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#002: How did ReCo pivot to delivering grocery during COVID-19?

Danling Xiao

In this episode I share the insights of my exciting collaboration with Michelle from Cafe 0.6. We’ve just launched an online grocery delivery service this week, as a response to the current COVID-19 condition.

It only took us two weeks to put everything together. But the whole thing didn’t come easily for me initially. In this episode I talked about my initial reaction from my subconscious, alignment with Michelle's values and beliefs, and the growth mindset about money in such challenging times.

I hope you enjoyed this episode and learnt something useful. If you live in Sydney CBD, the inner city and the inner west, we would love your support! You can now order Michelle’s fruit and veggie box with add-ons, from our shop.

For every box, 5% of the profit goes to Youth Off The Streets who's also in Alexandria. If you can, chip in a small donation. All the donations will help provide the essentials to the young people, who unfortunately don’t have a safe home to go to at these times.

Listen on! If you like this episode, don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter at the bottom of this page.

The ReCo Podcast is releasing a new episode every fortnight.

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Script

Hello again! It’s Danling here. Thank you so much for your feedback on my first episode! It’s such a great encouragement. Thank you, it really means a lot. 

How are you feeling?  

I haven’t been out for weeks. But I am grateful that most of us in Sydney are safe and we are all doing what we can to help the situation. 

I mentioned in my first episode I was going to talk about the environmental impact of COVID-19, but have decided to put it on hold until we have more information. 

In this episode I am going to share with you some insights of my exciting collaboration with Cafe 0.6. We’ve just launched an online grocery delivery service this week, as a response to the current condition. It only took us two weeks to put everything together. But the whole thing didn’t come easily for me initially. 

10 days ago I had a dream. I was in a hotel with Anett. I saw a small fire ignited on the beige carpet. I shouted, quick, put out the fire! 

I picked up the fire extinguisher next to me. Squeezed the trigger. Ssssss….. The fire was gone. I called the hotel service, told them, hey there was a fire here, but it wasn’t my fault. It was a spontaneous combustion. 

But the carpet was ignited again. As Anett tried to put out the fire, I looked to the TV. It was frightening. Not only our room was on fire, the whole building was on fire. Every floor. Every window. The fires are too big to put out now. I told Anett. I woke up.

What was my subconscious telling me? Was I frightened? No. Was I angry? Fire is usually associated with anger. But I wasn’t angry. I was just trying to solve the problem. But think again, was the fire the problem, or was I the problem? Maybe I was the problem because I am trying to suppress something that comes naturally?

I looked up the meanings of the symbols. Hotel, fire, fire extinguisher. What I’ve found was astonishing.

Hotel is a symbol of transit and change. Fire is scary, but could mean passion and enlightenment. On the other hand, the fire extinguisher, it’s suppression.

It all makes sense now. The whole hotel was on fire. That’s exactly how the world feels at the moment. Chaotic, dangerous, transiting to an unknown. But there is also optimism about this unknown. Lots of us believe that this change will lead us to a more much conscious future.

But our mind naturally resists changes. At least in mine, I obviously tried to suppress these changes! I wonder, if you had the same dream, would you also try to put out the fire?

HERE’S THE WISDOM FOR YOU

Drop the fire extinguisher. No suppression. Let passion take the lead even in times of crisis. Look at the crisis as an outsider like I was watching my hotel burning from a TV screen. Recreate our OWN reality. 

In the first 2 weeks of the lockdown, this podcast was the only thing I was excited about. When I wasn’t preparing for the podcast, I was experiencing lots of mixed feelings and emotions. I felt unmotivated and sluggish.

Then there was my friend Michelle from Cafe 0.6. I told Michelle my grocery delivery was delayed and so many items were missing and it would be great to create a similar service online. Michelle said why not, I am already doing grocery delivery. It would be cool to partner with ReCo.

Finally something exciting! Michelle’s next day grocery delivery service will definitely solve my own problems! I could really see it happening. I felt alive again thinking about it!

That night after our discussion, I couldn’t fall asleep. I was already listing down things I wanted to discuss with Michelle the next morning, and what I need to do to bring this idea to life.

But something was holding me back. Everything happened way too quickly. It’s not according to my plan. My plan was to have a quiet life during the lockdown. But now we are talking about an online grocery delivery service? And we will need to make it happen as soon as possible? And is it not too late? We’ve already been in lockdown for 3 weeks. Why am I doing this?  

The morning I woke up from my burning hotel, I realised all these thoughts were my fire distinguisher. My reiki master Samantha once told me. When you can feel the excitement and passion, it's a right thing to do. 

I texted Michelle on WhatsApp as soon as I woke up. We are going to go live in 10 days. Let’s do this.

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I was able to let go of my fire extinguisher. It was also because there was such positive alignment in Michelle’s products and services, herself as a business owner and a person. It felt right.

Cafe business is one of the most impacted by COVID19. Seeing what Michelle has done since Day 1 of the lockdown, I admire how responsive she is to the situation. I wonder how she keeps up with all the changes. 

For this episode, I asked Michelle to share with us her experiences and tips.

My question to Michelle: How do you keep up with a positive outlook as a business owner under such harsh conditions?

[MICHELLE’S ANSWER] 

Michelle has responded to the lockdown at an incredible speed. On day 3 of the lockdown she already launched a full week of lunch delivery menu. Assembled two teams as part of her contingency plan. Got her hygiene gear ready. The team of three also delivers by themselves, to minimise the number of contacts for their customers.

My question to Michelle: What makes you adapt to the situation so quickly?

[MICHELLE’S ANSWER] 

As a cafe business, Michelle already has the access to the products. Her team prepares cooked meals with their in-house recipes. They’ve already been selling the produce and delivering themselves, so they know what’s best for their customers in these times.

These all add up to the viability of this collaboration. On the technical side, bringing this service to ReCo is an easy fix. All we needed was to create a page that’s user-friendly for grocery shopping. It's a different setting to ReCo’s current shop, but it’s a lot cheaper and faster than creating a shopping cart from scratch.

My question was more about the uncertainty from the lockdown and the coronavirus.

What if the government imposes level 4 lockdown and how would that impact this service? What if the team gets infected with coronavirus? Touch wood this will never ever happen. But it’s something that needs to be considered as well. What if the lockdown ban is lifted next month and it’s safe for people to move around?

I also needed to know Michelle’s delivery capacity and how she managed the picking and packing process, as well as informing the fees for her to factor into her pricing. Given the tough condition, I’ve also suggested that we should donate a percentage of the profit or food to people in need. She agreed straight away.

We checked with friends in New Zealand who are experiencing level 4 lockdown, to make sure if we were going into the same situation, it would still be legal to operate a grocery delivery service.

We also checked and made sure everything we do complies with legislation. Michelle reassured me the team is well prepared for health and safety. Masks and gloves are worn at all times. Delivery is contactless. The team is small and disciplined. Definitely not going to house parties and the beach!

These were my biggest concerns. I needed to feel grounded for this decision I made. For any other challenges, I believe we will be able to come up with solutions together.

HERE’S THE WISDOM FOR YOU

In times of crisis, it’s even more important to have alignment in ourselves and other people who are involved in the business. The alignment will make things a lot easier in difficult times.

When I showed Michelle’s answers to Anett, Anett said to me, you guys are just so aligned! 

We’ve never talked about this, but I think we both have a very intuitive and responsive approach when it comes to work. There will be challenges later, but I think we just mutually agree that we are just going to focus on what we can do now, bring the idea to life, test and improve as we go.

It needs to be practical too. Before you make a decision, list the pros and cons. List your available resources, resources you are missing and how you can access them in the easiest way. Also, list the risks, your options and how much risk you are willing and able to take.

If I had to create a shopping cart from scratch, I would help Michelle in any other way but would never go for this particular collaboration. The best thing about this collaboration is that it's low cost to build the infrastructure and it can be put together in less than 2 weeks.

I think that’s also the beauty of small businesses, because it gives us a lot more flexibility to adapt. We don’t need to go through levels of approvals to make decisions. We only have a small team to manage which is the biggest advantage in times like this.

If you are an offline business, collaborate with someone who already has an online platform that aligns with your values, or someone who is knowledgeable to help you navigate through the online space.

If you already have all the channels you need, online and offline, but still struggling, you may want to think, how can I bring more values that align with people’s needs at this moment, and look for resources from there.

I believe this approach does not only apply to businesses, it’s equally useful for freelancers or anyone who’s starting a new project. It’s the worst time, but it’s also the best time to identify what is truly, essentially needed to bring the greater good for our community. And keep asking yourself, who am I? Who am I? What’s my purpose? How can I help to create a better future for my community? You will find the alignment within yourself and soon discover your new business ideas.

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Like I said, the process is a lot easier when things are aligned. Michelle gave me a list of products, I quickly put together a design. It took a few days for my developer to look into the functionality within Shopify and give me a quote. The team coded the web page, listed the products and there we go, we are live in 10 days.

It’s an easy process so I won’t go into details. I would like to share something lots of people avoid talking about. Money.

It’s estimated one million people have lost their jobs in Australia due to COVID-19. It’s also devastating lots of businesses. People who unfortunately lost their jobs are struggling. To a lot of us, money has never been so critically important on a daily basis. There is a lot of fear and anxiety going on.

But think about the times before COVID, how many of us worry about money often? If you didn’t have to worry about money, would you quit your job and pursue a career you love? If you didn’t have to worry about money, would you give part of your profit to someone who needs it more than you?

COVID or no COVID, the scarcity mindset towards money is deeply rooted in lots of us. I believe it is the growth mindset that needs to be cultivated. And we might be able to learn about this mindset a lot faster at this time.

HERE’S THE WISDOM FOR YOU

I would like to share with you this quote from HuffPost: 

Consciousness is the awareness and internal knowing of thoughts, feelings and experiences. Money is an expression of energy and we use it to support our life. When money is earned, spent, saved and given consciously, it reflects what we value the most. It becomes an intuitive gauge for who we are, what we stand for and where we are headed.  

In times like this, it’s especially important to remind us that money is part of our life, but it’s not all. There might be a difficulty in getting the money you need at this moment, but if you have a positive mindset, it will flow to you. You need to be open for it to flow to you. 

Here are some tips for you. 

  1. First of all, if you’ve been stood down, or if your business has lost sales due to COVID19, seek financial help from the government, look into fundings that may help you get through this period. In the same time, look for opportunities, offer others your product or service that aligns their needs.
  2. If you run a business, don’t be afraid to get your customers to support you. As a customer, I support my favourite local businesses by buying vouchers for later use. I believe there are a lot of people like myself out there
  3. Don’t be afraid to explain and ask for a discounted price from your suppliers. If you can afford, compensate them with your product or service.
  4. If you are a supplier, don’t be afraid to ask for your fee. You can offer a discounted fee. Remember, to be able to help others, we need to first be able to survive ourselves.  
  5. Set prices that align with your business’s objective at these times. I like Michelle’s approach when it comes to price setting. As long as she’s not loss making at these times, she would always set the most fair prices for her customers.
  1. Always, always consider how you can help the vulnerables through every transaction you make. It’s a challenging time for you, but keep in mind there are people who don’t even have food to eat. If you can, donate a profit to these people. 

Most importantly, be grateful for every dollar that comes in, give back whenever you can.

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Despite the passion and the easy workflow, am I worried? Do I have any hesitation? I would be lying if I say I don’t. Last Monday after I wrote down my list of things to do, I also wrote a question to myself - who do I want to be?

This was the answer written down:

It’s always been my dream to become an entrepreneur since I was little. I remember in an essay in year 5, I wrote about myself becoming an entrepreneur like my father.

But I don’t want to be a conventional entrepreneur like my father. Our times are different. My vision for entrepreneurship is enriched with creativity, integrity and wisdom. 

An entrepreneur takes opportunities and overcomes challenges, especially in times of crisis. Keep doing what I think it’s the best and keep doing what I love. It will be good in the end.  

That was the biggest insight I’ve learnt about myself from this collaboration so far.

I also asked Michelle what has she learnt and this is her answer:

[MICHELLE’S ANSWERS]

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I hope you enjoyed this episode and learnt something useful. If you live in Sydney CBD, the inner city and the inner west, we would love your support! You can now order Michelle’s fruit and veggie box with add-ons, from ReCo's website, myre.co.

For every box, 5% of the profit goes to Youth Off The Streets who is also in Alexandria. If you can, chip in a small donation on the website too. All the donations will help provide the essentials to the young people, who unfortunately don’t have a safe home to go to at these times.

I hope you nourish yourself with lots of good food and rest. Thanks for listening and I will see you in two weeks!