Any Other Business: 8 May 2020

Anna Thompson
Anna Thompson
Discover content team
3 min read
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This week’s AOB looks at Shopify’s new app, interaction-free deliveries, and the role a small fish is playing in Japan’s fight against COVID-19.

Shopify's Shop logo

Shoppers given a way to support local businesses

Shopify has launched a new app that will give smaller businesses a much-needed boost. Simply called “Shop”, the marketplace app allows customers in North America to find, buy and track purchases from local stores seamlessly, on a single platform. Traditionally, many independent SMEs have been left behind during consumers’ tendency to download and buy from a handful of native apps, but Shop gives these smaller businesses a place to grow. Users can follow their favorite brands to receive updates about new products and discounts, and the app’s “Shop Local” feature allows them to find and buy from local merchants. Crucially, the app’s model focuses on brands the shopper has already shown an interest in – there’s no way to buy higher placement in the app’s rankings, as on Amazon or Google: “This was not designed to be a discovery platform,” says Carl Rivera, GM at Shopify. “This is a way for brands to own and deepen their relationship with their customers.” 

If you are thinking of moving your business online, our Golden Rules of E-commerce will get you started.

Ramadan in a box

With millions of Muslims across the world still in lockdown, this year’s holy month of Ramadan is going to feel very different. To ease some of the pressure on families, UK-based food retailer Morrisons has launched a “Ramadan Essentials” Food Box. Costing £35, the box can be ordered online and contains ingredients to cook wholesome meals at home, including masala mix, halal chicken and dates – commonly eaten to break the fast after sunset.

Cleaning up deliveries

As “social distancing” becomes part of our everyday language, many brands are working to reassure safety-conscious consumers about the handling and delivery of products throughout their supply chains.

In the UK, where lockdown measures have prompted an increase in online shopping sales, packaging company D S Smith has designed a “stack, drop and go” solution to enable quick and socially distanced drop-offs. The packaging is easily assembled, stackable, and can be left safely on customers’ doorsteps, meaning no interaction is required between them and the delivery driver.   

In addition, the packaging is sustainable and can be fully recycled at home, a fact that will be particularly valued by Gen Yers and Zers – three-quarters of them say that sustainability is important to them, with 48% having abandoned a purchase because a brand didn’t fit with their eco values.

How green is your business? Learn about the benefits of switching to sustainable packaging here.

a picture of sushi bottles being sued for hand sanitiser

From soy sauce to sanitizer

In Japan, soy sauce bottles are proving an unlikely solution to a pandemic-related problem. The demand for hand sanitizer has caused a shortage of containers (rather than the gel itself). In response, Clear Electron, which produces sanitizer, has partnered with Ohishiya – makers of the iconic, fish-shaped soy sauce containers – to create an innovative solution. SafeHandFish is an initiative that repurposes the containers to hold sanitiser, which are then distributed free to restaurants and food delivery businesses. And as a nod to its new role, each fish bottle now has a blue cap to represent cleanliness.

a health mask with a visible area to show the mouth

The hard of hearing get heard

Masks may be becoming a normal part of our daily lives, but for the hearing impaired, they present challenges – blocking their ability to read lips and other facial cues. Fortunately, some brands and individuals are responding by creating more inclusive designs.

In America, student Ashley Lawrence has launched the DHH Project, making modified masks that include a transparent panel over the mouth, which she then distributes to the deaf and hard of hearing community. Elsewhere, ClearMask is busy making bespoke masks too. The company was inspired to make the products after its co-founder – who is herself deaf – was left feeling anxious during a visit to surgery where she was unable to communicate with the doctors and nurses. 

As the world adapts to “the new normal”, our E-commerce Corona Guide offers some top tips to help brands adapt.