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COVID-19 retail innovation round up #2

Last month we wrote about some of the clever initiatives businesses have implemented in order to adapt to the unprecedented COVID-19 situation. Since then we’ve seen a bunch more, so we thought we’d share a few of them with our lovely readers. Hopefully they’re a little good news in a time when we’re all desperate for some. And who knows, maybe they’ll spark an idea or two? Let’s take a look.

Fashion brands making face masks and surgical gowns

With personal protective equipment in such short supply around the world, it’s great to see fashion brands stepping up to help meet the huge demand.

Two notable examples are Burberry is using its global supply chain to donate 100,000 surgical masks to the NHS and also retooling its Yorkshire factory to make masks and gowns for patients, and Scanlan Theodore repurposing its Fiji factory for the same reason.  Other Australian labels like Nobody Denim and Arnsdorf are waiting on the government’s go-ahead to produce PPE, and are ready to commence production as soon as it’s granted.

Car manufacturers prototyping ventilators

Some of the world’s biggest car brands including Toyota, Ford, GM, Jaguar Land Rover, Vauxhall and Tesla have indicated a keen willingness to use their factories to produce ventilators for COVID-19 patients in need of breathing assistance.

Production is still in its infancy at time of writing, but this looks to be ramped up dramatically in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, researchers in Melbourne have devised a way of splitting ICU ventilators so that two or more people can use the same machine at the one time.

Fingers crossed it doesn’t come to that in Australia, but other parts of the world are likely to be implementing the research findings immediately.

Restaurants selling cook-it-yourself packs

With restaurants and cafes either fully closed or operating as takeaway-only, a bunch of innovative chefs are cooking up out-of-the-box ideas to help keep foodies’ taste buds happy.

Korean eatery Sàng in Sydney and Atlas Dining in Melbourne are amongst the growing list of restaurants offering delicious DIY home cooking packs so devotees can hone their own cooking skills with pre-assembled restaurant quality ingredients. Atlas Dining’s head chef Charlie Carrington is even uploading videos of himself whipping up his creations to show exactly how it’s done, and going live on Instagram to answer any questions on the finer points of creating his fine-dining dishes.

But maybe you don’t feel like cooking? Maybe you’ve got a hot Bumble date, but no restaurant to go to (for obvious reasons). Not to worry, Stella & Co’s ‘Isodate’ has star-crossed lovers covered (in Melbourne, at least) with a separate home-delivery feast of Chin Chin’s finest, made with a whole lotta love and accompanied by mouth-watering DIY cocktails from Four Pillars. Just add Skype (or FaceTime or Zoom) and bon appétit!

Would you like milk with that?

To help ease the supermarket rush, McDonald’s has started offering customers grocery staples like milk, eggs and bread rolls. We’re lovin’ the initiative, but stocking up on essentials under the golden arches makes it hard to not break the golden rule of grocery shopping – never shop while hungry.

Image: Alex Motoc

Virtual views of zoos…and tulips!

Melbourne and Sydney’s biggest zoos have both recently started streaming their animals’ antics live online. Animal lovers can tune in 24/7 and watch lions and tigers and bears (oh my!) having fun in their homely habitats. Additionally, the zoos are uploading extra content like talks with zookeepers and behind-the-scenes footage to their social channels to help keep parents, teachers and kids enthralled and eager to visit as soon as the restrictions are lifted.

In a colourful twist on the cliché of watching grass grow, the Netherland’s famous Keukenhof garden is now offering virtual tours of its stunning tulips in full bloom. A must see for green thumbs everywhere.

LEGO making 13,000 visors a day

Is there nothing LEGO can’t do? The Danish toy maker has recently been pumping out over 13,000 protective visors for medical workers EVERY SINGLE DAY. According to a video the company tweeted, LEGO has already converted no fewer than six of its machines at its Danish factory to create the full-size visors, and can, if necessary, scale that number up to 58,000 a day. These visors are already approved the US FDA, so will likely be used in the US and Europe alike. Amazing.

Log on, chop it off. Video-guided self-haircuts.

Is the thought of cutting your own hair far too hair-raising for you? What if you were under the careful video tutelage of a top barber or hair stylist? Enterprising hairdressers across the world have signed up to to help those with long lockdown locks to get a fresh cut and feel a million bucks. Would you be game?

Evolve or perish – on fast forward

Sooner or later (hopefully sooner), human ingenuity will allow us to beat this pandemic. How long it will take is anyone’s guess, but one thing’s for certain – the most innovative businesses are the ones most likely to survive…and thrive.


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