How These Brands Are Weathering Coronavirus
As small businesses continue to be negatively impacted from forced temporary closures and lack of foot traffic, e-commerce brands are creating new revenue streams to supplement lost sales and cater to customers working from home.
Restaurants take a hit
A plethora of accounts demonstrate how damaging the virus has been, especially in the hospitality industry: Delores Tronco-DePierro told CNBC that she’s indefinitely closed her restaurant doors and laid off of her 33-person staff; Maxine Turner’s catering business (which already runs on 3 percent margins) has had to dismiss 80 percent of her employees, according to POLITICO; and Breckenridge, CA-based Wynkoop Restaurant Group has furloughed about 500 workers, as reported by Colorado Public Radio.
“I can’t see that the majority of restaurant businesses will survive and be able to open again in eight weeks or 10 weeks or whatever it is without some form of financial relief or forbearance from the state.”
- Lee Driscoll, Wynkoop Restaurant Group co-owner
While local restaurants can introduce carry-out and delivery offerings, direct-to-consumer brands whose products may not be at the forefront of consumers’ minds are figuring out how to augment their current lines to the needs of their target buyers.
Dirty Lemon and its parent company, Iris Nova, have used its text-based ordering platform to continue delivering beverages amid retail shutdowns. The business was started in 2015 and built an infrastructure to pioneer “conversational commerce.” Customers can text numbers assigned to its brands to create an order; they’re currently offering free next-day delivery.
Founder Zak Normandin told The Drum “Thankfully, we’ve invested heavily in infrastructure that supports that — we now have the technology platform that allows customers to place orders very quickly and provides very fast deliveries.” While its core business is still running, many of Iris Nova’s customers (which include restaurants and cafes) have been forced to shut down temporarily, so the company is arranging ways to support them via delivery services.
The “first closed-loop clothing brand,” which built a model that allows customers to purchase one piece of clothing upfront and then swap it out for a brand-new garment at a lower rate, is using its supply chain to produce face masks at a time when they’re facing an extreme shortage.
For every purchase, For Days is able to make 10 masks. They’re sending masks all over the country and are working with Los Angeles to direct them to the most-needed areas around the city.
The brand known for its popular wool sneaker is hoping to support healthcare workers with a buy-one-give-one model. The company is offering “donation bundles” that allow customers to purchase a pair at 1.5x the normal price with an additional pair being given to a healthcare professional.
At the time of writing, Allbirds has dispersed $500K worth of shoes to the community.
hims & hers
Founded in 2017 by Andrew Dudum as a way to leverage the internet to make health-and-wellness care more accessible, hims & hers recently introduced telehealth primary care visits and free COVID-19 screenings. The virtual medical screenings cost $39 and allow patients to consult with U.S.-licensed healthcare providers.
The company was valued at $1 billion in a $100 million fundraising round in January 2019.
As testings increase and Congress reaches a $2 trillion stimulus bill, the coming weeks will reveal whether or not business will resume as usual. Direct-to-consumer brands will continue pivoting to save sales and help communities, although most face uncertainty as the focus remains on tackling the health crisis.