We’re living in a time when the new normal feels like we’re in The Upside Down from Stranger Things. We are all asking how long this new normal will last and what’s coming next? It’s times like these, though, when we’re reminded that nothing matters more than humanity banding together and strategizing to stay strong. Reliant remains closely banded to its customers right now, providing our services and supporting our partnerships. We’re inspired by the innovative ideas rolling out on a daily basis, so it’s our hope in sharing this content that you will embrace with us the humanity and kindness illuminating from our current crisis. Here are 5 operational strategies we found inspiring across the retail and restaurant industries:

 

Restaurant to Grocery Concept

In NYC, the nation’s most hard-hit region, restaurants from Brooklyn to Manhattan  are trying new strategies to keep the till ringing. New York is a city where local restaurants are a coveted destination, but our small mom-and-pop style lounges, cafés, and eateries need consumers in seats to stay afloat. In a time when that’s not possible, strategy and the community’s support is everything. For those restaurants struggling to keep the lights on, consider turning your food and merchandise into a market. Below are a couple great examples, both locally and nationally.

Frisch’s Big Boy Restaurants is using its own supply chain to sell essential products in addition to its food.

Café Fiorello, in New York City’s Upper West Side, has reopened its café as a gourmet food and wine market. Who doesn’t need some good wine and antipasto right now?

Guerilla Tacos in Los Angeles created an impromptu emergency taco kit sold online for $150/kit to help cover the employees’ salaries and health insurance. Included in the kit is 10 pounds of meat and taco supplies, with a side of eggs and toilet paper. The kit is a nod to supplies that can be hard to come by at grocery stores during the coronavirus pandemic, reports insider.com.

 

Remaining Social, Virtually

If there’s one unifying place we can all gather safely without the need for a hazmat suit, it’s social media. It’s become a safe haven for all of us, affected by the virus or not. Linked In opened a few of its premium membership courses for those who do not have a premium account, and it’s become a popular “venue” for physical events now turning virtual.

Showing just how powerful social media is , #thegreatamericantakeout, a social campaign birthed and carried out in only a few days, made its rounds across social platforms, Linked In & Twitter being the most influential. The campaign asked the public to order at least one take out meal during the day on March 24th to support the restaurants locally that are currently suffering. The results aren’t in yet to show how successful the campaign proved, but it received an overflow of positive feedback.

All across social, companies are banding together to lift spirits and combat loneliness. NRF reports that Chipotle is hosting daily “Chipotle Together” virtual lunchtime hangouts on Zoom with celebrity guests like Colton Underwood of “The Bachelor,” giving participants the chance to chat and ask questions.

Neighborhood Goods is using its website to post memes, positive stories, in-home exercise and cooking classes, playlist and podcast recommendations, keeping communication open and upbeat with customers. These are only a couple great examples of what so many companies are doing to help unify the public.

 

High-Alert Hiring

In light of recent mass lay-offs across the hospitality industry, Amazon opened up 100,000 new full- and part-time roles across the U.S. in its fulfillment centers and delivery network. The company also announced a pay increase through the end of April for employees.

Costco, Dollar General and several grocery stores across the country introduced special hours for vulnerable shoppers, and Dollar General, CVS and other essential retailers announced widespread hiring efforts.

The need for grocery delivery has been the strongest it’s ever been in recent history, according to a report from Grocery Dive. “Not only are consumers ordering groceries for themselves (…) but they’re also ordering for their older relatives, neighbors and friends who may be new to the platform,” said CEO Apporva Mehta of Instacart. Because of this, Instacart opened 300,000 spots for new shoppers.

 

Manufacturing Facilities Repurposed

From NRF’s 6 ways retailers are helping communities during COVID-19:

To reduce the spread of coronavirus, consumers have rushed to purchase household cleaning and medical supplies in large quantities, resulting in massive shortages. To bolster supply and keep shelves stocked, some retailers are repurposing their manufacturing facilities to produce items like hand sanitizer and face masks.

LVMH is converting its French cosmetics factories from perfume to hand sanitizer production for distribution to local hospitals. U.S. distilleries from Oregon to Pennsylvania are giving away their own alcohol-based solutions.

Clothing retail and manufacturer Los Angeles Apparel has offered up its workforce and facilities to create masks and other medical products for government agencies.

 

Gift Card Campaigns

From coast to coast, purchasing a gift card at your favorite local spot, retailer, brand or national chain restaurant (which are also beginning to suffer) is the best way to support the restaurants and retailers during a time of closures. While some are partnering with local charities that help feed the immunocompromised in hard-hit areas, all these businesses  need consumer support. Whatever amount you can spend with your local restaurants and favorite retailers will go a long way to recovery.  Here are a few notable campaigns surrounding gift card transactions:

Locally, in partnership with New York City Meals on Wheels, Altamarea Group is providing gift cards for purchase to help their restaurants stay afloat while also feeding New York City’s homebound, at-risk population by donating a portion of each sale.

In San Francisco, the second largest impacted region in the US, Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger and his wife Kaitlyn launched SaveOurFaves, which techcrunch.com reports is a directory of Bay Area restaurants selling gift certificates to offset lost income amidst “shelter in place” orders across the region. “Users can search for restaurants or browse by neighborhood, and then click through to buy gift certificates straight from the eateries with no added fee from SaveOurFaves,” the blog reports.