The race that determined the fastest man in the world.

It was the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and the 36-year old Linford Christie of Great Britain was ready to defend his gold medal in the men’s 100 meters from the1992 Barcelona Olympics.

The eight runners lined up, ready to hurl themselves toward the finish line at break-neck speed.

Feet set in the starting blocks and hands on the track as they waited for the crack of the gun.

No gun sounded but the runner in lane two started running… and the rest followed.

Linford Christie, the former gold medal winner, had false-started.

At the time, a runner was allowed two false starts before a disqualification.

He was warned and the race restarted.

Feet in the blocks, eight men envisioned themselves on the podium, gold medal around their neck… their national anthem playing in the background. 

The gun exploded!

The sprinters dashed toward the line.

But another shot rang out. Another false start.

This time the false start belonged to… Linford Christie, again.

The two false starts cost Christie the race. 

The defending champion was thrown out and asked to leave the arena.

His Olympic gold went to Donovan Bailey of Canada who set a new world record.

“The first one I knew I did, but on the second one I felt I reacted perfectly to the gun. I have never been disqualified from a race before in my life. What a place to do it.”

–Linford Christie

The question now facing the world and its respective countries is: have we jumped the gun in this coronavirus pandemic by opening stores and restaurants and bars too soon?

Open and Shut… Again 🙁

A woman small business owner affected by the COVID-19 virus

Many countries and states have reopened, at some capacity. Stores, restaurants, hair salons, bars/pubs, and gyms have opened… only to close again.

In some cases, the companies themselves took proactive measures by shutting down to protect workers. For example, Apple reopened multiple stores across the US but then decided to reclose 77 due to the rising cases in those states and/or cities.

In Miami, restaurants closed down again, as did fitness centers and gyms.

In LA, beaches reclosed and, in other parts of California, gyms and bars had to shut down.

Australia just imposed a six-week lockdown.

Serbia will implement another lockdown and parts of Spain are doing the same.

It’s a tough year for retailers. Some are open and trying to thrive. Others have been forced to close or follow stronger regulations, such as requiring all customers to wear masks, which not every region has chosen to do so.

E-commerce is more important than ever.

E-commerce Is Here to Stay

Social distancing policies will remain a constant in society, retail stores, and maybe even in your business. Along with masks and continually disinfecting one’s self, going out is becoming less appealing.

More and more, customers are researching and buying online. Customers that have a negative e-commerce experience, much like in-store, probably won’t be back.

And a negative e-commerce experience can mean many things: a slow website, difficult navigation, batch-and-blast communications… all of these hand customers an excuse to buy from the competition.

Remove the notion of e-commerce being transactional; think of it as forming an emotional connection with customers, much like in-store.

Real-time 1:1 personalized messages sent to customers will be increasingly important as this pandemic wears on. You have to reach and communicate with customers as if they were in your store.

Final Thoughts

In many countries, the virus is flaring up again and causing havoc for retailers.

person wearing a radiation suit

Will the second coronavirus wave cause a full lockdown again? Or will things be curtailed, but people have to venture out in full-on hazmat suits?

Whatever the case, e-commerce will grow as customers are forced online or are uncomfortable going out due to the extra safety required.

E-commerce is here. It’s embedded into our lifestyle now and it’s the best way to connect with your customers and create an emotional connection.