Innovations That Matter

7 Innovative Business Ideas in Response to Coronavirus

Innovation Snapshot

Here are 7 of our favourite recent innovations that could change business for the better in the long-run.

These are uncertain times, to say the least — priorities are shifting daily as a global health emergency is being dealt with on a global scale. All the while, businesses have been forced to act fast in response — to help others suffering through the crisis while attempting to stay on solid ground financially. 

The trends we’ve been tracking are a mix of brand new approaches and the accelerated use of emerging technologies and platforms, such as live-streaming and virtual reality, to reshape business models and engage with consumers in creative ways.

Time will tell whether or not the following innovative business ideas will have staying power in their respective industries once there is a return relative normalcy, but we at Springwise do find it inspiring to see so many interesting and creative solutions coming to light. 

Springwise will continue to bring you the most purpose-driven innovations on a daily basis, including those that are directly relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the meantime, here are 7 of our favourites that could change business for the better in the long-run. 

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’ve published a list of 7 More Business Ideas in Response to Coronavirus, featuring more recent innovations.

Photo source: Canlis

1. NEW BUSINESS MODEL FOR AN UPSCALE RESTAURANT

In the face of uncertainty, the Seattle restaurant Canlis thought strategically and adjusted to the new environment and its demands. The restaurant transformed into three pop-up restaurants: a drive-through burger joint, a bagel shop, and a “family meal” delivery service.

The idea originated with the restaurant’s co-owners, Mark and Brian Canlis, who along with their team, started redesigning the restaurant in anticipation of the state’s announcement. Donated fryers have helped to keep up with the daily demand for burgers, and a shipping container was set up in the restaurant garden, where the bagels will be made. Previous servers will act as delivery people, meaning all 115 employees have been kept on (although this isn’t compulsory).

“You have to play as much offence as you do defence . . . So what would we look like from scratch?” Mark said of his approach.

Read more about this new restaurant business model. 

Photo source: Streetify

2. NEW VIRTUAL STOREFRONT PLATFORM OFFERS FREE ACCESS TO RETAILERS

If shoppers can’t visit the high street, why not bring the high street to shoppers? That is the idea behind Streetify, an e-commerce platform that launched in late March, just in time to help businesses respond to the COVID-19 crisis.

With shoppers forced to stay at home, Streetify is hoping its website and free app will help connect consumers with local stores, to help keep them afloat. It is also providing retailers free access to the platform for one year in the U.K., U.S., Canada, India and Australia. 

Users of the app and website can actually choose the street they wish to visit and can scroll left or right to “walk” up and down. They are shown virtual storefronts and can click on any store to enter its Streetify website. Once inside the “store”, consumers can see all of the special offers, deals and promotions that have been gathered from top deal sites such as Groupon and Rakuten. Business owners can also put messages in their virtual storefront windows, announcing deals, delivery options, in-stock goods and more.

Read more about Streetify.

Photo source: mi.com

3. A 72-HOUR PRODUCT LAUNCH, LIVE-STREAMED 

Chinese mobile phone maker Xiaomi collaborated with the video platform Bilibili for a 72-hour, live-streamed launch event for its Mi 10 5G phone during the height of China’s coronavirus lockdown. 

The event, which began on the 13th of February, featured a two-hour press conference with an emotional Lei Jun, Xiaomi’s founder, who unveiled the new phone, videos, product giveaways and a virtual art exhibit. There was also COVID-19-related content like vlogs from Wuhan residents and some educational programming.

The streaming event, dubbed “Life is Not Made for Defeat,” pulled in around 12 million viewers and 2.6 million comments on Bilibili’s trademark “bullet chat” format, which streams user comments across the screen in real-time. 

Read more about this live-streamed product launch. 


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Photo source: Perfect

4. YOUCAM MAKEUP PROVIDES FREE AR TECH FOR BRANDS 

As the global coronavirus pandemic picked up speed and non-essential stores closed, consumers turned to online ordering in unprecedented numbers. As a result, augmented reality developer Perfect saw interest grow in its AR beauty app, YouCam Makeup. The company decided to offer cosmetics brands free AR experiences, web subscriptions and product listings as a way to help them remain connected with their customers.

The company offered brands a free subscription to their browser plug-in YouCam for Web, to help brands integrate virtual makeup “try-ons” into their websites. Perfect also waived the license fee for brands who sign up for YouCam A.R.T., an AR platform for live training sessions.

Perfect’s technology lets shoppers sample makeup and hair colours virtually before they buy. Through its YouCam app, it also offers beauty aficionados interactive ways to connect with the global beauty community through virtual experiences, such as one-to-one on-demand beauty consultations and Livestream beauty shows.

Read more about YouCam’s AR services.

Photo source: Future Proof Retail

5. SKIP-CHECKOUT APP AIDS SHOPPERS 

As shoppers practice social distancing and self-isolation, stores have seen a major increase in the number of customers using mobile checkout apps to avoid standing in lines. As a result, Fairway Markets ramped up the promotion of its skip-checkout app. At one point, the company was signing up more than 1,000 new users a day and has added additional servers to help process the extra orders.

The company has been promoting its scan-and-go app on social media sites, as well as in stores. After shoppers download the app, they use their phones to scan product bar codes.  When they have finished with their shopping, users scan a special QR code that tells the app they are ready to pay. Around one in twenty transactions is audited after checkout by a store employee, to deter theft.

Read more about the app.

Photo source: Deliveroo Press/Flikr

6. POPULAR TAKEAWAY DELIVERY APP ADDS GROCERY ORDERS

The UK delivery service Deliveroo, which is mainly used for restaurant food orders, partnered with grocery giant Marks and Spencer to provide essentials to households during the coronavirus pandemic. The M&S-Deliveroo delivery service is free and is aiming to drop-off orders in less than 30 minutes. 

Deliveroo also explored other ways to help those in need during the pandemic. They recently launched “Essentials by Deliveroo,” where users can order tinned goods, pasta and other household items.

Read more about the new delivery option.

Photo source: Flaunter on Unsplash

7. VR USED TO CREATE CLOUD FASHION SHOW

During Paris Fashion Week, Lanvin collaborated with video platforms Douyin, Yizhibo, iQiyi, and luxury e-tailer Secoo to create a cloud fashion show. The brand also invited fashion bloggers and boyband UNINE’s Jiayi (嘉羿) to live stream the show’s behind-the-scenes action under the hashtag #lanvin云秀场 (#lanvinCloudBasedRunway), resulting in over 5 million views.

Beyond its new clothing, Lanvin’s latest handbags – which are inspired by everyday objects like takeaway boxes for cakes –  peaked on Chinese social media, starting conversations and helping direct a younger audience to the brand.

Read more about Lanvin’s cloud fashion show.