Innovations That Matter

7 Retail Innovations Responding to COVID-19

Innovation Snapshot

The retail trends we’ve been tracking in recent weeks are a mix of brand new approaches and the acceleration of trends that were already gaining traction.

The retail trends we’ve been tracking in recent weeks are a mix of brand new approaches and the acceleration of trends that were already gaining traction, such as live streaming sales, creative influencer marketing and the use of virtual and augmented reality.

Live-streaming has allowed brands to shift sales online and even launch new products. In China, we’ve seen Naixue Tea collaborate with an influencer to release a new line targeted at home consumers, and in Paris, Lanvin utilised virtual reality and streaming technologies to put on a cloud fashion show. 

Elsewhere, digital platforms that aim to enhance the consumer experience are being put to good use. We spotted a grocer in New York allowing customers to practice social distancing and skip long checkout lines using a smartphone app. Others, like one bridal company in Spain, are creating new, virtual platforms to move products during the lockdown. 

Photo source VCG; Pixabay

TEA CHAIN USES LIVE STREAMING AND INFLUENCER TO LAUNCH NEW PRODUCT

Naixue Tea collaborated with Alibaba local delivery service affiliates and e-Commerce live streamer, Zhang Dayi, to launch a new line of themed drinks for customers to enjoy at home. Zhang’s BigEve beauty brand worked with the chain to create a gift box shaped like a to-go cup, which they filled with a limited edition cleanser, facial scrub, body wash, and Naixue drink vouchers. Zhang then launched a live stream on Taobao, which sold nearly 3,000 sets within seconds, and more than 10,000 units by the end of the broadcast on the 21st March. 

Read more about this collaboration.

Photo source Ein Kaffee kostet mehr als from Pixabay

BRIDAL COMPANY LAUNCHES FIRST VIRTUAL SHOWROOM

The Barcelona-based bridal company, Pronovias Group, launched what it claims to be the first digital showroom in the industry, where customers can shop the latest collections of all the group’s brands – Pronovias, St. Patrick, Nicole, White One and Lady Bird. The company has also debuted a B2B e-service platform to exchange information with customers and plans to expand the number of countries that offer virtual appointments. With over 400 points of sale in 105 countries, the initiative is part of Pronovias’ digital transformation process to improve the service for their worldwide customers, through multiple channels.

Read more about this virtual showroom.

Photo source elfyeah on TikTok

COSMETICS BRAND REMIXES TIKTOK VIDEO TO RAISE AWARENESS

In partnership with Mobile Marketer, E.l.f. Cosmetics remixed the song “Eyes. Lips. Face.”, which appeared as a branded video on TikTok last autumn and was written by Grammy-Award winning songwriter iLL Wayno, to “Eyes. Lips. Face. Safe.” In the new version, singer Holla FyeSixWun washes her hands and sings about social distancing. 

Read more about this TikTok marketing move.

Photo source Mohamed Hassan on Pixabay

JEWELLER PIVOTS TO LIVE-STREAMED ‘STORES’

In China, Shenzen-based multi-brand jeweller Ideal converted its business almost overnight from a traditional, bricks-and-mortar-based shop, to an e-commerce model that uses live-streaming. The company’s in-store sales staff have become live broadcasters, with each one managing their own live-streamed “store” as a type of franchise. Ideal has partnered with SaaS retail software provider YouZan to build a mini-platform within the popular WeChat app. By using the new platform as a virtual warehouse, Ideal’s sales associates are able to share the company’s warehouse inventory nationwide.

Read more about Ideal’s transformation.

Photo source Instacart

INSTACART SHARES DATA TROVE TO EASE GROCERY SHORTAGES

Grocery chains and their suppliers, in particular, are having a very hard time keeping up with the vast increase in demand for home delivery. To help provide a solution, online grocery delivery platform Instacart began sharing its vast trove of data with producers of packaged food items. The hope is this will help prevent supply chain issues. The company already had plans in the works to begin sharing tailored insights from its newly-developed consumer intelligence tool, but these plans were moved up. 

Read more about InstaCart’s data sharing.

Photo source Flaunter on Unsplash

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.

Read more about this cloud fashion show.

Photo source Future Proof Retail

SKIP-CHECKOUT APP AIDS GROCERY SHOPPERS

In New York, Fairway Markets’ scan-and-go app is helping shoppers practice social distancing by avoiding long lines at checkout. 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 skip-checkout app.