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Transforming Industries To Survive: COVID-19 Edition

A look at how various industries digitally transformed to face the COVID-19 crisis

By: Business Today Egypt

Sun, Dec. 13, 2020

As COVID-19 swept the nation, various businesses were suddenly faced with closing their doors and taking a step back to assess their business’s future, and their own. 

Even with lockdowns and quarantines, consumers continued to look for ways to meet their retail therapy needs, coffee and fast-food cravings and more while attempting to stay safe, and now looked toward their phones for answers.

The push for digital transformation was suddenly accelerated, with businesses having no choice other than pivot into other endeavors and business models or face complete closure.


Interest in online shopping grows

In July, Google released a report on how consumers changed their shopping behaviors during the pandemic. According to the report, Egyptians were 10% more likely to buy from online and offline compared to 2019 (increasing from 67% to 77%).

Putting this together with We Are Social’s July Digital Global Snapshot report, which reported that Egyptians opened around 13 ads a month and an 18% growth in Instagram users during the pandemic, local businesses had even more reasons to reach their consumers at home.

So, how could industries change to meet an increasing demand for services traditionally provided offline?

We took a quick look at some of the biggest changes in multiple industries.


Restaurants target young home cooks

What do you do when you know ordering food could mean being at the receiving end of a major virus, but still have the need for your favorite pizza takeout?

Fast food restaurants were the first to see the sudden gap in the market, quickly producing “frozen meal” options of their top dishes for young home cooks to cook at home with relative ease and comfort. By cooking the meals, people were able to minimize chances of infection and feel safer.

Suddenly online delivery menus were filled with frozen meal options, from kofta to signature pizza dough and sauces. Campaigns led by popular food-based social media influencers dominated channels such as Instagram stories to promote the safer alternative, and young home cooks began their cooking journeys.

Soon, others in the food and beverage industry joined the cause, with some cafes producing coffee kits for those that needed a special pick-me-up in the mornings.

Creating these options opens new opportunities for smaller restaurants and chains to build upon once COVID-19’s fever pitch ends. From cooking events to digital cookbooks or guides, this may herald a new larger group of young Egyptian home cooks looking for new brand experiences.


Furniture gets digitally-savvy

Online furniture shopping is still relatively niche, but due to the pandemic, online furniture retail shops have boomed.

During the pandemic, online furniture retailers blasted through advertising budgets and suddenly online furniture shopping had become a viable way to fill up unfurnished homes left empty due to quarantine.

These ecommerce stores have provided a way for small businesses to stay afloat, people to keep their jobs, and opened up a new

Currently, online furniture retailers should look up to fashion in order to learn more about providing higher quality content, while fashion outlets can learn a lot more from the food industry and short-form video channels such as Instagram reels and Tiktok.


Zoom workouts and online gym subscriptions build up sweat

One of the most popular upgrades to an industry due to COVID to date is the digital transformation of the fitness and wellness industry.

Gyms, one of the first non-essential businesses to close, jumped on the social media train and began to produce online workout videos as a way to keep clients happy and fit until limitations were lifted.

Once it became clear it would take longer than a month and more, some began to create online zoom classes.

Gyms and personal coaches created online subscriptions that contain nutrition plans, weekly schedules, and personal or group zoom workouts with trainers to survive.

Sellers of fitness wear and gear also bled into the scene, producing workout content that expanded their services and brand value.

While physical gyms will still be the norm, digital subscriptions and personalized online coaching will most likely continue to grow as they also reach gym-shy audiences.



The biggest revelation and hurdle for companies around the world, WFH (work from home) became an international necessity for both businesses and individuals.

In Egypt, companies who had never or rarely worked with contractors or digital workflow/task software were suddenly at a disadvantage as businesses struggled to find ways to protect their employees and themselves.

Glitching and slow zoom calls, blaring WhatsApp notifications, and missed calls became the new working normal for many. Managers had to suddenly explore the best ways to commute with remote employees, how to keep them motivated, and how to ensure tasks were being completed in a timely manner.

Although offices have since opened, many local companies are more open to the idea of a remote workforce. What was once a possibility reserved mainly for executives and tech companies is now an opportunity for many due to the digital transformation and changes implemented during COVID-19.

Real estate companies have also mentioned that they are working on finding ways to make WFH easier on their properties, a signal that home and corporate office spaces will see a profound change.

How can this affect companies in the long-run is yet to be seen, but as real estate developers continue to improve their properties’ work from home capabilities, WFH will be an acronym we will continue to see for a long time.