The Pandemic, Internet and Humanity

Our daily lives and the role that the Internet plays during these unprecedented times

Around the world, 2020-21 probably was the most difficult period in living memory. Yet, here we are, having navigated the challenges, looking forward to the new dawn of 2022. For those of us in the technology sector, we’ve seen unprecedented corporate transformation across every industry and sector.

Retail consumers are demanding the world at their fingertips and opting for anything contactless, like contactless payments or virtual fitting rooms and simulations for products. We’ve seen queueing at entry and exit points in stores further drive customers to the online option. In 2021, unsurprisingly,  75 percent of consumers bought more online than ever before, with 48 percent saying their preferred method of shopping is online. In the past three months in the US there has been three-years worth of growth in digital transactions in comparison to pre-pandemic levels. Digital buying has become the norm for retailers. 2022 will be about further bridging physical and digital experiences using innovative technology, along with contactless collection models and hyper-personalized marketing services, which use facial recognition, footfall tracking, loyalty systems and customer profiling. Retailers also will need to redefine their supply chains to reduce store inventory and enable a storage-solution-to-end-user shipping capability. Last mile delivery options are starting to pop up in all kinds of variants of online platforms, like Amazon or Door Dash, Just Eat to 15-minute groceries to your door.

Retail is not the only sector that’s undergoing rapid and enforced change.

Travel and hospitality industry customers are more likely to fly with an airline or stay in a hotel that offers health and safety assurances and procedures, such as contactless boarding cards and room keys accessible on your mobile devices.

For many, travel and dining are more than just experiences, they can be a way of life. After months spent at home, domestic travel is rising again in popularity as people look forward to taking a trip to get away, a break to relax, reset, expand horizons and create new memories.

2021 saw contactless make a full move across the industry from temporary intervention to integrated service expectation. People are relying on contactless technology to feel safe. Brands are using digital technologies to enhance customer satisfaction, while collating key data insights and valuable consumer information. Collaboration between airlines, hotel brands and other operators will make it possible to further define behaviors of travelers, as well to further enhancing the user experience via relevant personalization and connection to commerce platforms.

Michael Tobin OBE, Founder and Chairman, Crystal Peak Acquisition

Restaurants that started home, with one eye on the huge swing in vehicle format and the other on the effects kits during lockdown are using third party delivery channels to continue a new-found revenue stream of consumers wanting to finish-at-home rather than order a finished takeaway. New models of dark kitchens and local packing services have provided an incremental service offering for restaurants, without burdening an already strained and constrained understaffed workforce.

Demand for digital interaction is set to continue in all areas of life. 2021 saw a significant uptake of electric vehicles and hybrids across the world, despite the collapse of mass market transportation during the pandemic. Now, they are the focus of basically every auto manufacturer. Interaction within the vehicle continues to increase. Telematics in the dashboard keeps manufacturers connected to consumers for an even greater proportion of their lives. Along with this fundamental change in engagement, there also is a slower but significant shift from an ownership economy to a usership economy. The latter is where where people are choosing more and more to rent or lease rather than own a vehicle, with pay-as-you-go not just related to taxi services.

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