One of the ways to face the COVID-19 pandemic is to learn from the nations that were hit first, like China. Based on the experiences of Chinese companies, the Harvard Business Review identified practices that may become a reference for leaders in other countries, without neglecting the peculiarities of each market.
1. Regularly Adjust Plans and Mental Models
In the beginning of the pandemic, Master Kong, a company in the food and beverage industry, began to review strategies and reorganize priorities daily. This way, the company could predict if there would be an excess or lack of products in stock. The company focused its supply on e-commerce and small stores, and in parallel, monitored when larger, physical chain stores planned to open, so that they could be ready to provide services to them when they were up and running again.
2. Quickly Reorganize your Sales Channels
The cosmetics company Lin Quingxuan had to shut down 40% of its physical stores in China during the pandemic. But it reacted quickly and efficiently: employees that worked in the physical stores began working as influencers and digital beauty consultants, using channels like WeChat, and engaging consumers and stimulating online sales. The result of this initiative was a 200% increase in sales when compared to 2019.
3. Seek Opportunities amidst Adversity
The new coronavirus pandemic helped increase the demand for certain services and products. Some Chinese companies moved quickly to meet those needs, such as the video platform Kuaishou. The company partnered up with the Ministry of Education, implementing online classrooms in the cloud, to compensate for the lack of classroom learning in schools and universities.
4. Empower your Team
Huazhu operates 6,000 hotels in 400 Chinese cities. During the crisis, the company created a task force that meets daily to review procedures and to broadcast guidelines to the entire chain. In parallel, the company fine-tuned its internal communications platform with updated and crucial information so that employees and franchisees could work autonomously and tweak the instructions coming from national leaders to the local realities.