Did you know 2020 is only half-way over? Yes, we are only six months into this rollercoaster of a year (even though it has already felt like a decade). In these past six months we have seen more drastic change than some people will see in a lifetime. We all went from living a normal life to being put in an extreme timeout where we couldn’t go to work, see our friends, do any activity outside of the house, and had a looming threat that murder hornets were going to attack us. So yeah, it’s been weird to say the least. And, all of this change has not been easy on businesses. I mean when you have a restaurant, and people really aren’t supposed to be going out it can be pretty challenging to stay connected to customers. Same goes for entertainment and hospitality. So, what have brands learned during this year? Innovation is the key to success.
Innovation in Restaurants
I don’t know about you, but I personally love eating out. So I wasn’t thrilled when I found out I had to start eating all my meals in my house (although I did become a much better cook). Like most people I have been taking full advantage of the option to order in, and justifying it by saying I’m “stimulating the economy”. So as me and many others attempted to stimulate the economy, restaurants became overwhelmed with orders and many began to implement the concept of ghost kitchens. The use of ghost kitchens had already been growing in popularity pre-covid, but really took off when the pandemic hit. Due to the high demand for orders, ghost kitchens let restaurants fill delivery orders in other locations so they can fill the orders faster. When using a ghost kitchen, a restaurant will rent space in facilities like Cloud Kitchen or Kitchens United instead of opening additional kitchens which would be much more expensive. Both Applebee’s and Chipotle have begun to explore and implement ghost kitchens, and many other brands are following suit as ghost kitchens are expected to increase 42 percent this year.
As restaurants are beginning to reopen, we are also seeing many ways that mobile is being implemented to keep both staff and customers safe. Many restaurants have done away with traditional menus, and instead have placed a QR code on the table for customers to scan and view the menu on their phone. There has also been an increase in contactless payment in restaurants. Many people are encouraged to pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay if their phone has NFC capabilities that allow this. These new use cases for mobile are helping keep everyone safe who is choosing to dine in.
Introducing Virtual Events
It is no secret that we are all bored… I think everyone’s increased TikTok usage has proven that! So, businesses in the entertainment industry had to get very creative when thinking about how to keep the fun going. The solution? Virtual events! There are so many great examples of how brands have quickly adapted to the new circumstances and figured out how to hold events online, and make you feel like you are actually attending the event in person. From virtual concerts, to moving bars and clubs online, and incorporating augmented reality (AR) into events to give the effect that you are there in person, many brands have stepped up to keep the party going throughout 2020.
New Way to Grocery Shop
While grocery stores are essential, we still have seen multiple stores innovate to keep everyone safe and better serve customers. With the huge surge in demand, many stores had to reconfigure their space and optimize it for online orders. Whole Foods and Amazon are prime examples of how this can effectively be done. Whole Foods has created some “dark stores” in certain locations. This basically means they closed down the location and used it to help fulfill online orders. Once the store went dark, only employees could go in to collect orders and deliver them. In doing this, it actually made it possible for customers to order online and get their groceries quickly instead of having to order weeks in advance.
If we have learned anything this year it is that we never know what is going to happen next. No one could’ve predicted how 2020 would unfold, but brands across the world have shown us they can adapt and innovate even in challenging circumstances. Proving once and for all that innovation is the key to success.