It’s a basic human tendency to ignore things that have the capability of affecting us negatively. There was a myriad of forebodings and warning signs that incessantly signalled towards the perpetual domination of the online markets and businesses. A lot was said and done to stop the internet and everything that came with it.
“The Virtual Pandemic,” as we like to call it, has been lurking in the shadows long before the Covid-19 hit the Earth like an iceberg. Firstly, the internet was limited to YouTube and Whatsapp; then came the era of E-commerce, which further started revolutionising the world. Despite this, the public chose to remain oblivious.
“There’s a lack of tactile experience when it comes to shopping products online; you can’t touch and feel a product,” “’There’s so much unreliable information on the Internet,” “Internet is a curse for the offline markets and should be curbed at any cost,” were some of the statements that were said when the digitization process was still taking shape.
In this article, we will address the long-existing threat of a virtual pandemic and the problems that incurred with ignoring the warning signs.
How Covid-19 Exposed the Virtual Pandemic
The signs were prevalent five years ago when the Internet disguised itself as a virus and we welcomed it warmly, albeit with considerable suspicion. Social engagements moved to online spaces, emails and text messages were replaced by Whatsapp notifications, and e-commerce gave way to new and exciting shopping experiences.
Despite this, the majority of the public chose to ignore the inevitable inception of the “Internet Virus,” and continued to carry on with their old, offline methods. The ultimate realization came in the form of the outbreak of an epidemic, which soon turned into the Coronavirus pandemic. This pandemic acted as the external factor in exposing the situation which till now was brimming under the carpet.
This realization gave way to panic as their offline world—both personal and professional—was threatened significantly. This also brought one other factor into the light: those who choose to remain stagnant and not prepare themselves to match the advanced digital race, are eventually the ones to suffer at the hands of the same.
The Biggest Forewarning
One of the most conspicuous examples of the virtual pandemic and how the world ignored it is of Reliance Jio. With the goal of revolutionizing the telecom industry, Jio launched their free data plan at the mere cost of 100 rupees.
This created the situation of a pandemic for the offline markets and telecom businesses, who were soon pushed towards unemployment. This should have been the biggest forewarning of the domination of digitization, but even this was ignored by the majority of us.
Bigger and Identical Virtual Markets Replaced the Real Marketplace
Shopkeepers opposed the online markets. Employers were irked at the insinuation of employees working in the comforts of their homes. People preferred shopping in person to make sure their clothes were up to their exact expectations. Teachers and parents liked ensuring full attendance of their children. But all this crumbled down to rubble once the pandemic knocked on our doors.
Now, in the “New Normal,” the real marketplace has an identical and bigger virtual market. The Work From Home culture is appreciated by not only employees but employers as well. The brick-and-mortar industries are overshadowed by the e-commerce websites, where shoppers appreciate the plethora of choices that they are offered without stepping out of their homes and putting their lives in danger. Online education platforms like Coursera and Byju’s provided interactivity and educational experience that left the students and teachers in astonishing bewilderment.
The Best Antivirus
While Covid-19 was a major roadblock in the offline business, it acted as a boon for the online spaces. The ones who had prepared to transit themselves with the advancing online world were the ones who survived and thrived. And the ones who were rigidly stuck in their old-fashioned ways faced challenges they never saw coming.
That’s why the best way to fight this “Virtual Pandemic” is to create a synergy between the online and offline world. Every offline space—be it a business enterprise, educational institution, medical service, or retail shops—need to extend to the digital customer experience as well.
Investing in advanced virtual interaction, along with AI-powered search, significant inventory management, and predictive analytics, to name a few—will go a long way in ensuring a neck-to-neck competition with not only the counterparts but with the changing times as well.
Customers will no longer be satiated with the average experience, what they want and demand is a seamless virtual interaction that can only be achieved if the online market is given equal, if not more importance and attention.