Changing course: How four Australian businesses are charting new territory

- June 18, 2020 6 MIN READ

As economic changes took effect and social distancing rules were put in motion in early March this year, businesses across the globe had to act quickly to adapt to a ‘new’ world. Those that were able to move quickly not only managed to ensure a level of business continuity, but were generally able to keep their employees, support the wider community and find ways to meet their customers’ needs, writes Jason Toshack, General Manager ANZ, Oracle NetSuite.

With almost half (47%) of businesses making changes to their workforce and two-in-five (38%) changing the way they deliver products or services, adapting their business approach is an ongoing focus in Australia.

To better understand how businesses are adapting to changing market conditions, I talked to four of our customers, to uncover their approach to business continuity.

While each business is unique in its challenges and approach, one thing is clear: Australian businesses continue to show great resiliency in the face of a global economic event that, for some, changes almost everything about how they operate. Quick, strategic thinking coupled with the flexibility of a cloud-based business has allowed them to move to new areas of opportunity and meet their customers’ needs.

Read how these Australian brands have steered their businesses into clearer waters, and how they’re continuing to adapt as changes unfold:

Single O

Sydney-based coffee roaster and group of cafes, Single O, has been providing high-quality coffee since 2003 to businesses and cafes alike.

Operating under a primarily wholesale model, the initial COVID-19 restrictions had a significant effect on the business. Single O moved quickly to develop a special blend, the ‘Stimulus!’, in just 48 hours – compared to the typical three-month lead time required – along with a special offer to incentivise customers to purchase.

To support the wider community and its partners, Single O launched Kickback, a program to help its cafe and restaurant community tap into its online sales. Cafes including Three Blue Ducks, the Boathouse Group and Paddock are all onboard and able to earn up to 30% of the online sales they help generate back in coffee credits.

“The hospitality downturn hit hard with the closure of non-essential services, but the smaller side of our business, our online shop, was going strong. We thought how can we help our cafe customers with this? And ‘Kickback’ was born,” said Single O Co-Founder Dion Cohen.

Single O has also transformed one of its cafes into a local corner store, selling essentials like flour and cultured butter, as well as takeaway ready meals designed by their chef using seasonal and native ingredients.

Now that restrictions are changing, Single O is striving to design a new customer experience for the post COVID-19 world. From rolling out self-service coffee taps to a new product, ‘parachutes’, that give a cafe experience at home, the business is creating a coffee model for the new world order.

Cafes and restaurants will need to innovate, according to Miles Thomas, Head of Marketing & CX at Single O. “We’ll see dual models, where they might start to open up a limited amount of dining in a really hygienic way,” he said. “But they’re going to need to continue to find [new] streams of revenue, such as growing their online audiences, or delivering ready meals to homes, or looking at innovative service models.”

Springfree Trampoline

Since 2004, Springfree Trampoline has been making trampolines enjoyed by many. Originally designed and engineered by a Kiwi Dad, Dr. Keith Alexander in New Zealand, the business has since expanded internationally to major markets including Australia, New Zealand the USA, Canada and Europe.

When the COVID-19 restrictions came into effect, Springfree Trampoline experienced a different type of disruption to their business: a surge in demand. With families spending more time at home and playgrounds closed, they looked to find a place to get all that energy out. Enter trampolines. Globally the business is experiencing 300% YoY growth.

While many businesses experienced shortages in supply due to manufacturing lock downs, Springfree Trampoline was able to continue to fulfil orders as their factories are owner managed. The business had end-to-end control over the supply chain and were able to continue manufacturing products, only with minor disruptions. Closer to home, social distancing measures meant quickly transitioning to contact-free assessments, deliveries and installations.

“We’re laser-focused on providing exceptional customer service as conditions continue to change. This whole experience has instilled more emphasis on making your home your castle and we expect this trend will continue well into the future. We want to be able to help our customers in achieving this,” said Danielle West, Head of Sales and Marketing at Springfree Trampoline.


Started almost 30 years ago in Australia, Poolwerx is the biggest pool services company in the world. It targets swimming pool and spa, retail and service, with both domestic and commercial capabilities. Since its inception, Poolwerx has expanded to have over 160 retail hubs and 670 mobile servicing vans across Australia, NZ and the USA.

Poolwerx had to rapidly adapt its business to manage the safety of its team members and clients in line with social distancing measures. In just six weeks, the business developed six new products for consumer use. This includes a range of contact-free onsite pool service options including test and treat, test and deliver and chemical home delivery. Instore, Poolwerx increased hygiene and sanitisation procedures and offers new contact-free solutions including storefront water testing and click and collect.

By responding quickly, Poolwerx has been able to sustain business momentum all while meeting the needs of clients and franchise partners in a safe, sustainable way. Sales have rebounded quickly, and franchise partners have embraced the changes. Franchise sales are increasing and overall, the business is tracking well.

“We’ve been through five economic downturns, but those have been economic induced recessions. This has been a health induced recession which is more complicated – it’s a lot more out of our hands than it’s ever been before,” said John O’Brien, founder and CEO of Poolwerx. “We’re lucky we have a domestic and commercial multi-pronged business, as well as a services business, which we’ve been able to adapt to compensate.”


BioPak produces sustainable alternatives to conventional single-use packaging for the foodservice industry, offering carbon neutral compostable packaging solutions made from rapidly renewable, plant-based raw materials. With restaurants and cafes being BioPak’s core customer base, some of the worst affected sectors, the company had to work closely with customers to adapt to their ever-changing needs. These changes include providing guidance to help manage the shift of packaging requirements to include takeaway options, ensuring that production was increased to meet the demand.

All of this has been done whilst moving to a remote working model which – thanks to operating as a cloud-based company, using systems like NetSuite, and a close team – has not affected productivity or agility during this time.

According to BioPak’s CEO, Gary Smith, times of crisis require a lot of listening and strong brand leadership inside and out. “Never before has the idea of brands acting as agents of empathy been more important. We’re constantly working closely with our customers to adapt our business to their needs.”

In Australia, businesses across the board are facing a continual process of evolution and renewed focus as restrictions begin to ease. Over the past few months, we have seen exceptional resilience and examples of true innovation and entrepreneurship when up against vast, new challenges. While the journey to ‘normal’ is far from over, a firm commitment by local businesses to ensure operational continuity has had a notable positive impact on the communities we live and work in and on society as a whole.

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