Editor’s note: The Paper recently published an article entitled, An exclusive interview with Shen Guojun: How should the retail industry rebuild confidence in the post-pandemic era? The following is an abstract of the article.
“COVID-19 has had a significant impact on enterprises and public administration. From an enterprise’s perspective, we believe we should really reflect on how enterprises can better prepare for emergencies of a similar nature should they recur in the future,” said Shen Guojun, CPPCC National Committee member, and Founder and Chairman of Yintai Group.
Shen brought three proposals to this year’s NPC and CPPCC and offered advice on the weaknesses related to the prevention and control of COVID-19, accelerating post-COVID-19 economic recovery, and accelerating nature reserve legislation from three separate perspectives, namely business, public safety management and environmental protection.
Yintai Group, founded by Shen in 1997, is a diversified industrial development and investment group involved in numerous sectors including retail, property, gold, tourism, investment and finance. It owns many listed companies in China and abroad, and holds equity stakes in more than 100 companies.
Shen gave an exclusive interview with The Paper recently, and discussed his ideas and recommendations as regards the impact of COVID-19 on the business environment and on enterprises, as well as revitalizing the economy and rebuilding consumer confidence in a post-COVID-19 era, and how enterprises should respond.
The following is an abstract of the exclusive interview with Shen:
COVID-19 has had a very significant impact on the economy and social life of China, and indeed, the whole world. Yintai was not spared as well. The nature of our business has meant that the loss we sustained could be even bigger. The operations of Yintai Retails, with dozens of shopping centers nationwide, the many scenic spots under Yintai Tourism, as well as many star-rated hotels were dealt a severe blow during the epidemic, with direct losses estimated to exceed RMB1 billion.
I expect COVID-19’s impact on businesses to last about eight months, perhaps even a year. A rough estimate based on the impact of the 2003 SARS outbreak indicates that it takes about half a year to recover from the start of the outbreak to resumption of work and production, and then to pre-epidemic sales levels. COVID-19 is more severe than the 2003 SARS outbreak, so it will take at least eight months, perhaps even one year or longer, for sales to return to pre-epidemic levels from the time work and production resume.
I believe that adhering to a corporate digitalization agenda is critical. In fact, people used to talk a lot about enterprises needing to digitize, embrace the internet, and undertake some internet integrated businesses, but few enterprises walked the talk; many were mere spectators. COVID-19 was a wake-up call to accelerate digitalization for all enterprises. It is therefore, also a big revelation.
Going forward, enterprises should think about how they are to digitize as they develop. So, digitize your products, management, production capacity and production details, including transactions. Enterprises involved in commerce and trading, export, and industrial production, including logistics related channel enterprises, should accelerate the digitization of the entire supply chain. Only then can the impact on enterprises be less severe when confronted with similar crises in the future.
I believe that the 5G era will have a revolutionary impact not only on retail enterprises but also on almost all enterprises, including the lives and jobs of every single person. 5G growth will probably gather pace in China going forward, with an increasing number of applications. I think that every enterprise should earnestly embrace it, and in particular, integrate it into product R&D.
I think perhaps people didn’t used to think so much. They felt they could get by as long as they did their own thing, but the future will be very different. COVID-19 has been a revelation. This is particularly the case with the dawn of the 5G era. I think people will embrace 5G more closely and more rapidly, and that’s fantastic.