How independent brands are adapting to life in lockdown
30 Mar 2020
Despite these chaotic circumstances, entrepreneurs are rolling up their sleeves, thinking creatively, and making decisive moves to get themselves in position to bounce back when the crisis has passed. For entrepreneurs, necessity really is the mother of invention. Here are some of the best ways in which some brands in our community are adapting their offerings – and what you can learn from them.
1. From dining out to DIY dining.
With the lockdown forcing restaurants to close their doors, a number of them have morphed into slick food delivery services, offering delicious dine-in options delivered to our doors. Take Tart London from Eccleston Yard. Unable to make food and have guests on-site, they’ve empowered locals to make their dishes at home by delivering recipe cards and boxes of ingredients to their front doors. Similarly, Bright restaurant of Hackney fame has pivoted to offer cook-at-home meal options, alongside a wine takeaway and delivery service.
If you can’t get your products to your community, think about how you can still engage them online. In the US, Loosid, a small business that helps people stay sober, has turned its ‘Boozeless Guides’ into online events, giving its community the chance to explore bars and restaurants that offer virtual mocktails.
2. Everybody partner up.
With supermarkets selling out of the essentials, the independent Notting Hill Fish Shop found itself inundated with locals looking to buy fresh fish. In fact, their sales doubled in a week. They saw an opportunity to use this momentum to support other businesses – hiring out-of-work local chefs and partnering with butchers and greengrocers to expand customer services to meat, fruit and veg. The key takeaway: together we’re stronger. Why not look out for like-minded brands to partner with and pool resources so you can offer a combined service for your customers?
3. Think different.
We’ve been amazed by the inventiveness shown by other businesses over the past few weeks. Although most stores started to close when the pandemic took hold, womenswear brand Henri London saw an opportunity. They transformed rapidly and radically from clothing line to a collection hub – offering boxes of fresh, organic vegetables that can feed two people for a week.
Normally a small luxury linen brand, 31 Chapel Lane have turned their expert hands to crafting much-needed surgical masks for frontline staff. Distilleries like Bristol’s Psychopomp have been making hand sanitiser for locals in return for donations. In Paris, a couture seamstress has even made face masks out of vacuum cleaner filter bags and scraps of fabric. To help the global effort, think about what resources you have aside from your product.
4. A show of solidarity.
If you can no longer reach your normal customers, is there someone else in need that could still be using your products? After closing all their stores following the government’s lockdown, Doughnut Time decided to give all their treats to deserving NHS workers – delivering 3,000 doughnuts to hospitals across London. Even though they couldn’t sell their stock, they knew their products could at least bring a bit of comfort to those people affected directly by the virus. Think: in these difficult times, do you have the means to make someone’s day?
5. Loyalty with a twist.
Popular Indian restaurant Kricket recently had to close its doors but has since launched an initiative that benefits them and their loyal customers. They’ve introduced prepaid loyalty vouchers for customers, even adding an additional 20% to them if they commit to spending a certain amount. In a similar vein, the Regent’s Canal floating restaurant London Shell Co. has promised some exciting add-ons for any vouchers purchased during this tricky time, ranging from a free glass of bubbly to 20% off for life. Not only finding a way to make some much-needed revenue during a difficult commercial period these eateries have also been able to promise fans a wonderful experience as soon it’s over.
6. Make a difference.
It’s something we should all consider on a personal level as well as in a business strategy: how can you show that you care during this period of crisis? Some businesses are changing tack completely, choosing instead to team up and focus their collective efforts on helping the community. Recently, events company Something Special Studios joined up with Green Top Farms to support its local NYC community. Together, they’ve been preparing fresh and nutritious meals for those in need and donating them, via a group of non-profit partners, to vulnerable NYC neighbourhoods and residents. Take a look in your little black book: is there a fellow small business you could really make a difference with?
These brands, and the people within them, are a constant inspiration. They’re reminders to us all that, even in the most confusing, unpredictable, difficult conditions, there is a way forward.
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