Best of 2020: How Businesses Adapted to Life Online

In a year of pandemic chaos, many business did not just adapt to online work, but managed to showcase brilliance.


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Around the world, and especially in China, livestreaming and online shopping were already on the rise before the pandemic. When the coronavirus emerged, the internet became an even greater fixture in our lives. 

Businesses had to shut their doors and work entirely online. For some companies, it was only a matter of promoting digital stores on social media. 

For some companies, moving online did not happen so easily. Here are some of the best ways that Chinese and Chinese-American businesses adapted to virtual life this year.  

Nom Wah Tea Parlor brought their dumplings to the masses.

Poster House

The Nom Wah Tea Parlor is a bakery and restaurant that first opened in New York City in 1920. In order to keep the 100-year-old business running during the pandemic, they started selling frozen dumplings nationwide. 

Their website has instructions for how to prepare them like a professional. Even though the physical locations were closed, the staff hosted cooking classes making dumplings and other dishes on Zoom.

But perhaps their most creative way to promote business during quarantine was taking mass takeout orders. 

Wilson Tang, the owner, asked the doormen of apartment buildings in downtown Manhattan to take meal orders from everyone in the building. Then they delivered all of the meals at once; even the doormen got free meals out of the deal.

MOMO Fun Star lets you play claw machines from your phone.

Anyone who has been to China has probably seen the claw machines in arcades and shopping malls. You’d think that claw machines would be impossible to move online, right? 

But MOMO Fun Star Founder Mo Jiaxuan partnered with Alipay to create a claw machine app where people could control the real-life machines from their phones

Any prizes the participants won were shipped to their homes. The revenue from one day using the app turned out to be five times higher than before quarantine.

The Beijing Music Festival streamed concerts for ten days straight.

While most companies were just happy to hold some kind of online event, the Beijing Music Festival went above and beyond. This annual October event showcases opera and classical music performances. 

The theme of this year’s festival was “The Music Must Go On,” and go on it did. The festival offered nonstop, 24-hour programming from October 10 to 20 on the BMF app. 

They also livestreamed two performances a day. You can watch some highlights, including the opening and closing concerts, on their YouTube channel.

China Institute made all of their lectures free.

China Institute

When the pandemic hit, schools and arts centers started streaming talks and activities online. For many of these events, you had to pay for a ticket or could only access it for a short time. 

What sets the China Institute apart is that all of their programming is available online for free! The 94-year-old nonprofit organization in New York focuses on educating people about Chinese history and culture. 

All of the institute’s public programs through the end of 2020 will be online. This includes interviews with artists and lectures in their Forbidden City at 600 and Pieces of China series.

Dragon Boat Festival competitions went virtual.

Since the pandemic has lasted far longer than any of us would have liked, many of this year’s holidays and festivals had to be celebrated online. The Dragon Boat Festival, which took place on June 25, was no exception. 

The dragon boat races common during the festival were all cancelled. However, some organizers still devised ways of competing with other teams. 

In Beijing local governments held zongzi wrapping competitions where people uploaded videos of themselves to participate.

 In Singapore they held a charity event, the Virtual Dragon Boat Challenge, where teams competed online in physical challenges such as HIIT workouts and tests on dragon boat racing rules. 

Teams of six paid to enter and all of the proceeds went to the Waterways Watch Society, a conservation organization in Singapore. 




Even though the pandemic forced them to get creative, these Chinese and Chinese-American businesses were able to adapt to survive. Life might not get back to normal for a while, but we’re ready for anything that comes our way in 2021. 


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