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Will the corona crisis speed up digital transformation?

One thing is certain in this exceptional time, according to Jeroen Moonen (CEO & Corporate Development), the corona crisis will speed up digital transformation.

As the current corona crisis continues, the hidden vulnerability of brick-and-mortar stores becomes painfully obvious. Part of the economy continues and even flourishes as never before, driven by the rapidly increasing number of people who make their purchases online. Another part is considerably more restricted by the one and a half meter measures and, being unable to organize online alternatives, has come to a standstill. Think of specific stores, the hospitality industry, hairdressers or the art world.

I myself, like all the other Onetrail employees, can work from home as we continue to serve our customers. In addition, it’s clear that our investment in cloud services and a flexible office network has paid out. Working from home has become the standard, also for many others. In the first week of mandatory working from home, we saw the online orders for setting up home offices, that run through our system, increase by triple digits.

What I am wondering about now, is whether we will continue in the old way soon or if this will be the right time to accelerate the digitization of companies.

“There are many with their backs against the wall.”


No online channel means no business
One of the things that this crisis has clearly demonstrated, is the importance of online communication. Of course, there are many entrepreneurs who have their online communications well-managed. But there are many with their backs against the wall as well, for example because their business had to close, and investments have never been made in an online channel. As physical contact with customers is not possible, there is no alternative, and no solution.

Wrong assumptions and cold feet
In many cases, wrong assumptions that there is plenty of time to look into the online channel or cold feet have prevented businesses from working on this subject. They think, for example, that it’s a very expensive or complex matter. This may have been the case in the early years of e-commerce, but there are currently many easy-to-use solutions and tools available for creating online communication with customers. It is as easy as installing a new POS system or getting a telephone subscription. Of course, investments are needed, and technical matters have to be arranged, but that is nothing compared to the damage that companies incur now that they are completely locked down.

Wakeup call
I expect the current situation to be a wakeup call for many companies to start working on the online channel. Not as a single channel,  but as an additional opportunity to reach and serve customers. My advice is to start small, experiment, gain experience and continue from there. You don’t have to be able to do everything exactly right from the start. Compare it to opening a new store or branch, which many entrepreneurs already have experience with. Think of the online channel as a new location. As with a new physical store, a webshop also involves looking for the best interior design and layout at the start. By trying and experimenting you learn what works and what doesn’t. And I’m not talking about technology, but just about which model does and does not appeal to customers.

“I am convinced that the digital train will only go faster for all of us. Make sure you don’t miss this sprint!”


Now get on it
After the start phase you have to start thinking about next steps, because I am convinced that the digital train will only go faster for all of us. For online sharing of information this means you will need to build a solid connection with your suppliers and buyers, with a direct link between your business systems and those of all your partners. This way, the information you share about products and orders is always up-to-date and unambiguous and you avoid misunderstandings or confusion among your customers. This is the only way to reduce dependency on the physical environment, enabling you to increase your resilience in these difficult times, now and in the long run.

One thing is clear to me at this point, corona definitely leads to digital acceleration. Make sure you don’t miss this sprint!

Jeroen Moonen
CEO & Corporate Development

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