How Businesses Adapt Amid COVID-19

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By Liz Slocum Jensen May 15, 2020

I’m in Week 9 of Shelter in Place in San Francisco. Since Day 1 inside, I’ve considered how the world will be different as I watch businesses pivot to different models in order to survive. In a matter of weeks, these business had to re-invent themselves under such duress.

Changing Supply Chain

So how do you pivot when more than 80% of your B2B business suddenly closes? Eater had a list of farmers that primarily supplied restaurants and had to pivot to selling direct to consumer. They started selling to customers. For Martin Bournhonesque, chef’s found his farm via word of mouth. He didn’t even have a website until he had to offer a CSA box. That’s Digital Transformation!

Farmgirl Flowers’ situation seems to be changing weekly. CEO, Christina Stembel has been posting insights into how she’s had to hustle since March, when 90% of her orders came out of her San Francisco facility. At first, she opened 2 fulfillment and 2 distribution centers in 5 weeks. Then she gave insights into what it was like to apply for a small business to apply - and get denied - a PPP loan. Finally, she announced in mid-May that she is permanently closing her San Francisco facility. This is a glimpse into how businesses will flee San Francisco this year. 

Even Returns Management had to change as retailers like Nordstromrack and JCrew had to extend their returns windows for consumers. 

Changing Manufacturing

I respect how distilleries, like Saint George Spirit, have contributed to the cause by changing up their production lines to make hand sanitizer to get to hospitals and frontline workers. I’ve bought Hanson of Sonoma. Bendt Distillery out of Texas is a fun story as Mark Cuban was one of three generous donors of one of their production sprints.

Making Services Free 

NTC (Nike Training Club)  and Peloton are offering free workouts via their apps.

Are these changes temporary? Since the beginning, I’ve heard that this will be a V-shaped recovery, but some of these changes seem like lasting pivots. It will change the faces of our towns and storefronts for a long time.