Global Brands Offer Aid in the Pandemic

Thinking outside the box in a crisis turns retailers into forces for good

Perfume and hand sanitizer
Luxury brands converting their operations to make hand sanitizer are just one great example of the great global effort going on right now.

At Fluent Commerce we talk a lot about the importance of agility—the ability to pivot and scale to meet consumer needs. Though we usually focus on inventory and supply chains, today we want to give a shout out to brands around the world that are retooling their manufacturing to create much needed supplies, offering services that allow individuals to minimize personal contact, and even creating new jobs in an economy that is facing unforeseen challenges.

Do you know any examples of brands that are pivoting to help the global crisis? If so, please share them in the comments section.

Retooling for good

LVMH, the parent company of Christian Dior, Guerlain and Givenchy, demonstrated early leadership in combating the virus by donating about $2.3 million to the Chinese Red Cross Foundation. Recently, they’ve announced that they will use all the production facilities of their perfumes and cosmetics brands to produce large quantities of hand sanitizer, providing it to French health services for free.

Craft gin distilleries in Scotland are suspending the production of spirits to make hand sanitizers as well, joined by others in the US like Shine Distillery in Portland, which is making and giving away hand sanitizer.

Several automakers, including General Motors and Tesla, have expressed intent to retool their assembly lines to manufacture much-needed ventilators.

Sporting goods manufacturer Decathlon is working with an Italian research institute to redesign its line of Easybreath underwater masks to be used as emergency ventilator masks in hospitals.

Minimizing contact

Restaurants everywhere, including Starbucks, have switched to a to-go model, allowing customers to pick up food and beverages with payment done via app or over the phone to minimize contact.

Best Buy has followed suit. Their policy is for store customers to place orders online or through the app and then they’ll be delivered to your car curbside.

Payment vendor, OneDine is offering a free Tap & Pay Touchless Payment system to restaurants during the crisis.

Creating new jobs

Amazon, which has announced the creation of 100,000 new jobs to handle increased demand, has also created a $25M fund to help its delivery drivers and seasonal workers cope with coronavirus, as well as a $5M dollar fund to help small businesses in Seattle.

Like Amazon, UK supermarket chain Morrisons is creating 3,500 new jobs to expand its home delivery service. The retailer said it would be recruiting about 2,500 pickers and drivers, plus 1,000 staff in its distribution centers.

In Australia, Woolworths and Coles have announced plans to hire 20,000 and 5,000 workers respectively to staff up their supermarkets, supply chain and online operations as shoppers increasingly want to stay home and receive goods. And recently stood down Qantas employees are encouraged to apply.

Waiving commission fees

DoorDash and UberEats have waived commission fees for restaurants, and Postmates has launched a pilot program that temporarily waives commission fees for small businesses in the San Francisco Bay Area. Postmates and Instacart have launched ‘no-contact deliveries’ so customers have the option to receive their items without contact to minimize exposure.

Protecting those at risk

Many retailers, including the UK’s John Lewis and Target, Walmart and Walgreens in the US, have instituted ‘senior hours’. These are protected shopping hours for the elderly and vulnerable, usually in the morning before the general public is admitted.

In Hong Kong, Avo Insurance has launched a special coronavirus protection policy for free for local hospital staff to protect “from any unforeseen circumstances associated with the COVID-19 outbreak.”

Support your local businesses

In addition to these global responses, we can all think of examples of local businesses that are adapting to serve their customers in the face of the crisis. Now, more than ever, it’s important to support these efforts, so we encourage you to sign up for that virtual fitness class, buy a voucher for a haircut or a manicure, and  order your fresh food from the local grocer who is now doing deliveries.

At the end of the day, our collective ability to respond quickly and effectively to these events will determine how rapidly we can recover. At Fluent Commerce, we’re working with clients to adapt their product availability and fulfillment rules so all orders can be ‘Shipped from Store’.

I’d like to extend a huge thank you to all the businesses out there who are rallying around the world. We’ll get through this together!

By Graham Jackson

Apr 2, 2020