The Future of Commerce — Lessons from COVID-19

Chialin Yu
4 min readMay 2, 2020

Now on the 6th week of self-quanrantining in my small studio in Battery Park, NYC, I’ve not only mastered the cooking skills that my Chinese parents considered “not bad” (which is a Chinese way of saing “wow amazing!”), but I’ve also became sort of a crazy shopper. I don’t hoard medical supplies or food (no one should), but I did become very “interested” in all the discounts and sales that brands are offering to combat the lack of consumer enthusiasm due to the depressing and unfortunate virus enviroment. In the mail yesterday alone, I received 2 bottles of makeup removers, 1 white cashmere sweater, and 1 pair of Havianas flip flops. “How?” was the only question that came into my mind as I looked down on the packages scattered around on my floor that seemed to form a puzzle. I could’t help but think — am I crazy or is everyone crazy like me?

I guess it’s all about organic food and toilet papers

The evolution of commerce, especially ecommerce, has been a popular topic for years. From individual stores to shopping malls to digital storefronts and eCommerce websites, brands are always brainstorming newer and better ways to attract and retain consumers.

Brands used to do creative commercials and smart taglines, which would certainly still be effective now, but Glossier started the trends of influencer marketing where they aggressively partnered with influencers and made videos of them trying on Glossier products. Consumers instantly fell in love with this campaigne becasue there were so many influencers that every skin color, every makeup style, and every skin texture possible was covered. Through Glossier, consumers can find at least one video that works for her and at least one influencer that directly speaks to her and purchasing, at that point, become a no brainer. About three weeks ago, under the COVID impact, Glossier started offering a free video chat service called Live Edit where consumers can connect virtually with Glossier team member to have a 15min 1–1 consulting session to ask questions, discuss skin problems and receive product recommendations. Live Edit was released as a pilot program with 150 slots which filled up in less than a day and today Glossier offered a second batch which were also…