As anyone in the business world would agree, we’re in an uncertain time right now, with normal projection and forecasting tools not proving as accurate as they were in pre-COVID times. As business leaders look to the future, many are seeing a cloudy vision without a lot of certainty.
One way you can help clarify your view of the future is to see what other business leaders are saying about it. Taking a look at how their companies are faring and envisioning future growth can sometimes give you the insights you need to create a path.
We pored over hours of CEO interviews to bring you the insights that can help you find a clearer view of what the future might hold, with a few of the highlights below.
Brick and Mortar Isn’t Dead
Big box customers are shopping across categories, both online and in stores, said Target CEO Brian Cornell in a Nov. 18 interview. The company saw traffic rise by 4.5 percent and basket size grow by 15.6 percent during the firm’s most recent quarter.
“We’re seeing market share growth across all of our major categories: Home, beauty, food and beverage, household essentials, tremendous share gains in hard line categories like electronics and toys, real strengths in apparel,” he noted. “It has been broad based and we’re picking up share from our traditional competitors as well as specialty competitors.”
The company is seeing sales growth not only in digital shopping, but also in brick and mortar, he noted — and he expects that to continue into 2021.
Takeaway: People still want to shop in person when they feel it’s safe to do so. Touching and experiencing products in person can’t completely be replaced by digital interactions, so brick-and-mortar businesses should ensure that they enforce measures so customers feel safe to maintain foot traffic.
Alternative Power Sources Continue to Grow
With the growth of electric vehicles, we are also set to see the expansion of alternative power sources in other realms, said Ford Motor Co. CEO Jim Farley during a Nov. 12 interview. Ford has made an $11.5 billion investment in electric vehicles, and just announced a new all-electric van that the firm is marketing to its business customers.
“Ford’s bet is to electrify our commercial vehicles,” he said. “We’re 50 percent of the market in the U.S. for commercials.” In addition, he noted, the electric vehicles will go beyond the road. “Our electric vehicles are going to bring electrification to the job site so people will be able to use that battery in the E-transit to power the job site,” he said.
Takeaway: To ensure you get as much market penetration as possible, look beyond your core business, as Ford has done by extending its electric vehicle power to job sites. Any additional benefit you can give buyers will help steer them toward your business and away from the competition will help give you an edge.
Business Travel Will Change Dramatically
If you’re itching to resume business travel in the same manner you did a few years ago, you may be sorely mistaken. That was the word from Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates in a Nov. 17 interview.
“My prediction would be that over 50 percent of business travel and over 30 percent of days in the office will go away,” Gates said.
Gates projects that in the future, there will be a “very high threshold” for conducting business trips now that working from home has been normalized. Of course, this will vary from company to company, but many businesses have seen that they’ve been able to maintain the status quo in many ways despite a reduction in travel and in-office meetings.
Takeaway: Take a strong look at how your business has been utilizing travel and consider whether you can save time and money by shifting away from the travel-intensive schedule, even after the pandemic ends. Write down the lessons you’ve learned from the stay-at-home protocols to boost efficiency as much as possible in your business.