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COVID-19 retail innovation round up

Amidst all the fear and uncertainty surrounding the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it’s great to see retailers around the world quickly adapting to the situation and inventing new ways to serve customers. Here’s a quick round up of some of the great initiatives we’ve seen over the last week or so. We think some of these ideas are great, and hope to see them live long-term.

Flowers Vasette arranging a floral feast

Quick thinking Melbourne florist Flowers Vasette has started offering a ‘Minestrone Veggie Pack’ full of fresh veggies alongside their typical floral fare. With minestrone soup gently cooking away on the stove and a beautiful bouquet in a vase brightening up the place, Flowers Vasette is helping to make working from home a lot more bearable for its customers.

Uber Eats eats up the delivery fee for independent restaurants

Running any small business at the moment – especially a restaurant – is a challenging proposal at best, and Uber Eats is stepping up in the US by waiving delivery fees for all independent restaurants across the country, 100,000 of which are listed in the Uber Eats app. With all restaurants, bars and cafes in New York limited to take-away and delivery since Sunday, this will surely be especially appreciated by businesses and customers alike in The Big Apple. 

In Australia and New Zealand, Uber Eats has started a $5 million fund for the more than 22,000 restaurants on its platform to help them offer promotions to hungry customers. On top of that, Uber Eats is also waiving activation fees for new restaurants that want to sign up, and extending the reach of its platform to include caterers.

M&S and Woolworths

With sales of clothing and home goods down due to Brexit and now COVID-19, M&S in the UK is redeploying staff into its food stores to help meet the increased demand, while Woolworths has offered to hire some of the 20,000 Qantas workers who were laid off last Thursday. Two great example of a big retailer pivoting quickly to adapt to a dramatically changed retail environment.

Target’s Drive Up

Last year in the US, Target launched its Drive Up service, where customers can order online and pick up their items from the store without leaving their cars. For parents who want to avoid dragging their kids through a store, or for people wanting to avoid waiting two days for their item to be shipped, Drive Up is perfect. And now with social distancing crucial to minimise the spread of coronavirus, there’s a new reason driving home how clever and valuable this is as an offering.

Chipotle’s free delivery and tamper-evident packaging

As of last Sunday, Chipotle in the US has been offering free delivery on orders over $10 made via its website and app. On top of this, the company said it would be introducing and new tamper-evident seal on packaging to help customers feel confident their food hasn’t been touched during delivery. It was announced that these changes will last until March 31, but we suspect they’ll be in place for quite a while longer than that.

Preparing for what’s to come

With the coronavirus situation set to consume our collective consciousness for months at least, and the global economy in the position it is currently, we trust retailers will continue innovating to both weather the financial storm and to help communities function as best they can in these challenging times.


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