10 Examples of Small Businesses Creatively Changing their Products/Services Offerings for Coronavirus

While COVID-19 has disrupted many companies, some small businesses have creatively changed their products and services to adapt to the coronavirus pandemic. The purpose of this adaption is to comply with current social distancing guidelines while continuing to safely deliver products or services to their clientele. Adapting to change has also helped these companies sustain revenue and maintain their bottom line while prioritizing the health and safety of employees and customers. If you need quick inspiration on ways to remain in business during this pandemic, take a look at some of the ingenious methods companies now use to remain ahead of the game.

1. Necker’s Toyland: Freebies and FaceTime Shopping
In addition to guidelines for cleaning, disinfecting, and social distancing, many states have ordered the closure of all “non-essential” business locations during this pandemic. While this order is understandably upsetting, some brick-and-motor companies have learned to use technology to continue to deliver products and services. Necker’s Toyland, a toy store in Simsbury, Connecticut, now offers FaceTime shopping so that parents and children can virtually browse the store. After choosing the right toys to occupy children during quarantine, parents can select no-contact curbside pickup of their free samples and purchases.

2. McAlister Training: Online and On-Demand Fitness
New social-distancing guidelines have caused many fitness centers to shutter their doors. For McAlister Training in San Luis Obispo, California, the rules jump-started their plans to offer streaming and on-demand workouts online. The business has attracted customers by offering kid-friendly workouts to help children burn off any extra steam. Grownup workouts include live classes and pre-recorded lessons that adults can watch at a significant discount. Since delivery is still fair game, the company has also ramped up its online store to deliver fitness equipment and gear directly to their customers.

3. CookieGram: Switching to Sweet Treats
CookieGram is a Houston-based home business that specializes in decorative cookies for birthdays, weddings, and other special events. After obtaining national exposure on Food Network’s Christmas Cookie Challenge, founder Velma Perez felt confident that business would increase exponentially. With the unexpected coronavirus crisis, however, she soon discovered that novelty products like decorative cookies fell very low on people’s priority of needs. Baking supplies like flour, eggs, and butter became unavailable as people stocked up on groceries for the quarantine. And customers postponed or cancelled orders for events that will no longer take place due to temporary bans on large gatherings. To counteract this, CookieGram has waived any cancellation fees for customers who have found their party plans suddenly disrupted. Instead, the company offers do-it-yourself cookie decorating kits for families to pick up and enjoy as a fun project with their children at home.

4. Lacquerbar Nail Salon: Creative Self-Care Kits
Due to social distancing and the closure of “non-essential” businesses, the beauty services industry has taken a significant hit. Some nail salons, however, have turned to creative ways to keep their operations running. Bay Area-based nail salon Lacquerbar, for example, now sells at-home manicuring kits and online learning courses so that customers can engage in self-care during these troubling times. Other nail salons are selling virtual gift cards for online consultations in lieu of walk-in appointments. And instead of letting supplies collect dust on the shelf, other nail salons are selling the masks, gloves, hand sanitizers, and disinfectants they already have in stock in order to counteract any losses. Spas like Elina Organics have found that since customers are grateful to find products like sanitizer, they are more likely to connect on social media for other products and services.

5. The Market: A Journey to Joy with Virtual Visits
Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, an Illinois-based business called The Market: A Journey to Joy prided itself on selling the handmade goods of different artisans, craftsmen, and vendors in one location. Modeled in the style of an indoor farmer’s market, this brick-and-mortar business invited customers to slow down and select their favorite creative goods. Due to the closure of non-essential business, however, this company has found creative ways to sell its inventory. Within 48 hours, the company launched a simple website to display the items in stock. Potential customers can also the company’s Facebook to sign up for a virtual shopping hour. Customers can receive the one-on-one shopping experience directly from creators before ordering a product for pickup or delivery.

6. Checkered Past Winery: Dallas Pub Now Delivers
With new rules that have temporarily suspended dine-in services, gone are the days that customers can lounge in the local bar for beer and live music. As a popular establishment in Dallas County (one of the first jurisdictions in Texas to mandate COVID-19 restrictions), the Checkered Past Winery has experienced losses firsthand. However, this wine pub has come up with creative ways to lift consumer spirits. The pub and wine-tasting bar offers drinks-to-go with all wine 40% off the listed price. Customers can also order beer and wine-bottle delivery with discounts on tabs that contain six-packs or more.

7. WildFibers Yarn Shop: Virtual Lessons and Video Conferencing
Before the COVID-19 crisis, Mount Veron-based yarn shop WildFibers relied primarily on foot traffic and in-store visits from knitting enthusiasts. With foot-traffic all but eliminated, however, this business now offers a virtual shopping experience. Customers can text to receive photos and detailed descriptions of available inventory before picking up their supplies. The company also offers video conferencing with tutorials for making your own masks and more. Since many individuals have turned to hobbies like knitting to manage stress relief, the company has found a new market for knitting and crocheting services and supplies.

8. Tri-Dee Arts: Now Offering DIY Designs
In the absence of tourists and foot traffic, gift-shop owners have needed to brainstorm creative ways to sustain their bottom line. Tri-Dee Arts, a gift shop and art-supply store in Westchester County, New York, now sells custom packages to help households under quarantine. Customers can pick up paint-your-own pottery kits to embark on a new hobby or art supplies to soothe restless children. The company also offers curbside pickup to minimize any contact.

9. Metro Bis: Pioneering Partnerships and Grocery Gigs
While many restaurants now offer delivery, smaller diners and bistros may not be able to afford this service. Instead, these local diners have partnered with other companies to sustain their revenue. One such example is Metro Bis in Simsbury, Connecticut. Instead of incurring the expense of delivery (or trying to compete on crowded delivery apps), this family-owned diner obtained a contract to sell prepared meals at a local grocery store. This allows the business to maintain its commissary style while ensuring hot meals for customers.

10. Aman for Home: Addressing New Niches in Need
International businesses are also scrambling to adapt to COVID-19 changes. Before the outbreak, Dubai-based cleaning service Aman for Home offered janitorial and maid services exclusively to residences. With most residences under quarantine, however, the company needed a new niche. This cleaning service now offers sterilization and disinfect services to entryways of essential businesses. This allows the company to stay afloat as the company works on creating a booking website for future orders.

For most companies, the onslaught of COVID-19 has upended business as usual. Although such disruption is understandably frustrating, there are still ways to comply with social distancing and shelter-in-place rules. Depending on your business, consider implementing modern technology like live streaming and video conferencing. If you sell products, brainstorm creative packaging and offer curbside pickup. And whatever your business type, creating a strong online presence can reassure your customers that your business is only a click away from providing the products or services they need.

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