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Generating Business Demand in COVID-19 Times

The APIS Framework Addresses Demand Challenges

By Arunabh Sinha

Generating Business Demand in COVID-19 Times

Demand is the most fundamental premise on which any business is built. Whenever you embark on your entrepreneurship journey, the first advice always is to check whether there is an existing demand for the concept in the market. Once the case for demand is established, the decision to pursue the idea becomes relatively easier. Therefore, demand is king!

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 situation has hit businesses in a way none of us could have fathomed. Expectedly, demand is the worst hit and businesses are struggling either because the demand has completely dried up or has been significantly dented. Many SMBs are at a loss of ideas on how to revive demand. While no magic wand exists, there is a meticulously designed approach we have taken at UClean to figure out the biggest demand bottlenecks and act on it accordingly. We call it the APIS (Acceptance, Problem, Identification, and Solution) framework. It particularly works for hyper-local businesses but could be extended across other sectors with minor tweaks.

Acceptance: As business operators, we need to accept the following

  • Fear of Reality (COVID-19) > Reality (COVID-19). People are mortally afraid of COVID although the actual mortality rate is lesser than several other diseases
  • COVID-19 is here to stay. It is not going away anytime soon
  • COVID-19 is a ‘multi-layered problem’. It will need a ‘multi-layered solution’

Problem: What do I mean by a multi-layered problem? There is no single stand-out factor which could be impacting the demand for all businesses of a given nature. The factor could change from country to country or from one hyper-local market to another. Each micro-market would need an independent solution.

Identification: Identify the single biggest disruptor which is impacting the demand in your business:

  • Is it Footfall/Traffic? (D1)
  • Is it Conversion? (D2)
  • Is it Ticket Size? (D3)

Solution:

  • Case D1: If the footfall has fallen by say 50%, the same customer is now 100% more valuable. Are you doing anything extra to make her feel that she is 100% more valuable? And “Valuable” would not necessarily mean deep discounting. These could be smartly designed offers where the customer gets incentives basis referrals and helps you add new customers (much needed!) and gets gratified in return. We have tested this out with multiple UClean outlets, and the results have been promising
  • Case D2: If the traffic is still not a concern and is similar to pre-COVID days, then the conversion is a challenge. One key reason for this could be the fear of transmission associated with COVID-19. Take the example of the brilliant social media and TV campaigns run by ‘The Urban Company’ to win the confidence of their customers and convince them to order a home-salon service as an example. Going by their official statements, the salon-at-home service performed much better during COVID-19 than before it
  • Case D3: If Ticket Size is the problem, you will need to think of innovative ways to bulk up the ticket size. Selling packages or ‘bundled deals’ could be a way out of this. One clever example is the campaign undertaken by multiple milk delivery-focused startups across India where they threw in free butter/ghee packs for those who subscribed to quarterly or 6-monthly packages

For us, the biggest eye-opener is the fact that different UClean outlets have a different “D” and have hence responded positively to a different solution. After all, no one shoe fits all.

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