The spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to increase with every passing day and it now appears likely that the UK will enter into some sort of lockdown at some stage in the future.
‘How will this affect eCommerce stores like mine?’ I hear you ask.
Well, the short answer is we don’t know for certain – but what we do know is that customers will still expect to get their orders no matter what.
Furthermore, there is also the potential for order numbers to actually increase during any lockdown period as shoppers are holed up in their homes and are forced to abandon trips to physical stores.
Many eCommerce companies have already been affected depending on where their products are sourced, with a great number of factories in China being closed for some time. Others may not be feeling the effects just yet, but now is the time to prepare so you are ready if and when required.
With all that in mind, we’ve created a short list of things you should be bearing in mind as an eCommerce store owner to ensure your business continues to run as smoothly as possible:
Key Things To Bear In Mind
- Think about how you might be able to continue to pick, pack and dispatch should there be a reduction in staff due to absence.
- Look to source alternative products if you think you could be hit with supply issues from affected regions such as Asia and Central Europe.
- Follow the relevant government guidelines for your physical stores (if you have them) and ensure hand soap or hand sanitisers are in place for all staff and visitors.
- If you are out of stock of a product, communicate to your customers that the coronavirus outbreak has led to limited stock availability, rather than simply stating the product is sold out or no longer stocked.
- Prepare homepage banners and draft emails to inform your customers and ensure they are aware of any effects the coronavirus is having on your business.
- Imagine the situation you might be faced with should you have to close some or all of your premises – what would you need to be able to continue to deliver to customers should this happen? Take the relevant steps now to make sure you are prepared.
- Communicate to your customers that delivery times may be longer than usual or even delayed entirely during the lockdown period.
- Look to reduce the number of avoidable staff trips, or cancel them if possible.
- Maintain clear communication at all times across all available channels to keep your customers informed throughout.
- Don’t look for short term gains – selling overpriced face masks or expensive hand sanitisers just because you have them in stock is not a good look for the long term!
It’s obvious that every eCommerce business will be affected in different ways, but hopefully if you apply these suggestions now, any impact can be minimised and allow you to keep trading if the UK does officially enter a lockdown period.
Ultimately, your customers should understand any issues that may arise with orders as long as it comes with a good reason and your communications regarding the coronavirus are clear.
With any luck, the outbreak will not be as serious as initially feared and normality will continue.
If you have any concerns or questions for us, just get in touch and we’ll do what we can to help!