Finding the New Normal After the COVID-19 Reset

Pressing Pause and Finding the New Normal

Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined spending weeks working from home.  I’ll admit it, I never liked the idea but now after having done it, I’ve changed my tune.  I’ve found that both my team and I have been incredibly focused and surprisingly busier during COVID-19 than any other time.  It’s not just our company that feels more focused, we’ve heard from clients and business partners they’re more focused too.  We are very lucky to be a part of a business environment that is weathering this storm.  

So much has changed over the last several weeks, life as we knew it literally paused.  It’s important to recognize that as we emerge, things will continue to be different.  This month we’re going to focus on four areas we think are going to look a bit different as we move through the Coronavirus crisis: 

Online Payments and the Retail Refocus  

The economic closure has impacted so many of us especially payment processors with a focus on traditional retail.   Acquirers and Independent Sales Organizations (ISO) that focused strictly on traditional retail saw chargeback and fraud ratios lose balance when steady streams of transactions ceased.  Small retailers with no online presence had to quickly move online to meet the needs of shoppers.  The pandemic has many wondering how do we help smaller retailers expand their online presence if we need to continue social distancing and will consumers go back to big retailers and grocery stores to shop?

Personally, I love to browse and try on what I’m buying.  My biggest issue with the online only experience is that it doesn’t benefit people of all sizes.  Being petite, I find it hard to buy things online and have them fit right, but I believe I’m not the norm.  It’s highly likely the whole mall experience could become a thing of the past or at least the social aspect of shopping in groups with family and friends.  The grocery store could see changes too.  Just about everyone has tried some form of online ordering.  And once you’ve tried it like my husband (who over-orders when buying groceries online!) he says he will never go back in the grocery store again.   

This dramatic increase in online retail sales reinforces the need for strong authentication tools.  As we move towards more e-commerce and higher risk transactions, U.S. merchants will need to take advantage of programs like VerifiedbyVisa and 3D secure.   These fraud tools have already been embraced in Europe but have been avoided by U.S. merchants due to the increased friction to the checkout process they cause.  The benefits may now outweigh any challenges.  

Adult Performer Paradox    

COVID-19 has forced production holds and until testing guidelines can be ironed out, it is likely to remain paused.  This could mean months more of waiting as the industry determines the best way to ease restrictions and develop guidelines to safely resume.  Production crews and many others industrywide are facing financial hardships.  Many models have been resourceful and found a way to keep their revenue coming in.  Some that typically worked on production sets are moving to Camming, solo and fan sites to perform.  This has given them more control over their career and their destiny.  

The production hold also has also impacted merchants that rely on production shoots.  While some have a backlog of content to produce, at some point they will catch up and will have to wait for the set restrictions to be lifted for more work.  Also, production shoots are costly, one of our clients shared that shoots can cost around $50,000 each so during this time, producers are saving money and will be ready to invest in new opportunities when restrictions are lifted.   

Keep Your Distance

While telecommunication software and solutions are doing a good job of keeping us connected, I do miss spending time with people.  We’ve traded friendly catch up conversations in the office for complete work focus.  With so few distractions, driving to and from work in traffic and more, our team feels more focused than ever.  Like I said, I didn’t believe in working from home and now it definitely has me rethinking how to re-open the office when we get the green light.  In the future, I could see us moving toward a hybrid office-work from home schedule.

Technology has brought us together in the industry too. In April I had a chance to participate in XBIZ’s 1st Virtual Town Hall Meeting.  It was great to be able to see industry members face to face without the typical travel to get to a trade show to catch up with everyone.  In an average year, I attend at least 12 shows.  It could be some time before I’m back logging miles and attending conferences–at least the in-person kind.

Social Pleasantries 

There are some great positives to come out of the pandemic- have you noticed people seem to be more respectful and polite?  I’ve noticed that COVID-19 forces us to think of others and be more courteous in general.   For example, people in grocery stores tend to be more patient, willing to wait their turn.  I’ve seen a shift of people remembering and reaching out to those in need like seniors with underlying health conditions who have suffered the most during this crisis.  Many of us have made extra phone calls to parents each week and helped neighbors in need.  Once the crisis passes, I hope we don’t’ stop.  For some kids like my oldest son, school from home has removed all the Highschool drama from his life and he’s loving it.  My other son misses the social aspect.  Every kid is handling it differently.  And all of us are getting outside more.  It’s great to see everyone out walking or riding their bikes.  Our once crowded highways are clear.  Isn’t it nice?  We have been better to our Earth.  It’s been a great lesson about protecting what we have.

2020 was named the year of “perfect vision” but I don’t think anyone could see how hard-hitting and widespread this pandemic would become. What is clear is things have changed—and, some of it for the better.  As we develop the new normal, we need to remind ourselves of what we have and how lucky we are.  It’s something I’m doing everyday as we all work to get through this.

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