Many small businesses across Australia have had to instantly change the way they service their customers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but there is a lingering trend which may permanently alter consumer behaviour: A shift towards supporting local businesses as a community.
One of the most immediate and hardest hit businesses were restaurants and pubs. Faced with little options, many offered takeaway meals at their doorstep, or scrambled to get their online ordering systems up and running. Uber Eats and other meal delivery services have obviously skyrocketed, but with very large service fees, many businesses were only using them to keep afloat, or in the worst cases just to keep losses to a minimum.
Luckily, this also presented an opportunity for local Melbourne startups OrderMate and HungryHungry to step in and help restaurants who otherwise had no online presence to start taking orders online without breaking the bank. Special shout-out to my local favourite pizza place Capitano for the huge effort to remain open.
Just grabbing this image is making me hungry.
People from all over the neighbourhood have lined up (with appropraite physical distancing!) to make sure the local butcher, grocer, deli, coffee shop, ice cream store and of course restaurants are able to stay alive. Hand made signs offer SMS ordering, heart felt notes are left on delivery orders. The comradery of a local community shows.
Even with many restaurants doing their best to remain open in some form, the flow on effects of reduced consumption hit the Food and Beverage industry hard as well. As a noted fan of beer, I've seen all sorts of efforts to offload current beer stock, including filling literally any container you can find with beer!
Many wholesalers however, have been stuck with large amounts of perishable goods, desperate to find customers. Luckily, this is where I've been able to step in myself, and help a local B2B Food Wholesaling app QuickB2B, pivot to a consumer facing app integrated with realtime credit card payments via Pinch (Hey that's me!).
This not only allowed existing B2B wholesalers to immediately start taking orders from consumers via their app, it had the added advantage of automating their bookkeeping via Xero, a huge relief during an already stressful time.
The fast pace at which many businesses had to change means that many solutions are cobbled together, and many new sales channels and revenue streams are only just finding their feet. Necessity however, seems to be driving some fascinating new opportunities for change. For example, the Stomping Ground brewery in Melbourne is offering a Golden Ticket, effectively $1000 cash now, for a future spend of $3000 once they re-open.
This is my kind of investment.
The fact that the top two tiers are already sold out shows that many local supporters are willing to chip in to help keep their communities up and running.
Whether it's doggy bag takeaway meals, subscription beer services or buying groceries directly from the source, new connections are being formed within communities and the opportunity to build new infrastructure and products to support these connections is there for the taking. We'll be there to help :)