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How coronavirus is forcing businesses to think out-of-box

While cab aggregators and delivery platforms such as Uber, Swiggy and Zomato have partnered with FMCG companies and retailers to deliver essentials, gifting platforms such as Ferns N Petals have launched 'contactless' ways of sending messages to loved ones on their special days

twitter-logoAjita Shashidhar | April 14, 2020 | Updated 12:23 IST
How coronavirus is forcing businesses to think out-of-box

COVID-19 has forced several businesses to reinvent in order to stay afloat. While cab aggregators and delivery platforms such as Uber, Swiggy and Zomato have partnered with FMCG companies and retailers to deliver essentials, gifting platforms such as Ferns N Petals have launched 'contactless' ways of sending messages to loved ones on their special days. Mumbai-based Tara Mehta recently celebrated the 80th birthday of her mother who lives in Delhi by organising a virtual gig through Ferns N Petals. She got a guitarist to play three of her mother's favourite songs on her special day.

Pawan Gadia, CEO, Ferns N Petals says that at a time when his regular business of delivering cakes and flowers came to a halt and he was wondering how to stay afloat, a young team member came up with the idea of doing virtual gigs. "In the last three weeks we have been doing close to 500 (at Rs 400 per gig) gigs per day and we will surely look at this as a long-term business," says Gadia.

Ferns N Petals on a regular day delivers anywhere between 8,000-10,000 gifts, but Gadia, in the new normal post COVID-19, is looking at investing significantly in the virtual gifting business. "We are already doing personalised video messages and we will shortly be offering celebrity messages," he further adds.

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With multiplexes and theatres shutting down due to the lockdown, ticketing and live entertainment platform, BookMyShow's business came to a grinding halt. However, the company took advantage of the lockdown to offer three virtual properties, 'Theatre Live - The Stage Comes Home', 'Live From HQ' and '#LiveInYourLivingRoom'. "Our friends and partners like Meher Acharia Dar, Big Bad Wolf Entertainment, Represent and Instagram respectively have helped us curate and bring compelling artists all under one roof, through some of these offerings. These offerings bring elements of theatre such as dramatised readings and monologues, popular live music, stand-up comedy sessions and other performing art acts for our users that can be experienced from the safety of their homes," says Albert Almeida, COO, Live Entertainment, BookMyShow.

BookMyShow has also curated a virtual fitness series, '#StayFitIndiaChallenge' which brings together leading fitness experts across genres of yoga, pilates, strength and conditioning and zumba amongst others. "With these varied offerings, we are happy to be able to provide users a pleasant respite and a spot of safe and uncompromised entertainment in this time of lockdown. So far, we have listed over 30 events across categories that have entertained over 8,00,000 people," adds Almeida. Currently, the content is available free on the platform, but will it look at monetising the same soon? Almeida has a round-about answer to this question. "Early signs indicate that there is a vast audience demand across the country for such content offerings as this lockdown continues. We are already in talks with our partners in the content creation space as also several artists not just in India but also internationally in South East Asia and UAE to bring more of such offerings to consumers in these times," he explains.

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Online real estate company, NoBroker.com, offers a service called, NoBrokerHood, through which it offers security and facility management services in over 2,000 cities. Akhil Gupta, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer, NoBroker.com, says that its has started taking orders for essentials from the residents of the various residential societies it services on its NoBrokerHood platform. "We have partnered with BigBasket and ITC Foods for this service. We consolidate the orders and send to these companies, and they deliver a truckload of essential items at the gates of the residential complexes, which are delivered by the resident association's security staff to the respective homes," explains Gupta.

He says that NoBroker for the time-being is doing this free of cost, however, it may consider monetising in the long run. "As of now, we are doing this to help the residential complexes where we offer our services, but if we get a good revenue share deal, we may look at it as a long-term business."

Homestay aggregator, Airbnb has also reinvented its business model. The Airbnb web site has a segment, 'online experiences', which offers a host of services such as online tutorials on wine-making, fitness lessons by Olympic athletes, Mexican Salsa lessons and much more, for a fee. The new normal post COVID-19 is set to bring in a sea change in the way people will consume. No wonder companies are feeling the need to reinvent.

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