The Virus (Corona) and eCommerce – We’re In This Together

March 30, 2020
corona effects on eCommerce

The Corona crisis is real!

A health concern, which the World Health Organization (WHO) declared as an international emergency, is disrupting the world economies like no other. The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases across the globe as of March 29, 2020, were more than 700,000 and 100,000+ in the United States. You can monitor the live update of Coronavirus pandemic on Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

The times are tough for businesses, as consumer behaviour is changing followed by the purchase habits. Knowing the consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak, people are maintaining social distancing, avoiding as many human contacts as possible. The scenario is affecting eCommerce enormously! While the online grocery and healthcare shopping is on the boom, other industries are facing a downfall. Let’s discuss a few of the very important impacts of Coronavirus on eCommerce and few things that eStore retailers can do to fight this.

Most Important Tip – Update Your GMB Profile

First things first, in this time of constant change and uncertainty, it is imperative that you keep your business information updated. Whether you’re reducing working/opening hours to help your employees or closing down temporarily, you owe it to your customers! In addition to providing information on your website, it is necessary that you update your Google My Business profile, which many of the users solely rely on when searching via Google Maps or Google.

Even if you aren’t changing how you’re operating, a notice on your eStore or a message on your social media platforms will help your customers know about your working patterns.

Actions you should consider taking:

  • Don’t forget to update your business hours on your website and Google My  Business Profile.
  • Put out a message on the precautions your business is taking to ensure the safety of your employees, customers, and community as a whole.
  • Let people know if you are providing any extra services during this time.
  • Be transparent enough to admit If you are experiencing delays in fulfilling deliveries. Let them know what they can expect.
  • Update your website from where visitors can easily find all the information related to COVID-19 and your working patterns.

Let’s get started with the online selling, deliveries and a few more tips on how to get through this time without panic.

1. The Production Chain Is Hampered

All the businesses, small or large, will face minor to the extravagant impact of factories being shut in China and other countries where lockdown has been imposed. The large scale online retailers have sources, supplies, and also the reserves to tackle the production crisis. But, the smaller and mid-sized companies need to find a workaround if the same scenario lasts for long. Lying there powerless won’t solve anything, instead, try alternate chains by running some connections.

2. The Chinese Products

Let’s assume that your suppliers in China are not yet suffering from the virus epidemic, but there is a fair chance for your customers to be sceptical about the goods you sell. We haven’t heard of any ‘Made In China’ products spreading the virus still, but that doesn’t mean the fear of your customers is entirely irrational.

For example, the USA boycotted all the branches of an Asian snack bar despite only American food being processed there and their employees have not been on Chinese soil for generations.

It’s pretty clear that the consumers might exercise some caution over the next few weeks when it comes to imported items. Maybe this is just an assumption and people might still want to trust the brands they are associated with for long, you can not totally ignore the possibility and leave the sales on fate.

Risk In Dropshipping

The risk of being affected by delivery problems and missing orders is much higher if your business is primarily based on dropshipping. Because:

  1. As a dropshipper, you do not have a warehouse that you can fall back on in the event of production bottlenecks. If your producer fails in China, which is very likely, the sale of your goods immediately comes to a standstill. Furthermore, without the associated logistics, it is not possible for you to quickly hamster goods before the crisis affects you.

  2. You rely on a much longer logistics chain than just your producers. It is not enough for the factory to continue working. The local freight forwarder may also have stopped working due to the Corona crisis. The same applies to the shipping companies. Of course, dealers with their own warehouse also have to struggle with this problem, but it affects you as a dropshipper more directly.

If you are running a dropshipping business, you should take particular care of our tips in the next section. The same applies if you are thinking about getting into this business.

Facing the Panic – things you should do

Difficulties in eCommerce are inevitable. However, since it rarely helps in the situation of panic, you should now adjust yourself for the worst. These are the set screws you can turn:

1. Contact your manufacturers

Communication is crucial, especially in times of crisis. Therefore, contact your most important suppliers immediately and get a good understanding of their location and how things stand there. We recommend that you look for a personal conversation if possible. Take the trouble to reach the right contact person on your supplier side, and have a conversation with them.

2. Ration your sales

While it may sound contradictory, if the situation escalates further, you will soon be dealing with a seller’s market. This means that there is a greater demand than can be covered by the range of goods. Consequently, you could cut back on your advertising measures and raise your prices/cut back on discounts. It is better to sell fewer items at a higher price than to lose customers because you cannot service their order.

3. Search for alternative providers

Although China is attractive as a manufacturer because goods are cheaply produced there, there are a number of other countries that you could consider sourcing from. Perhaps a local or less contaminated country’s supplier may be expensive, but there are other advantages: The delivery routes will be shorter, your contacts will not be at the other end of the world and, above all, these places are yet less affected by the coronavirus as China. So look around for new delivery channels in good time, even if it comes with a hit on margins. 

4. Concentrate on the core business

When the going gets tough and your suppliers stop producing, start by leveraging where it’s most worthwhile: the items that make you the most money. If in doubt, take care of your top-selling products – because crises are always known as opportunities where you can grow.

5. Communicate directly with your customers

Honesty is a valuable commodity, especially when there are difficulties. If it is foreseeable that delivery problems may arise in your shop in the future, inform your customers in good time. The best way to do this is to use all the channels available to you, i.e. your website, emails and your social media presence. 

If there are delivery problems with an order, we recommend that you be generous: apologize to your customer for the difficulties and maybe even offer him compensation like a voucher for having to wait weeks for his goods, giving you a great chance of purchase again in the future.

Wrapping Up

‘We’re in this together’ and ‘This shall too pass!’ are the two phrases we should stand by. eCommerce is facing a problem as the economy and the people are in a critical situation. Stay connected via communication mediums to your customers and help them in every way possible. After all, it’s not always about profits and numbers, but humanity!

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