The Czech book market has been at a standstill over the past two weeks. This is due mainly to the government’s decision to close most stores, including bookstores, which was unavoidable in light of the novel coronavirus…
A dozen of companies with pan-European operations as well as technology start-ups from the Rockaway portfolio are working at maximum capacity as the teams are busy ensuring health and safety of its thousands of employees while maintaining the quality of services for its customers. Although some of the companies must have halted their services due to the declared state of emergency and quarantine, they are coming up with new alternatives business models or providing their capacities for projects aimed at assisting vulnerable people.
Like other companies in every sector, the companies in the portfolio of Jakub Havrlant’s investment group are struggling with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. “At the beginning, there was mainly an effort to help – resulting in creative projects such as launching call centres for emergency lines or online broadcasting of cultural events. It is motivating to see that our companies confirm their contribution to society. At the same time, we have to openly state that the situation is complicated and we all work under extreme pressure,” says Jan Jírovec, investment partner at Rockaway.
For companies such as online travel agency Invia or bookstores Luxor, the state of emergency constitutes a major business constraint and they are thus seeking alternatives to getting involved in resolving the situation or coming up with new business models. Conversely, online grocery business Košík and e-commerce player Mall Group are facing an extreme onslaught of customers whose demand by far exceeds even the Christmas peak. “It is now crucial that we maintain the quality of services for our customers, since online shopping are often the only form of supply available these days. It’s not easy, but I’m convinced that we can handle the situation. It is already evident that we are all able to cope with the crisis,” Jan Jírovec adds.
Two hundred people from the Invia.cz call centre form the backbone of the new emergency lines
It took less than 24 hours since the first report on the upcoming emergency lines before Invia.cz provided its customer care call centre at the disposal of the City of Prague. The city has set up the line at 800 160 166 for the elderly and other people needing assistance. Since Friday, 13 March, operators have been providing advice to callers on delivery of food, medicines and sanitary products, as well as psychological assistance.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also introduced a nationwide emergency line at the end of last week operating at number 1212 of the Covid19cz group, which is supported by the Czech IT community. This line is also in operation thanks to 130 members of the Invia.cz call centre, who answer callers’ questions about the coronavirus, infection and prevention. Trained professionals were available only a few hours after the group’s management learned of the initiative and a few dozen people began operating within a matter of hours.
Storyous saves gastro scene through technology: finalising an application and launches an interactive map of restaurants in business
Storyous has also responded to the developments of the last few days in a very short timeframe, providing gastronomic businesses with a point-of-sales system and operations management. By the end of the week, the company will offer its customers from the ranks of restaurants, pubs and cafés an application for online ordering and paying for takeaway meals. Under the hashtag #ZachranGastro, Storyous is motivating people to support their favourite dining establishments and is addressing possible alternative ways to operate for its customers on an individual basis.
Storyous has also introduced a map of establishments that are offering takeaway meals. Using the hashtag #kdesenajim, customers themselves can add more addresses to the map.
Košík.cz faces an unprecedented raid by customers and prepares launch of nationwide coverage throughout the Czech Republic
The Košík.cz team around Tomáš Jeřábek become involved in the operation of the pomahamepraze.cz help line and, in cooperation with the Czech Red Cross, offers elderly people delivery of favourably priced food bundles. In addition to that, the company has also initiated delivery of ready-to-eat meals priced at cost under the new Košík Hotovky brand. Košík.cz primarily wants to help elderly people and households that are now facing income issues.
In cooperation with the start-up DoDo and its DoDobrovolník platform, Košík.cz is putting together a last-mile system that minimises delivery costs. Even before the declaration of the state of emergency, Košík.cz significantly increased its capacity to supply as many people as possible. It is now working to cover the entire Czech Republic and thus improve the quality of life for people in quarantine and keep them safe while staying at home.
Concerts, performances and a talk shows – Mall.tv launches daily live broadcasts
Theatres, galleries, cinemas, music clubs and other cultural institutions saw the first impacts of the coronavirus threat last week. Thanks to the project called #kulturazije, which was initiated by Mall.tv in conjunction with the fundraising platform Donio.cz, viewers can watch live broadcasts of various shows and performances online from home. The public can then provide financial support to artists in any amount on the Donio website. Mall.tv will broadcast, for example, live concerts of PSH and Zrní, performances of Vosto5 or Na zábradlí theatre, as well as a talk shows by Iva Pazderková and Adéla Elbel.
MALL.cz at full capacity: contactless delivery to customers’ homes and more than 700 pickup points. The company offersretail shops affected by the government measures the possibility to sell online
Thanks to the MALL Partner programme, store owners who had to close their shops due to the state of emergency can list their goods on the market place and reach millions of customers online. Even in the current difficult conditions, MALL delivers to more than 700 pickup points and utilises its sister courier firm InTime, which increases the capacity for safe and contactless home delivery.
The company has also implemented a number of preventive measures. Protective equipment is being made available to people at pickup points and the number of customers who can be present at a pickup point at any given moment is limited to three. In addition to that, measurement of body temperature has been introduced in warehouses and shippers are required to operate in contactless mode. Customers can also newly choose contactless parcel delivery.
Due to strong interest from customers, MALL.cz has expanded its offer to include a line of non-perishable foods such as pasta, rice and canned goods.
Fintech firm MALL Pay helps with contactless delivery of purchases and orders
The fintech firm MALL Pay also plays an essential role with its deferred payment ecosystem, which is currently of key importance for the safe delivery and handover of purchases wherever customers are unwilling or unable to pay online in advance. This refers particularly to conservative customers of restaurants and bistros who are accustomed to pay upon delivery. This is currently the only source of income for numerous gastronomic establishments.
MALL Pay offers merchants express onboarding. If they use the ČSOB payment gateway, merchants can have the deferred payment service activated within two days. For others, MALL Pay strives to proceed at an accelerated pace. From merchants’ perspective, the payment conditions are set similarly to those applied to card transactions, where merchants receive money almost immediately for an approximately 1% transaction fee, even in the event that customers subsequently decide to pay in the client zone by means of bank transfer or use the full 14-day period that they have available to them.
Guaranteed purchases via Heureka basket and a special landing page
Buying goods online is the safest way today, but there are still people who are unfamiliar with ot worried about shopping online. The comparison shopping platform and largest online shopping adviser Heureka, wants to make these purchases as easy as possible for customers, launching a special page with tips on safe and trouble-free shopping, from available delivery options to preferred payment methods. The page will also include price comparison of the best-selling products and information on their availability.
At the same time, Heureka recommends users to purchase goods directly through the Heureka basket (i.e. the orange “Buy on Heureka” button), in which only e-shops with the “Verified by Customers” label can participate. Transactions are executed on the Heureka platform and Heureka itself is the guarantor of every such purchase and refunds in the event of non-delivery of goods.
Manifesto Delivery: food from multiple restaurants in one order via Uber Eats or as takeaway
The Manifesto cultural-gastronomic project was about to launch its own food-delivery service, unique in Europe, allowing the combination of offers from several bistros within roughly six months. Due to the pressure of the circumstances, the innovative “Manifesto Delivery” food-delivery system was finalised in an incredibly short timeframe of only a few days. The service has been in operation since Thursday, 19 March, in cooperation with Uber Eats. The unique feature is that customers can choose from the menus of nine restaurants and bistros, randomly combine their offers and order everything with “one click” in a single order and with one delivery fee. At the same time, food can be picked up in person for takeaway at the Manifesto market at Florenc in Prague, in compliance with the government’s safety guidelines and under strict hygienic measures that Manifesto has been preparing for several weeks.
Photo: Alex Shoots Buildings
Euromedia sends books to children of healthcare workers via its Luxor bookstores
The popular Czech bookstore chain Luxor, which is part of Euromedia Group, is preparing a CSR project, in which it plans to supply child readers whose parents are health professionals are now fully committed to their work, with book packages. Preschools and individuals who look after the children of doctors and nurses can register at email@example.com. The donation will also include audiobooks with the appropriate audio devices. In addition to that, Euromedia participates in the #kulturažije project of the Mall.tv internet television channel and is preparing interviews and author’s readings with leading Czech writers. It is also working on a format that will broadcast audiobooks.