The Year that Was and the Year Ahead: 2020-2021

As we come to the end of 2020, it’s a good time to look at the year that was and the year that is to come. Learn from what was successful and, perhaps more importantly, learn from what wasn’t successful. Then, take a look at the future and you’ll be able to develop a good plan for 2021.

Looking Back – Explosive E-Commerce Growth

2020 was another year of seeing the shift from in-person to online retail. Anyone who was used to 3-5 day delivery for Amazon orders to Hawaii found many orders taking weeks to arrive. This is in part due to constrained supply chains, but the simple fact is Amazon became completely overwhelmed and was unable to keep up with demand.

Kona Impact’s clients that sold products online all saw very strong sales numbers in 2020 with some increasing sales over 200%. Those who put some effort into online marketing did the best.

Looking Back – The Annus Horribilus for Tourism-Dependent Businesses

Unfortunately, the best strategy for many tourism-dependent businesses in 2020 was to hibernate, and for some, the most rational decision was to close. There were simply no tourists on the island from April through October and the months since then saw tourism numbers down about 80%.

The main lesson from 2020 is that there were huge opportunities for businesses with an online sales component, and, at the other end, local tourism-dependent businesses saw virtually no opportunities.

Looking Forward – Time to Get Back to Work

For many 2020 was a year of stagnation, a time when many marketing efforts seemed futile. I expect 2021 to be the opposite: strong efforts will yield excellent results in 2021.

We expect an anemic winter, but we see the late spring and summer to be a boom time for almost all businesses in Hawaii. Normal travel will resume, and we expect that the pent-up demand for a sense of normalcy will result in a very high level of tourism to the islands. We’ll also see more local economic activity as people get back to work and get over the fear of COVID.

Check back for some very specific and actionable tasks for small businesses to set themselves on a course of success for 2021.