As people look are ordered to stay home and practice social distancing, it is realistic to assume that ecommerce sellers will see an increase in order volume, especially with household necessities. Whether you process product fulfillment in-house or partner with a third-party logistics (3PL) provider, it will crucial to communicate about any delays. It will be critical to brand protection during this period as with any other service outage impact. Sellers need to establish or review a crisis communications plan. This should include multi-location fulfillment strategies as well as customer communication messaging during a crisis.
Although the extra sales are a welcome side-effect of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, online sellers will have to deal with the possibility of a supply chain disruption. This can be a serious issue for many ecommerce sellers as many brands today manufacture goods in Asia which has being heavily impacted by the virus. As the virus spreads, the challenges already arising in Asian manufacturing will be felt globally.
How to Stay Afloat
With manufacturing and shipping concerns at the forefront, online sellers who are most likely to survive intact will those with sound inventory control capabilities. Even if this is not your situation or you are currently trying to reach that goal, there are other steps you can take:
- Partner up with a strong third-party logistics provider (3PL). Make sure that they have experience in dealing with surges—both high and low. It is also important to be clear on prices for storage when surges slow down. Make sure that all fees are in writing to avoid unpleasant surprises when you get the invoice from your 3PL.
- Promote gift cards and special discounts for future purchases. A good marketing strategy is to sell gift cards. This is especially helpful for sellers who are experiencing issues in receiving products from suppliers or issues in have their products fulfilled.
- Ramp up your marketing. If you are fortunate enough to have popular non-essential products available to sell and ship, it is important to let your customers know. Be sure to advertise on your site, on social media platforms as well as on any omnichannels you sell your products. People are preoccupied with news of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and they will need to be reminded that your products are still available.
Struggles felt during this virus crisis may be a blessing in disguise for many online sellers. It will make you realize your fulfillment weaknesses and possibly give you the opportunity to fix them in order to remain in business during this crisis and in future similar scenarios. Stay diligent, create a solid communications plan and be flexible during this difficult time to survive this temporary global health crisis.