risk response strategies completely lack ideas both in the short and long terms.’
Pawel Zieba, Business Intelligence Consultant, confirms Lukasz’s assumptions stating that it’s a fact that in Poland there is no courage to approach the problem in a way that can solve it and not deepen it. ‘I believe that entrepreneurs, companies should not hide their heads in the sand and say that everything is bad, but instead to think strategically in the beginning and try to improve the situation, rather than go with the flow.’
COVID-19 might strike a second blow in the fall.
Rafal Brzoska suggests that the country should start getting back to normal about 4-6 weeks from the moment when the incidence curve reaches its maximum.
‘However, there is something that I think is out of sight. This virus, almost certainly, will come back with double strength in the fall. The question is whether businesses and politicians will be ready to re-lock the entire economy,’ InPost CEO possesses the question.
Rafal is sure that the virus will strike again because he thinks the vaccine won’t be ready yet by that time, and after the quarantine and several months of social distancing people will again enter the normal mode of traveling and group interpersonal contacts, which will cause another epidemic explosion. ‘I would be glad to be wrong.’