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How the pandemic changed how DoorDash, Pinterest, Hims & Hers, and Workday do business

October 5, 2021, 9:25 PM UTC
Hilary Coles, cofounder of Hims & Hers, an online retailer of health products and services.

Several leading brands were already in the process of tinkering their offerings to customers when the pandemic struck early last year and forced them to speed those efforts up and open new lines of business, many of which have remained important as the economy has reopened.

Take DoorDash. The company had not been all that active with deliveries from grocery stores and convenience stores compared to restaurant deliveries. But the pandemic forced its hand. “It was a pull forward of a lot of things that had been on the road map,” Elizabeth Jarvis-Shean, DoorDash’s vice president of communications and policy, told a Fortune panel on Tuesday ahead of the Most Powerful Women conference next week. “We had wanted to offer consumers the ability to have convenience store and grocery delivery though DoorDash, but by then it had become an imperative.”

A new partner for DoorDash since the pandemic was online health products retailer Hims & Hers. That company also found it had to adapt what it offered employees to reflect new needs during the prolonged pandemic.

“What we did in those early days is we focused and doubled down on what it is we do really well, which is help people take care of themselves,” said Hilary Coles, the brand’s cofounder and senior vice president for brand and innovation. So the company focused on mental health, launching a free program with anonymous support groups and sessions with licensed therapists. Its offering to customers was expanded to include psychiatry at lower prices, Coles said.

For Workday, there were so many possibilities, it was a challenge to figure what to offer, said Emily McEvilly, Workday’s chief customer officer. “The hardest thing to do was collect all the ideas across the company and synthesize those into what mattered most, and what could impact those customers most,” she said. Workday offered free consulting to its health care and retailer customers with many frontline workers, deepening its connection with them.

Of course, the pandemic was not the only current event to cause widespread anxiety and worry, noted LeMia Jenkins Thompson, global head of communications at Pinterest. That period was a reminder to the company on the importance of inclusion and customers seeing themselves on its site. That has included starting an inclusion council with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and Pinterest now works with several more organizations to help it focus on inclusivity. “Over the last 18 months, we’ve really evolved our channels. We’ve really thought differently about our audience,” Thompson said.

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