The Impact Of Covid-19 On the Retail Industry In Norway

Johnnie Savva


In this clip Petter Balstad focuses on how the pandemic effected his start-up, both for the better and worse. Some of their customers lost 90% of their turnover overnight, compared to other customers who saw a massive growth!

But it wasn’t just the sales that Covid-19 impacted- office dynamic was effected too. Watch the video to find out more!


Johnnie: So we’re at the stage where you’ve started Omnium, you’ve had the first few years of building the business, finding what works, making the mistakes, learning from them, and then out of nowhere we get to this wonderful year of 2020 and we have the unfortunate pandemic of COVID-19. And it’s in from a business point of view for a lot of businesses and obviously, from a health point of view, for people, it’s been absolutely horrendous. How has COVID affected Omnium. And obviously your market in itself.

Petter: Well, first of all, we moved into our new offices in the end of February, that was great timing we spent 10 days in the new office and then we had to go home for four months or something. But but other than that, I would say we have been really lucky. We had a lot of work to do before COVID kind of hit us here. 12th March, I think Oslo’s shutting down. So, yeah, it didn’t really affect us. Of course, it was harder to sell to new customers during COVID and the lockdown.So no, no sales for a few months. But still we had a strong group of existing customers that obviously saw this tremendous spike in their online sales. So for us, it was all hands on deck and helping out our existing customers as best we could to kind of take in their new reality.

Johnnie: Yeah, and with the sort of future market conditions following this sort of pandemic that we’ve come and we’ve seen, the changes it’s made to certain industries, obviously some of the negative impacts and some positive. Do you think it’s going to affect the sort of industries that Omnium focus on and and going forward, how do you think it’s going to basically affect the potential businesses that you guys would work with?

Petter: You know, during COVID, we saw some of our customers losing like 90 percent of their turnover overnight. And because there was no one visiting their stores anymore. They’re like hundreds and hundreds of stores all around Scandinavia, even though their online sales were up like 10 times normal. But that can’t really take that doesn’t really matter if you lose kind of the the revenue from hundreds or thousands of shops and then we have some customers like the sporting industry, which shows like a tremendous growth during these times, you know, because no one can travel anymore. No one can go to France or Spain on summer holidays. So everyone buying tents and sleeping bags, going out in nature, camping instead. And so you have both. But what every one of our existing customers has is like a really, really big increase in their online sales. And that’s obviously a good thing for Omnium as we get the online and offline world together and help them manage their online orders in a better way. So I have to say COVID terrible things, but to be selfish for Omnium in a business world, it just shows the point even stronger. It’s highlighted the need for obviously times to move almost certain business aspects, to move on and to adapt and embrace the modern side to what technology can bring now I guess. Would it mean that you’ve got to make any structural changes to how you run your business in that sense, obviously coming away from the actual business side and turnover and customers in terms of how you run Omnium and as a business owner, as you’re sure any structural changes have to take place.

Petter: Yeah, of course, when people are at home for three or four months, it’s harder to kind of keep the dynamic of the company. You keep kind of the the same entrepreneurial spirit over a conference call. Isn’t that easy. So so I was really glad during the summer where kind of things were opening up more so we can go back to the office. Now we’re like in the office as much as you want, basically. But most of the people are there like maybe three days a week. And then some home, yeah, but so that’s one thing, but also like the communication with your customers, we can’t meet our customers as often as we would like we did in the past and potential new customers as well.,And we can’t really travel to go to sales meetings abroad, as you probably would have done now without COVID. So it’s exciting to see how that works out over a conference call going forward.