Any Other Business: 10 July 2020

Anna Thompson
Anna Thompson
Discover content team
3 min read
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This week’s AOB explores virtual personal shopping, the UK’s boom in e-commerce businesses, and how Chipotle is helping farmers discover new revenue opportunities online.

Anti-racism collective asks brands to step up

With the Black Lives Matter movement in the spotlight, many brands such as Sephora1 have made a commitment to do their part for the cause. Now, a new collective has been formed to further support black creatives working behind the scenes in the fashion and entertainment industries.

Founded by a group of leading stylists and designers, the Black Fashion & Beauty Collective2 aims to promote diversity by providing resources to support career advancement and equal pay for black employees. It will also invite brands to consider their accountability by signing up to its ‘Quality Index Score’ initiative, which asks them to share internal information about employee representation. The results will be published annually.

Board member Jason Bolden hopes the collective will break down the systemic racism embedded in the industries. “It’s us being able to own our blackness and also let people know we’ve had enough and this is what it is going to look like going forward,” he said3.

Fancy a (virtual) pint?

There seems to be no end to the imaginative ways traditionally-offline businesses have digitalized to survive during the pandemic. Beer fans in Denmark can now support their local bars through Carlsberg’s ‘Adopt a Keg’ scheme4, which allows them to fill up a virtual keg online in exchange for a real pint once lockdown is lifted. Customers need to buy a real bottle or can in store first to get a scannable code which starts filling up their online keg; four beers equate to a full keg, and each keg can be exchanged for two pints once bars reopen. In the 48 hours after launching, over 2,000 virtual kegs were created, and to date, 600 bars have signed up to participate.

In-store shopping – from your couch

Sportswear brand Under Armour5 has launched its e-commerce website in South Africa – with some interesting extras to mitigate challenges posed by current store closures. Customers can book a ‘virtual walkthrough’ with a sales specialist who will show them around their favorite Under Armour store over Zoom6 and help them pick out items to be delivered to them at home. And for customers who really want the VIP treatment, there is the option to book out the whole store for a private browsing session in person.  

Though South Africa’s adoption of e-commerce has been a slow process, industry forecasts predict that it is experiencing a turning point, with a projected annual growth rate of 15% through 20217. South African consumers are open to cross-border purchasing, too – 27% of current online purchases are from US sellers, and 14% from Europe8 – exciting figures your e-commerce business should be paying attention to. Learn more about the opportunities this burgeoning economy holds in our exclusive South Africa Country Guide.

Farmers head online

In the US, Chipotle9 is giving some of its suppliers a guiding hand into the e-commerce sector with the launch of the Chipotle Virtual Farmers’ Market10. The initiative, which will be run on Shopify’s11 platform, will allow farmers within the fast food group’s supply chain to sell meat, dairy and other items to customers across the country, making it just one of many businesses who have adopted a direct-to-consumer model during the pandemic.

The new marketplace is part of Chipotle’s commitment to sustainable farming practices and hopes to give the suppliers extra revenue to subsidize what has been lost during restaurants’ closures. Chipotle is assisting in the development of each supplier’s site, as well as covering the hosting fees on Shopify for the next two years.

UK entrepreneurs seize their opportunity

New research from software company Growth Intelligence12 has shed light on the scale of the growth of e-commerce during the pandemic. Over 85,000 UK businesses launched online stores or joined online marketplaces in the four months to July13, as entrepreneurial sellers sought to benefit from consumers’ new shopping behaviors.

The analysis, which used artificial intelligence to read and interpret millions of UK business websites, found that of the new ventures, the most common type was fashion and apparel, followed by manufacturing, and food and drink.

Global lockdown has nudged even some of the most unlikely businesses online – discover some of the more creative transformations in our exclusive look at the rise of experiential e-commerce.

1 – Sephora

2 & 3 – Canvas8, July 2020

4 – Adopt a Keg

5 – Under Armour

6 – Zoom

7 & 8 – Export.gov, July 2019

9 – Chipotle

10 – Virtual Farmers’ Market, PR Newswire, June 2020

11 – Shopify  

12 – Growth Intelligence

13 – UKTN, July 2020