As we consumers dramatically adjust our daily lives in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, businesses are also dramatically rethinking product innovation and customer experience. Plexiglas shields* installed at store checkouts, curbside pick-up from retailers and (incessant) video calls are now de-rigueur. DoorDash is one of the hottest employers in town, gyms are grappling with how to bring their members back safely and major league sports teams are reimagining the fan experience.
Here are some other Covid-inspired product innovations that caught our eye:
Get your Doritos by drone.
Wing, a Google subsidiary, launched its inaugural drone delivery service in Christiansburg, VA. Wing has partnered with Walgreens, Fed Ex and now several local businesses so quarantined residents of this small town in southwest Virginia can get all of their cravings fixed by having their snacks, toiletries and even their cold brew from the local coffee shop delivered to their lawn.
Why Christiansburg, VA for Wing’s first US-based trial, you ask? The company conducted its early research flights in partnership with Virginia Tech.
“Namaste”, from my dome.
LMNTS, a yoga studio in Toronto, set up 50 outdoor domes in which participants can take group yoga classes. The clear domes give you 110 square feet of private space – and they’re heated. Assuming you’re not claustrophobic, it’s a pretty innovative way to get your socially distanced downward dog on.
Drown out doorbells during your video calls.
For those of you whose doorbell rings during every Zoom call with your latest Amazon delivery (and your dog goes nuts) or for those who don’t want anyone to hear you uncorking your “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere” bottle of wine during your virtual staff meeting, Google has introduced a Google Meet noise cancelling feature – or, a “de-noiser” if you’re Swedish (hint, watch the video).
Rekindle your Krispy Kremes love affair.
Have you bought a donut from 7-11 recently? Those glistening Krispy Kremes in the (Covid-scary) self-serve case are now individually wrapped – a simple but brilliant solution to help you keep your secret donut fetish alive and well.
No matter what you crave, it’s clear that the pandemic will forever change the way we interact with retailers, restaurants and even our neighbors. While many companies have been severely impacted by the crisis, it will be interesting to watch those who are nimble enough to rethink the customer experience and repurpose existing products for new pandemic-friendly uses.
Check out this site for more Covid-inspired innovations.
*Fun fact: Plexiglas is manufactured by Röhm, a German conglomerate whose business was struggling until plastic shields became all the retail rage.
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