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WHILE THE MARKETS ARE STILL IN CRISIS, IT’S TIME TO CONSIDER THE POST-CORNAVIRUS WORLD

 

It may seem early to some, but the time has arrived to beginning thinking about the world after the COVID coronavirus virus. Whether that is a matter of months or more than a year away, most analysts agree that the effects will be substantial, and often in ways that are unexpected. The diamond business will not be excluded.

It first is necessary to define what exactly constitutes a post-coronavirus world, for this is most unlikely to a crisis that end with a declaration and all all-clear symbol. Barring the development of a vaccine and massive inoculation program, it is likely that COVID-19 remain, as will measures designed to mitigate its effects. This could well require the use of protective masks as a standard accessory when stepping out of house and interacting with others, as well as periodic quarantines, although these may be more pinpointed and related to sporadic instances of infection. In any case, it is likely that the lessons learned during the first massive cycle, in which we are still ensconced, will result in the development of more effective mitigating strategies.

What is likely to take a longer time to recover is international travel, as countries remain anxious about enabling non-citizens from entering without proper information about they have come from, or whether they are COVID-19 carriers. This, for the diamond business, means that a return to what was considered normal just prior to the pandemic is unlikely in the near and medium term.

ZOOMING IN ON THE CRISIS’ START PERFORMER

What is clear, even from the first weeks of the coronavirus shutdown, as that the adaptive capabilities of the business sector are considerable. With social distancing becoming the from, the use of technologies that enable virtual face to face encounters has become standard practice.

One of the companies that is likely to consider the current period of a crisis as its finest moment is Zoom, the video conference APP which has become the go-to tool for meetings, webinars, classes and family gatherings. 

According to a new report, during the week of during the week of March 14-21, business conferencing apps experienced record growth, topping 62 million downloads. It was the highest growth among any category across the APPle and Google app stores, and 90 percent than the weekly average of business APP downloads in 2019.

As the go-to tool for meetings, webinars, classes and family gatherings the video conferencing APP Zoom is likely to consider the COVID-19 crisis as its finest moment.

Zoom Cloud Meetings was not the only video conferencing APP enjoying success. So was Google’s Hangouts Meet and Microsoft Teams.

Nonetheless, Zoom was in a class of its own, downloaded 14 times more than the weekly average during the fourth quarter of 2019 in the United States. It was also downloaded more than 20 times last year’s fourth quarter weekly average in the United Kingdom., 22 times more in France, 17 times more in Germany, 27 times more in Spain and 55 times more in Italy.

Previous crises have shown that measures adopted at their height do not disappear once the period of turmoil is over. Often, they are found to be effective under a wide range of circumstances, and so become part of standard operating procure. It is far to assume therefore, in the post coronavirus environment, remote conferencing will remain, changing the concept of how business are run, and clients and staff are managed. 

 

Companies that have already developed in-house online sales capacity, like MID House of Diamonds, will have a foo up in the post-coronavirus  world.    (*click to enlarge)

ACCELERATING PROCESSES THAT HAD ALREADY BEGUN

It is fair to state that the coronavirus, at least if its duration is limited, at that is likely on the assumption that a vaccination will be developed within a 12-month to 18-month period, will result in fewer new technologies being created, but rather an acceleration of technological process that were already underway.

Such seems to be the case with online trading, be it in the rough and polished diamond sector, where the move online commenced already several years ago. However, while it has embraced by a growing number of companies, some of which developed impressive inhouse capabilities both in terms of sales and marketing, the fact that the ability to do business by traditional means remained meant that a large part of the industry did not substantially change.

The coronavirus is likely to change that, in that it provides traditional dealers with very limited choices. And since free markets detest vacuums, the buyers are likely to be drawn into those places where business is still being done. This will force others to take substantial parts of their business online in order to survive.

In the meantime, however, cash will have to begin flowing through the pipeline, and that is not yet happening because of the close to hermetic shutdown in the retail jewelry markets. But, while there is likely to be residual damage, the markets will return and assume new sense of normal, which will be different to that which existed in the pre-coronavirus period.