Stores battle online trade to thrive after restrictions
PRESENTING a united front against the devastation of coronavirus was a Sunshine Coast IT company's strategy in surviving restrictions.
King IT stores across the region have implemented a number of new services to combat the virus, with staff morale remaining the most essential priority.
Managing director Patrick King said a loss of foot traffic was the company's main challenge, yet the demand for computer repairs and webcams was growing.
"There's a lot of scared people out there and people really concerned about coming to shopping centres," he said.
"But we're an essential service and with everybody working from home, the need for IT support was particularly strong.
"(Sales) certainly haven't increased, but we definitely have seen a shake up of what we were doing."
Mr King said implementing a drive-through option and contactless delivery service were just two examples of how the business adapted to the change caused by the virus.
"We're a dynamic company anyway so change is quite common for our business and our team are very used to it," he said.
"Particularly being in the tech sector, things can change literally overnight.
"Apple can make a decision and we have to adapt to it instantly, so making change is not something that we're unaccustomed to."
Ensuring staff's mental health was a main priority was important to Mr King.
"The team were seeing a lot of these businesses close around them and so we made use of our peer program and psychologist to make sure that everyone's mental health was good," he said.
"We restructured our bonus and incentives scheme as well to make sure people weren't disadvantaged by the lower traffic numbers.
"Working in a computer shop, a lot of the time people don't consider retail workers as essential workers so they maybe felt a little bit forgotten.
"So we made sure that while there wasn't huge amount of additional government support available for them … we stepped up and looked after people too."
Mr King said retailers would have to focus on their point of difference as a way of encouraging more sales as coronavirus restrictions forced a number of buyers to turn to online shopping for the first time.
"I think one of the biggest challenges the retail industry is going to face is a lot of people have started shopping online who never potentially had to or wanted to," he said.
"But with us for instance, we're ultimately not selling the repair, we're selling the service and the people that they're interacting with.
"Our people are what make us different and if retailers really focus on their team and make sure they're actually engaged with their customers and working to deliver really good outcomes for that, that's something you can't order.
"No website can offer that."