A problem is simply an unrealized solution. - A. Bernadette

According to The School of Life, study human unhappiness to find your next business idea.
 
If you can't identify a problem you are trying to solve within your company, you are a part of the problem.
Sustainable thinking teaching us without considering the triple bottom line -- people, planet, profit, as your stakeholders and treating reduce, reuse, recycle as key parts to your policies and procedures your living in the past.
I invite you to check out the below ideas, make them better, and keep questioning your ethics as you go forth.



Will we ever be able to try clothes on in a store again? Will customers feel comfortable buying secondhand clothing?


Consumer behavior is inevitably changing as digital experiences become the norm during the COVID 19 pandemic. Our physical shopping expectations are also shifting as safety, digital autonomy, and omnichannel distribution standards continue to rise. What will retail look like in 6 months? We crave human connection and social interactions, however, how do we achieve this in a store setting? Remember your last shopping experience before the pandemic? Was it comfortable? Did you feel rushed? Become irritated if the line was too long? We certainly wouldn’t have been okay with waiting on a line that circled around the outside of the store. We don’t expect to go back to the way things were because of the digital adaptations that have occurred in the past few months. Some fun facts from Retail Drive: 24.6% of bridge millennials, 23.8% of millennials, and 17% of Gen Z consumers have shifted some routines to digital channels and plan to maintain those changes even after the pandemic. Gen X leads the way, with 26% of them saying the same. PYMNTS.com's findings indicate some digital behaviors differ based on income. Consumers who earn less than $50,000 were most likely to not shift their routines online, with 38% indicating they had made no shifts, while 34% of consumers who earn between $50,000 and $100,000 have moved routines online and plan to maintain all of their digital habits after the pandemic. For consumers earning more than $100,000, 46% said they shifted activities online and plan to maintain some of those behaviors after the pandemic ends, and 38% of the same group plan to maintain all of their shifted behaviors post-pandemic.


In Austin, TX customers at Neiman Marcus are shadowed by sales associates who handle the items for you. Not the ideal setting for an experience where touch is one of the main sensations. There seems to be no hygiene protocol accepted by the retail industry. A retail associate in Ohio shared her job has shifted to mostly cleaning dressing rooms and steaming clothes with a cleaning agent which have been tried on by customers. Maybe UV light will have to be an element of service to make customers feel more confident about any COVID-19 doubts. No matter the solution, the science is still out on how effective these measures are to fight to COVID-19 but for the retailer it’s less about physical health and more about mental health, keeping the customers feeling comfortable and at ease, hoping to bring back confidence. Our behaviors have become more digital and further change is inevitable.


We imagined what retail will look like in the future, what major shifts will occur, and possible scalable solutions.


The problem:

Many retailers have been dependent on a system that was solely designed for a brick and mortar structure which has been lacking in bringing new customers through their doors even before the pandemic. The pandemic amplified a foot traffic problem that had been declining for the past 5 years. We are in the 4th industrial revolution, it is a great time to embrace this moment to advance; be open to change, adapt, and evolve. From a former retail employer perspective, maybe executives should invest more time with sales associates for answers followed by data. Sales associates have the answers to so many problems CEO’s face. For retailers to survive they will have to start listening more, especially with those that are at the front line with the customer/consumer. Sales associates hold a major key to the understanding of the customer’s needs and wants. As states reopen, close, and reopen again brands can not rely on local governments to create safe spaces. It is up to businesses to pay attention to consumer behavior to strategize a new road map.

The answer:

Many retailers are rushing to gain an online presence on a platform that hasn’t evolved much since the invention of eCommerce but has seen a significant increase since the pandemic started. As of April 21, eComm statistics show an impressive 146% growth in all online retail orders. Although online seems to be the answer to keep consumerism going, shopping is more than a transaction, it is a way to reconnect with life. Mixing offline and online experiences are the key to creating a successful and safe shopping experience.


The solution:

It is time to integrate online and offline with tech and fashion integrations. We believe it is a waste of time thinking we will get back to “normal” and are losing time and missing opportunities. After all, we learn 10x more during a crisis. Exciting times to be creative, learn, and put into action.

Traditionally a physical store is 70% floor space, 10% dressing rooming, and if you are lucky in NYC 20% stockroom. We purposely flipped these figures. 70% stockroom, 20% dressing room, and 10% floor or check out space. What would this look like in practice? Well, let's walk you through it.

Step 1: Fill the virtual cart. It all starts before entering the physical store. Pre-trip preparation by filling up the shopping cart with different styles and sizes.

Step 2: Select an appointment to reserve a dressing room. Even before this "new normal," whatever that means, we lived by our Google Calendar. If it didn't appear on the calendar, it didn't exist. Scheduling a store visit would provide confidence standing on line, get too close to others, and feeling rushed wouldn't be an issue.

Step 3: Enter the store. There is an entrance to the left of the store and an exit to the right of the store. Upon entry, a tablet is available to check-in and assign a dressing room. Arrows mark the direction to the dressing room.

Step 4: To the right, a familiar conveyer belt, similar to a dry cleaners, whirls clothing around. This deposits the items selected prior to arrival into the dressing room.

Step 5: The dressing room time limit is based on the number of items placed in the cart. The room is outfitted with a magic mirror that allows logging into social media, taking filtered shots, and receiving feedback from followers (no need to take out your phone).

Step 6: Items to be purchased are taken out of the dressing room. The exit is to the left towards the check out area.

Step 7: Self-checkout area is the final step before heading to the exit.

Behind the scenes, store employees place items in the dressing room, remove items after try-on, and sanitize rooms between clients. Clothing is passed through a UV light to disinfect. A fee is collected to reserve the dressing room that will be subtracted from the final purchase. Options to have a stylist select items for "recommended styles" sessions will be available.


Collaborating Writer: Isabella Montoya is the founder of Paz Lifestyle and Fair Trade Advocate.


Resources:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/louiscolumbus/2020/04/28/how-covid-19-is-transforming-e-commerce/#2e238ae53544

https://www.bitreel.com/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI5OSJxfPp6QIVhMDACh1IugFWEAMYASAAEgJ-kvD_BwE

https://www.retaildive.com/news/about-a-third-of-consumers-are-shopping-at-pre-covid-19-levels-theyre-jus/579885/


Images: https://sc01.alicdn.com/kf/HTB1dNwnGFXXXXb2XXXXq6xXFXXXH/201874021/HTB1dNwnGFXXXXb2XXXXq6xXFXXXH.jpg

https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/1246/6441/files/Untitled_design_1_1d6e1023-36e5-47e0-b9a1-4681629ca139.png?format=jpg&quality=90&v=1519152895


Updated: Jul 3



Whether you are running away from the crowds due to the pandemic or moving towards them to protest we have an idea for you.

Problem: Too many NYer's crowding in popular areas. No access to information on how populated an area is and if the 6ft required distance is available.

Solution: Develop a tool, similar to Google Maps traffic pattern tool, but show population density. Include stats informing peak hours, capacity, and other vital information to keep distance measures in place. Delivery this information in real-time with preventative measures to overcrowding as opposed to contacting once already exposed, aka contact tracing.


IoT solution: NYC can install sensors, movement detection on entrances or Bluetooth for outdoor locations, to detect how many people came in vs how many people left in a period of time. The number of people present at any moment in the venue is a simple subtraction of the two numbers.


Mobile app solution: (For venues with security at the door): Another solution for venues that have security at the door, the security person can have a mobile app that counts people in and out. That information can be relayed in real-time to the cloud that the public can access in real-time. The number of people currently present in the venue can be made available to the general public on a publicly accessible mobile app or website.


The technologies needed to build such applications are readily available, such as iOS and Android SDKs (Software Development Kits), cloud computing for APIs, Raspberry Pi for IoT solutions, and sensors.

Challenges: The biggest challenge for this type of project is to get businesses and municipalities to opt-in.


The business opt-in challenge could be solved in multiple ways:

  1. Regulations: if the government deems this technology very important for public safety, businesses and venues won’t have a choice but to implement it.

  2. Existing distribution channels: partnering with companies that have relationships with all venues to sell this solution to their existing customers. An example of this is could be Yelp or Google Maps, with their vast reach to all types of venues.


AI and cameras for body recognition: With the advancement of AI and especially Vision AI (recognizing objects in images) one potential solution to the problem of crowded spaces could come from security cameras.


Since security cameras are running 24/7, an AI system could be scanning the captured frames and analyzing them to detect the number of people in the image. The number detected could be sent to a server in the cloud that allows customers to access the information remotely and in real-time.


This solution will need to be implemented with a lot of caution, as to only detect human bodies without running any scans to recognize the people in the image frames, otherwise, regulators and privacy advocates will come running after the developers.


Another challenge that this could face is the willingness of security camera installers to allow a third party to tap into the feed, in which case, the security cameras companies could elect to integrate this solution as part of their existing solution. A startup could build an AI solution to detect the number of people in images and license it to security companies for integration.


Conclusion: The once common phrase, "Information is power," needs an update. "Verified, real-time information is power. Too much, unfiltered information is noise." We have all the tools available to give people vital, lifesaving information. Now we just need to fit the puzzle pieces together to make it useful to the masses. Help pass this idea and other sustainable solutions to those who can help. Sharing is caring.


Contributing writer: Amine Bellajdel - is the co-founder of Ethycally, the marketplace for ethical fashion that gives back to ethical causes.


Amine has more than 15 years of experience working with advanced technologies. Prior to starting Ethycally, he was an engineer at Google, managing one of the largest Google partnerships serving more than 1 Billion customers in the world.


Since mid-March 2020 1.1 million public school students have been learning at home. Remote learning was a hastily organized response to a crisis. It does not meet the learning needs of students. Planning for the next school year will require reframing and reconceptualizing the classroom. Educators and local leaders must take bold actions and integrate all stakeholders: parents, teachers, nurses, social workers, custodial staff, administrators, and students. Bringing students back to school means creating new learning environments and redefining what a classroom looks, sounds, and feels like.


The COVID-19 pandemic has caused upheaval that will result in permanent changes to both public and private education systems. The majority of NYC public school students come from low-income families who rely on schools for education as well as meals, physical and mental healthcare, and safe supportive spaces.

Problem: How can 1.1 million students return to school safely with inevitable state and federal budget cuts?

Solution: Match struggling restaurants with small groups of students who are currently learning from home. Pre-pandemic, Kettle Space created co-working spaces for modern professionals in restaurants that had downtime during the day. Adapting this model, small groups of students and teachers utilize empty restaurant space during the school day to meet face to face in a classroom environment. Restaurants can continue to provide take out and delivery services while small groups use dining space. Restaurants are an ideal environment to meet the CDCs guidelines in reopening schools. Family cohort groups of students will be consistent, the same students and teachers will use the same space, limiting the mixing of groups. Nearby urgent care centers can provide healthcare. The school day ends at 3pm, allowing time for cleaning and prep before the restaurant opens for dinner.

These small classrooms will host cohort groups of students of all ages. Teachers across grade bands will match with groups of families with students in all age groups. Teacher-student ratios are high, often 1 teacher for more than 20 students. Remote or distance learning will continue in a hybrid model. Parents will continue to play a key role in their children’s’ education and will partner with teachers to help students achieve their learning goals. Parents who volunteer will be trained, permission from their employer to miss work 1 day a week, and stipends for their service.

Teaching and learning are rooted in relationships. Families and educators are partners. In person, teachers and classroom staff provide emotional and social checkpoints for students and support for families as they navigate the new world of education.

Winners: Restaurants for increased business during the non-peak hours. Students will have smaller classroom sizes, personalized lessons, and a safe space to socialize with peers. Parents will feel safe knowing their children are close to home, in a safe space, and able to continue to participate in their children's education. Teachers will benefit from this hybrid system as they safely work from home with the option of onsite visits.

Thinkers: Amberle Reyes is a New York City special education teacher trained as a team leader and administrator. Andrea Reyes is an adjunct instructor in both private and public colleges. We are aware of the disruption to public education and want to offer solutions that meet the needs of families, educators, and small businesses.

References

https://www.edutopia.org/article/lessons-learned-during-pandemic

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/schools.html

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/Schools-Decision-Tree.pdf





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