10 Inspiring Innovations
So much of 2020 has been unexpected. However unwelcome and hard this has all been, there is no denying it has fueled innovations in the quest for safety and ways to reboot the economy. We’ve researched and gathered a few of the most inspiring and creative business solutions out there that address the myriad of challenges we are facing during the pandemic. Most businesses have been forced to be agile and adapt in order to survive this crisis.
In this list, we’ve included a mixed bag of innovations that range from simple to highly complex solutions. We’ve even included a few that were already in the works before Covid-19 but have gained recognition during the crisis. We hope these ideas inspire us all to seek out even more innovations and opportunities so that all our businesses come out of this even stronger!
1. Go shopping down your favorite streets and malls (virtually!)
Want to stay safe and go street shopping? Streetify has made it possible for you to virtually walk up and down your favorite retail streets for free. Walk-in, look around, and get access to all the latest store discounts and promotions without leaving your bedroom. This neat idea was around pre-pandemic but just became more essential and relevant to the survival of our favorite brick and mortar shops. ?
2. Mobile checkout platforms: Thank You!
Self-checkout apps are one of those innovations that once you start using, you just can’t live without. Unsurprisingly, demand for these types of tools has skyrocketed. They make our life easier and safer. Want to get out of the store fast and with the least amount of contact? Want to skip the line? Just use an automated checkout app. This is yet another example on how the pandemic has pushed consumers to change their purchasing habits and adopt new technologies. Tools like Skip and FutureProof Retail, allow you to scan your items as you shop, pay from your phone, & leave the store without waiting in a line. ?
3. Retailers adapt with virtual fitting rooms to AR beauty mirrors
The race to hunt down and integrate new technologies that facilitate shopping in this new era is extraordinary. Retailers need to be agile and relook at every aspect of their operation. It is a matter of survival for the smaller shops and a race to grab the top spots for the big box retail giants. Retailers are quickly adopting augmented reality technologies such as virtual fitting rooms that help consumers try things on prior to the purchase to AR beauty mirrors. The global virtual fitting room (VFR) market size is projected to reach USD 10.00 billion by 2027. And AR beauty mirrors are no longer just for retail giants like Sephora anymore. Everyone wants and needs them now. The pandemic ignited new advancements in this fast-growing sector, along with more accessible solutions. ?
4. Stand back humans. Hello robots.
The robotic revolution is in full swing because of the pandemic. They are helping to fight the battle in everything from essential frontline work to cooking for us. Robots are the perfect way to ensure germs don’t spread and we stay as far away from each other as possible. As stores were being emptied out, inventory got harder and harder to manage. Aisle-scanning robots for automating inventory are being implemented at a fast pace throughout the globe. According to Badger Technologies, 4.1% of revenue is lost through out-of-stock items and 20% of out-of-stock items will remain unresolved for three days or more.
Then we’ve got other innovative robots doing everything from serving us dinner to KFC’s recent no contact robotic restaurant to Flippy, a robot hamburger flipper and the world’s first autonomous robotic kitchen assistant. The applications seem endless: robotic bartenders that serve contactless cocktails, robots delivering food to your door, and medical robots watching over COVID patients. Could this be the end of human service? ?
5. The transformation of parking lots
The pandemic has shown us that parking lots can become so much more that just asphalt and yellow lines. It can be a place for businesses and communities to make things happen, and even turn a big profit in some cases. We’ve seen how parking lots have been turned into drive-in theaters. Spots have been sold for as high as 25$ per car and Walmart is offering it for free! And this funeral home transformed their parking lot into the world’s first drive-in funeral theater.
Another innovative pivot was from Boxcar, they matched commuters with empty parking spots near train stations pre-pandemic. Then the pandemic caused their business to drop to zero. They quickly transformed their business model and offered parking lot grocery store pick-ups and business boomed again. Parking lots of being transformed into farmer’s markets and dining areas. What’s gonna happen this winter? Because we heart all these summer pivots. ?
6. Intelligent disinfection doors are popping up everywhere
Prepare to walk through “Cleanse Portals” from now on. What are those you ask? High-tech machines that resemble airport metal detectors, but instead act as “human sanitizing stations” placed in public doorways. These cleanse portals that go for a whopping 20 grand use UV lighting to kill germs and are popping up in everything from local bakeries to public buildings. Some of these intelligent disinfection doors also automatically check body temperature. We certainly need innovative solutions such as these to help businesses stay open as they create a safe place for their clients. Currently, their safety and efficacy are still controversial. ?
7. Fashion up with wristbands and necklaces that prevent face touching
Right from the get-go of the pandemic, we began seeing all sorts of health-related gadgets being created to help us prevent the spread of COVID-19. Immutech quickly came out with a wristband that stops you from touching your face by buzzing as your hand approaches your face. Before the pandemic, they were using their wristbands as a way to help people break bad habits such as hair pulling, nail-biting, and skin picking. Their technology was perfectly fitted to adapt to our growing need to keep our hands out of our eyes, nose, and mouth. Even NASA jumped in with a free open-source 3D printed pendant necklace that helps us avoid face touching. ?
8. Drones provide indoor disinfection
Drones have been effectively fighting the COVID-19 battle from day one. We’ve seen them being used to deliver critical supplies to sprayer drones that were deployed to disinfect large outdoor areas to surveillance cameras that kept an eye on people during the lockdown. The latest innovation is the world’s first indoor disinfection drone that can autonomously maneuver around small or confined spaces. Digital Aerolus designed a drone that can fly inside places and sterilize areas such as bathrooms, offices, and gyms. This practical tool is the perfect way to wipe down those high-risk public spaces that collect germs. ?
9. Sanitizing retail closets
There is no doubt that virtual shopping takes getting used to and it is truly not for everyone. But rest assured, there are still some innovations out there that are not just aimed at keeping us all far apart and out of our beloved stores. Innovative solutions such as Püre’s recently launched sanitation closets are an important step toward restoring consumer confidence when trying on clothes. The product uses UV light to sanitize and freshen garments within minutes, destroying 99.9% of pathogens. Inexpensive solutions like this are the perfect way to encourage clients to keep shopping in stores and keep us all safe between fittings! ?
10. Italy’s wine windows used during the plagues are making a comeback
As a response to the Black Death in the 1300s and the Italian Plague in the 1600s, Tuscans built these safe “wine windows” or “buchette del vino” as a way to keep serving the people without spreading germs. And now, they are making a comeback to serve things such as wine, gelato, and coffee. We are seeing a lot of wacky solutions out there these days, but this one is by far the cutest one and we just love it! It is also refreshing to see that not every solution needs to be brilliant and involve high-tech. So, when will we be getting teeny-tiny window service in North America? ❤️
Spot an innovative business solution in your region? Let us know and we’ll be happy to share it!