By Kristy Dorsey

Business leaders from China have advised Scottish firms to use the downtime created by the spread of Covid-19 to prepare for business after the pandemic eases.

Speaking from Chongqing in a webinar organised by the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, Merlin Group regional director Donny Dong XianXu said the first priority was to ensure staff and customer safety, followed by any measures to secure business survival. Thereafter, the focus should be on “anticipating business after the crisis”.

Mr XianXu was joined by Andy Yuan Zhendong of retail group Xiexin and John Fowler, advisor to the British Chamber of Commerce Southwest China. The event was hosted in China by Alex Middleton of the Chongqing Investment Promotion Centre and from Glasgow by Richard Muir, deputy chief executive of the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce.

Mr Zhendong said firms needed to quickly develop their digital marketing skills to weather the immediate crisis and lay the groundwork for the future. He and the other panellists gave various examples of how WeChat, the messaging, social media and mobile payment app, had been deployed in China as a sales tool.

They further recommended the use of technology to build a community group around a business. “One of the ways to do this is through information sharing activity to help customers understand your products and services better,” Mr Fowler said.

Mr Zhendong said firms should also use the lull in activity to provide further training to staff in areas such as proper health procedures and productivity improvements. Additionally, technology can be deployed to provide emotional and psychological support to staff feeling anxious or isolated during the crisis.

The webinar was the second in a series being rolled out by the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.