This evening, after getting caught up with The Masked Singer (yes, I know, but what you going to do?), I watched Saturday Night Live Home Edition.
It was better than I thought it would be! The cast was creative in garnering props from around their homes (RGB skit was the brilliant in this aspect; the Zoom skit was the funniest), there was still a musical guest, host was Tom Hanks, and there was still the news segment. Several of the solo skits, especially with the featured people, fell flat, but if SNL does another home edition, I’ll watch.
This was an example of adjusting to the current climate and times we are living through.
If a business is not willing and able to adjust, and adjust quickly to what is happening, they are not going to survive as we all hunker down at home. Restaurants have been the best at pivoting, but they’ve also had years of doing take out or to go orders; the ones that didn’t offer these services before, and didn’t figure out how to adapt have closed.
Grub Hub (not recommended as the restaurants and drivers through Grub Hub have not learned timing or how to communicate well, at least here where I live) and Door Dash (highly recommended by a friend, still need to try them), adapted quickly as well by offering no contact deliveries.
Our local, somewhat independent, book store, Half-Priced Books, adjusted at first by remaining open in such a way you called for a book, then drove by to pick it up—no in-store shopping. They have since stopped doing even that, now only accepting orders to be shipped to you. Not sure why they changed, but I think stopping the curbside pick-up may hurt them in the long run.
A couple local businesses have adapted to not being able to have a storefront creatively. A cupcake store and a donut shop are now offering do-it-yourself kits. Each will sell you a kit containing donuts or cupcakes, a couple of icings, and some sprinkles to enable us to decorate in our own way. The kits could come in might handy as a project to do with small children while staying at home. The cupcake store also switched to on-demand ordering.
Lowe’s is offering (they may have done this all along and we just didn’t know), where one can go around, take pictures or product numbers, go pay and then drive around for someone to load your car with your order from the garden center. If you already have the product list, you wouldn’t even have to walk around. All this helps one have minimal time in store, minimal contact with shoppers and staff, and minimal contact with product.
Small businesses always have the advantage in this area of shift and pivot. They don’t have to go through the chain of command or multiple committee meetings to make a change. Big business does because of the culture and climate they created for themselves.
An example of this, as discussed recently with some family members is toilet paper. Toilet paper (TP) is still out-of-stock everywhere from what one can tell. It is said the Proctor & Gamble plants, along with other household toilet paper manufacturers are producing around the clock and still can’t keep up with demand—for some reason they seem to be refusing to retool or add production lines/equipment to help the nation, and their customers, in our time of need.
However, the big industrial toilet paper plants are way overstocked, or closed, because we aren’t in our offices, shopping, flying or using the restroom anywhere but at home. These manufacturers seem to be just waiting out the storm. They don’t seem willing to be creative in selling their product. People are desperate for TP, even poor thin TP; people would just about buy any TP at this point. Why hasn’t someone gotten creative to make a temporary dispenser to sell as part of the package for these larger rolls that could be placed on the floor of a household bathroom? Would it be pretty? No, but no one is having guests over right now anyway. Would it be what we would normally want in our homes? No, but necessity would outweigh that factor pretty quickly. Would it be a temporary fix? Probably, but they would be earning money, have people working, and possibly be creating a side business as some people might choose price point over quality in the long-term. Doesn’t seem like rocket science to me, just a lack of creativity.
Regardless, it has been fascinating to see how businesses adapt to a new and unforeseen world event. Those who have adapted well will still be here in the end. I’m curious to see which business those will be, and will we mourn those that didn’t have the will to adapt.
What are some ways your local businesses have adapted?
P.S.—Remember to support those businesses you want to be able to patronize after the pandemic.