Thorsten Wieczorek is the CEO of TC-Innovations, a Shopware partner agency that specialises in retail merchandising and design. We spoke with him about the impact of the coronavirus crisis on retail and asked what goes through his mind as an entrepreneur in the current situation.
Thorsten, what is the current situation many shop operators are facing?
Over the last few weeks, retailers had to focus their resources on ensuring survival and finding their way around the new situation as quickly as possible. Now I think they need to ask themselves how their companies and online shops can move forward and prosper in the future. It is time to look ahead and make the best of the situation.
What does it mean for you to make the best out of the situation?
In situations like this, I like to look to the past for some guidance. That's where we see that in times of great change, businesses that were able to quickly react to new circumstances and assess future opportunities were always the best positioned for survival. I firmly blieve this is also true in this crisis.
Suppose I was a retailer - from your experience, could you recommend any plan of action for me to follow?
For anyone struggling to cope with the new circumstances, I would recommend they follow the four following steps:
Step 1: Assess your future
Here you need to set yourself up with the right questions - don't underestimate the importance of doing so. This is because our brain is hardwired to save energy and therefore doesn't naturally like to think outside the box. These questions could be, for example:
- How quickly do you think "normality" will return?
- What will our world look like after the crisis?
- What kind of needs and demands will people have?
- Also important: What will remain unchanged?
If you think that not much will change at all, this can also prove to be a valuable assessment. For example, if you come to the conclusion "People will work much more at home office in the future", the question here is only a matter of what will happen.
Step 2: Your ideas of the future
You have now made general assumptions about what the future might look like. You will likely be more certain about some assumptions and less certain about others. Now ask yourself a second round of questions to deeper into what your assumptions mean for you and your online shop. Here you have to focus on opportunities, but also consider any new requirements that might arise.
The questions could be:
- What can or must you do to adapt to changes in the future?
- How can you help people in the future?
- How can you satisfy the needs of your customers in the future?
- Which aspect of your business can be optimised now?
Step 3: Make a decision
Maybe it's not today, but there will come a day when you have to make a decision. Do you believe in yourself and your company or not? Will you continue or not?
Here's a question for myself: Hey Thorsten, isn't this question too extreme and much too early? There is still so much that's evolving at the moment ... My answer is definitely no!
Look, it's like the stock market. If you invest as soon as the newspapers say you should invest, it's already too late. In other words (one of my beloved self-imposed rules of life): If you do what everyone else does, you will achieve the average at maximum. Trust your intuition and allow yourself to be different. Such a clear decision is so important, because it brings you into action.
Step 4: Embrace change and put plans into action
Try to make the best possible use of what has already changed today. Just one example: You could get support from freelancers who have lost existing contracts due to the crisis. But there are definitely much more creative and rewarding possibilities ...
Plan and start the implementation at the earliest opportunity. It is not about putting yourself under stress and doing everything as quickly as possible. It's about simply acting upon your initial plan. Here I can recommend two starting points:
Starting point 1: Optimise what will stay the same
Things are going to change. But a lot will stay the same. What can be easily optimised at this stage? Or which improvements could prove to be particularly valuable in the current situation after the crisis?
Starting point 2: Implement new ideas
Which of your ideas are particularly promising? Or are there even ideas that you would enjoy realising? Maybe a good time to figure out what's most important for you and your business.
Thank you for this inspiring food for thought. How are you and TC-Innovations doing in the current situation?
Fortunately, I had already made our infrastructure and processes completely fit for remote or home office work a few months ago. Since then, everyone has been free to work from anywhere. However, we have temporarily closed the office and are almost 100% working from home. Apart from that, of course I have followed the four steps recommended above for myself.
The demand for our products has increased somewhat. It shows that more and more shop owners are using the time wisely to improve their shops.
Above all, we see the tendency that many new shops are being created in a very short time. This is where our ThemeWare® template is very useful, as it allows you to create a professional looking shop with very little effort.
TC-Innovations is known for its market-leading Shopware theme called ThemeWare®. ThemeWare® is an extremely adaptable theme that offers you a wide range of functions. Beginners benefit from the fact that ThemeWare® is already fully configured and comes with a ready-to-use Shopping World. In addition, the theme comes with accompanying Photoshop files and all graphic elements are included. For professionals and experienced shop operators, the advantage is that ThemeWare® can be adapted almost indefinitely with over 500 setting options.