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Welcome to the COVID Chronicles! In this series of blog posts, we’ll give you a guided tour of the landscape of pandemic-triggered digital transformation. 

Yes, crises are hard, but necessity is the mother of invention! The thing is, the most difficult and disruptive events also act as a creative catalyst for incredible creativity and innovation. A major societal challenge such as the current pandemic has unlocked opportunities that didn’t exist before or—at the very least—has forced us to skip a step or two in the digital transformation process. 

While the most extreme and wide-sweeping effects of the pandemic are temporary, some aspects are here to stay. Although it can be hard, now it’s a matter for businesses to find nuggets of opportunity and adapt to this new reality. One of the fundamental shifts will be the transition to eCommerce first. For businesses that have not already found a way to provide a digital offering, it’s time to do or die. Physical distancing has only served to whet the consumer appetite for convenience solutions and digital offerings in the future…

As we’re struggling to find our footing and chart a new course forward together, we wanted to share our observations on online business and ways to pivot business for future success. If you want to learn more about how your business should adapt your digital marketing plans in the wake of COVID-19, check out this post.

Now, it’s time to have a look at the most exciting and creative digital business pivots examples out there!

Deconstructed Fine Dining

After the outbreak forced fine dining restaurants to close their dining rooms, some have found ways to re-invent themselves. Unlike other, more casual dining options, fine dining has not traditionally worked well as take-out. The atmosphere, the food presentation, and the services were all factors that played into the experience. Still, gourmet restaurants have found ways to adapt their services. 

1. Take-Out-Friendly Gourmet Food

Some restaurants such as the Seattle restaurant Canlis have tweaked their menu to be more suitable for delivery. Canlis now offers contactless food delivery, where you can accompany your meal with live-streamed music from their iconic piano.

2. Doomsday Dinner Parties

The NYC’s Arden has upped the ante and rebranded their food offering to Ardyn at Home. Now, customers can order a ‘Doomsday Dinnerparty’, that’s like an upscale meal kit. To get as close as possible to the dining room experience, the 7-course meals come ready to assemble, heat, and plate, and include YouTube instructions, playlists, and options to add on wine pairings and bottled cocktails. As a unique, quirky twist, the doomsday dinners are delivered by tuxedo-clad bunnies!

3. Raw Steakhouse Experience

Instead of jumping on the take-out bandwagon, Chicago-based El Che Steakhouse has opted to launch an online pop-up butcher shop. Customers can order the same USDA choice beef that the restaurant would normally serve as raw cuts.

Gyms and Fitness Studios Flex Their Digital Offerings

Gyms and fitness studios are also finding innovative ways to provide ways to combat the quarantine15 and keep their community fit and engaged through the outbreak. 

4. Social Media Workouts

Studios such as FITSQR, Paradigm Fitness, and CorFit have taken to their social media channels to keep providing their customers with a daily fitness fix. 

5. Virtual Fitness Classes

Barre Body Studio, a fitness studio in Calgary, Alberta has started offering a subscription service with a variety of different workouts on-demand. Other gyms such as the boxing studio Undrcard with physical locations in Calgary and Toronto have launched free, live interactive classes.

6. A Virtual Spin on Rental Services

The BC-based spin studio chain SPINCO is doing yet another clever twist to the virtual fitness class. In addition to live-streaming their classes, SPINCO also offers at-home spin bike rentals. A great way to add a revenue stream from an unused resource! 

Get the Job Done… Remotely

7. IBM Think Digital

IBM appears to have found a solution to the pandemic dilemma: how to transform your event from a superspreader event to a super-inspirational event? The tech industry conference IBM Think has moved to a digital conference in May 2020. Instead of a 30,000 participant event in the Bay Area, the conference will now be held via a series of live Q&As, virtual labs and certifications, and live and on-demand sessions.  

8. Network From Home

Rockstar Connect, a US networking event provider, has started offering virtual networking to help set up people for success during and after the shutdown. Powered by Hio Social, professionals can build their network, interact, and get inspired by speakers – all for free! 

9. Goat 2 Meetings

One of the more quirky business services that have emerged is Goat 2 Meetings: an animal sanctuary in California that has started offering up the services of their farm animals to liven up conference calls and virtual meetings. Since mid-March, Sweet Farm kicked off a Goat 2 Meeting service where their llamas, goats, pigs, turkeys, and other farm animals can make a virtual cameo appearance for a fee along with free, virtual field trips for schools and non-profit organizations. 

Escape the Monotony of Quarantine

10. Mail-Order Escape Rooms

Mobile Escape has switched from offering mobile escape room experiences across Alberta to an online business, delivering escape room puzzles via mail. In a service dubbed Escape Mail, the escape room provider now sends out their tabletop escape games around the world, including a monthly subscription service. The games include physical, online, and multimedia components where players can recreate an immersive escape room experience in their living room. 

11. Living Room Rollercoaster

Lots of museums and attractions have started offering virtual tours and experiences, including Canada’s Wonderland in Toronto. On their YouTube channel, virtual guests can take a POV ride on their many different rollercoasters and rides. 

12. Virtual Tourism

AirBnB has also pivoted their experiences platform to offering online experiences. Hosts from every corner of the world provide online activities such as virtual tours, cooking classes, music lessons, lectures, and much more.

Online Shopping

 13. Virtual, Personal Shopping

A Vancouver luxury fashion boutique Mine & Yours has started offering virtual personal shopping appointments. Customers start by filling out a questionnaire with their fashion preferences and sizes. Via a video call, customers are then presented with pre-selected products and get a walk through the store. 

14. From Restaurant to Grocery Delivery

With so many people quarantined or unable to go grocery shopping, online grocery delivery went from a nice-to-have to a need-to-have overnight. The unprecedented demand for grocery delivery services turned it into a completely overwhelmed lifeline. 

Many restaurants have stepped up to the plate and started providing additional channels for this essential service. In Canada, the restaurant chain Earls has pivoted its online platform from takeout to a full suite of meal kits, take out, and a grocery delivery service with daily home essentials. Similarly, the Italian food hall restaurant chain Eataly has shifted gears and now offers grocery and wine deliveries. 

15. Experience Wineries Online

For some people, upping their consumption of wine has been a source of sanity during the outbreak. Why not enjoy a glass of wine in style with virtual wine tastings by wineries in British Columbia? Wineries such as Okanagan Crush Pad have launched virtual wine tasting events where participants buy a wine bundle and get invited to a video conference with a wine expert from the winery. 

Keep The Digital Momentum Going

There’s no shortage of creative ways businesses are shifting gears and offering value to their customers during the pandemic. Honestly, we think it’s incredibly inspiring to see businesses of all shapes and sizes rising to the challenge and finding ways to keep going. 

All these new product offerings will remain long after physical distancing is just a distant memory? After all, providing the convenience and ease of online product offerings is a great way to expand the customer base far beyond the physical constraints of in-store services. 

Now that consumers have been forced to explore online shopping, many will probably want to keep using those services going forward. With that in mind, if your business hasn’t started a digital strategy yet, now is the time!

Here at Konstruct, we can help your business with a digital transformation that sets you up for long-term success. Ready to seize the opportunity of creative online business ideas? Contact us today for a free consultation.

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Katrine Sorensen

Digital Strategist

With a background in communications, Katrine focuses on content creation and harnessing the power of words towards a digital marketing strategy. She is on an ongoing mission to learn more about how to engage an audience via text and keeps a keen eye on emerging trends in digital marketing.