In a time of unparalleled scarcity, restrictions, and fear, it’s assumed that an “everyone for themself” attitude would begin to prevail amongst businesses. As consumers’ disposable incomes have dwindled and countless businesses have had to close their storefronts, competition amongst those that are still surviving was assumed to be fierce. And yet, a surprising and inspiring trend has emerged: companies are helping one another.
In fact, there’s never been a better time to do so. According to a September estimate by Fortune, nearly 100,000 business establishments had to close their doors as a result of COVID-19 and the lockdowns. That number is threatening to rise as America copes with the new wave of COVID cases, with cities like Austin, Boston, Oakland, New Orleans, and Baltimore at the top of the list for most economically impacted.
What prevails throughout chaos and hardship is the power of union and working together, and many businesses have reallocated funds, efforts, or waived rules to ensure that they’re helping everyone stay afloat. Because, at the heart of it all, a thriving economy is the first and foremost goal. This goal pushes the need for business competition aside, and brings a spotlight onto what matters most. Inevitably, this has led to many win-wins for the businesses that have decided to help one another out.
Here are a few examples of how companies are helping one another.
1. They’re boosting each other’s visibility.
Because cash-strapped businesses can’t allocate a healthy portion of their finances to marketing, some businesses are getting creative on how to get exposure, and helping one another in the process. A popular New York City loyalty program called the “Good Hood Deal” features five different dishes (each from a different restaurant in Chinatown or the Lower East Side), and this year, they included brand new restaurant Saigon Social. Here’s the kicker, though: Saigon never got to open their doors because of the timing of the virus. So, Golden Diner (the ‘head restaurant’ of the Good Hood Deal) invited Saigon’s founder to join in to ensure her business dreams could stay afloat.
Finding ways to collaborate on a discount and cross-promote one another is a great idea that could benefit many businesses right now. Consider finding businesses like yours and extending the gesture. Or, consider how you and another business can impact the broader community. A great example of this is Dyson’s partnership with The Technology Partnership to create ventilators (called ‘CoVent’), in response to the national shortage. Companies are finding allyships that make sense – not for profit, but for the greater good.
2. They’re doing what they can to make sure businesses they work alongside are less affected.
OnBuy.com, the world’s fastest-growing marketplace, provided a lifeline for online retailers throughout the first and second UK lockdowns by staying open and facilitating the sale of all products through its website, while other marketplaces restricted sales of ‘non-essential’ product ranges. Not only could this move save hundreds – if not thousands – of businesses from financial ruin, but it means that consumers who are unable to access physical shops are still able to purchase non-essential and essential items alike. The marketplace is amping up their work too, having just invested over 5 million pounds into marketing for November and December. OnBuy went one step further to help its consumers and businesses alike by discounting every product on site for Black Friday and Cyber Monday out of its own pocket, which helped drive more sales for the independent retailers trading through the platform at no extra cost to them.
There’s a way to safely help out other businesses even with the lockdown measures in place. Larger businesses are also becoming generous with supporting small businesses, such as FedEx’s two-day shopping event, “Big Days of Small” or American Express’ financial incentive: cardholders received $10 in credit for every $5 spent at a small business. These generous ideas help everyone involved, and ensure that businesses that don’t have the cash cushion necessary to survive these hard times still have a fighting chance.
3. They’re putting funds towards other businesses.
In addition to incentivizing existing customer bases to purchase from small bases, some are going even further. For example, Rebel Nell is a socially-conscious business in Detroit that purchased gift cards from 15 local small businesses that they’ll give away on Instagram lives. This both puts cash in the hands of businesses that need it most and encourages Instagram Live views – another win-win!
These generous efforts have moved beyond financial assistance and into donations, too – such as Serta Simmons Bedding donating 10,000 mattresses to New York hospitals in March, or Canada Goose reimagining their manufacturing facilities to produce more scrubs and patient gowns.
These stories of businesses helping businesses show the best of humanity and urge consideration regarding what more we can be doing. Crises may spark the desire to stockpile supplies and focus on individual well-being, but it’s when we come together as a community – either as a small town or as an entire nation – that we face a real chance of getting through the pandemic and repairing.