Checkout this guest blog post from our partner, Deliverr, about ways to ensure your operations stay strong during COVID-19. Also, they are surveying multi-channel sellers on the state of multi-channel commerce, so click here to take the survey by April 28th and enter for a chance of winning one of five $200 Amazon gift cards.
The coronavirus pandemic has impacted eCommerce sellers substantially, and many are struggling to cope. But your business’ future relies on your ability to survive the pandemic and emerge a bigger and better seller.
To help, here are 5 ways you can help ensure your operations stay strong during COVID-19 and beyond.
How COVID-19 has affected eCommerce operations
In just three months, COVID-19 has completely changed the challenges of an eCommerce business as we know it, and the strain is being particularly felt in operations.
Global panic buying, lockdowns, trading restrictions, and sickness have led to:
- An increasing number of people are shopping online, because they can’t shop in-store.
- Disjoined supply chains because of manufacturers and suppliers halting production.
- Reduced workforces due to staff sickness and childcare issues.
- Fulfillment pressures, with Amazon FBA restricting inbound and outbound shipments of non-essential items.
Delivering products has never been more critical or challenging.
5 ways to ensure your operations stay strong during COVID-19
Fortunately, there are five ways to strengthen your eCommerce operations during COVID-19 to protect your reputation, customers, and business now and for the future.
1. Protect yourselves
First, it’s critical to limit the spread of coronavirus in your business as much as possible.
- Split shifts to minimize the number of people working together at the same time.
- Space out working spaces at least six feet away from each other.
- Use PPE such as gloves and masks.
- Encourage regular hand washing and cleaning.
- Follow self-isolation guidelines if anyone gets sick or lives with someone who has fallen ill.
Learn more about self-fulfillment procedures and how to help keep your employees healthy.
2. Increase your capacity
Next, you want to increase your capacity to handle orders. Increased capacity allows you to meet the growing number of online orders, maintain adequate service levels, and sustain your eCommerce business through COVID-19.
There are two ways to increase the capacity of your eCommerce operations during COVID-19: Automation and outsourcing.
If you’re not already automating where possible, now is the time to. Tools such as SellerActive’s bulk listing, inventory sync, and order management tools reduce the number of manual tasks required to run your business. This increases your efficiency and gives you more time to use for other tasks.
Outsourcing operational tasks such as fulfillment allows you to immediately increase your capacity to handle more orders, without impacting your delivery speeds, reducing your shipping standards, or requiring additional space, costs, or employees.
Tip: Use our online calculator to see your fulfillment costs.
3. Diversify your operations
Diversifying your operations reduces the risk of COVID-19 stopping your ability to deliver customer orders. It does this by spreading your activities between multiple services so that if one component fails, you have a backup to rely upon.
The main areas to diversify are:
To successfully source products in a crisis, look into spreading your manufacturing and supply sources across more than one country. If you can’t do this, then look to diversify across different regions. This will help you to overcome any region or country-specific lockdowns or shipping restrictions.
Sales channels and SKUs
The more sales channels and SKUs you operate, the more ways your business has to keep trading should stock dry up, or a sales channel become less popular. For example, with Amazon increasing the delivery window for Prime orders, customers may be more likely to shop with Walmart or eBay. Being on these channels means that you don’t miss out on business.
Splitting your stock across multiple warehouses isn’t just good for achieving 2-day delivery across the country. It also means that should one warehouse become non-operational due to COVID-19, you have other warehouses to rely upon.
Obviously, now isn’t the time to be viewing or building warehouses, but in the meantime, you can use those of an outsourced fulfillment provider to weather this current crisis.
4. Use FBM
If you’re an Amazon seller using FBA, then your operations may have been impacted by recent product restrictions. FBM is an alternative to FBA where you as a seller become responsible for the fulfillment of Amazon orders, which means you can bypass any limitations that FBA may have introduced. You can handle FBM in-house or by outsourcing.
In-house FBM involves storing, picking, packing, and shipping orders using your own facilities and shipping carrier. While this might be a long-term solution for your business, it is challenging to implement and perfect during the current situation.
Outsourced FBM involves using an outsourced FBM fulfillment partner to store, pick, pack, and ship your orders within 2-days or fewer. Using an outsourced FBM provider allows you to quickly overcome the FBA restrictions but maintain the same processes and shipping speeds for you and your customers.
5. Maintaining best practices
For your operations to stay strong during COVID-19, you need orders to pick, pack, and ship. Just because there’s a pandemic out there, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be pushing to maintain or grow your sales.
In particular, it’s important to keep up with the following best practices:
- Visibility - ranking high on search result pages using keywords, qualifying for fast shipping tags, and winning the buy box.
- Optimized listings - using descriptive and informative descriptions alongside high-quality listings and positive customer reviews.
- Competitive pricing - using Amazon repricing software or multi-channel repricing tools to keep your prices competitive and profitable.
- Fast shipping - qualifying for Seller Fulfilled Prime, Walmart 2-day delivery, and Wish Express to increase exposure, clicks, and sales.
- Outstanding customer service - providing customers with a great service at a time it’s needed most.
Bonus tip #6 - Staying strong following COVID-19
The coronavirus pandemic will one day come to an end, and it’s essential that your eCommerce operations are ready for that day.
Spend the time now forecasting demand early and ordering items with sufficient notice to ensure that you and your operations are stocked, prepped, and ready to fulfill the post-coronavirus shopping boom.
Times are tough, and your eCommerce operations will no doubt be feeling the pressure. However, by following these five tips for ensuring your operations stay strong during COVID-19, we’re certain that you can emerge from this pandemic wiser, busier, and more successful.
Good luck and stay safe.
About the Author
This is a guest post from Rachel Go, who handles content and partnerships at Deliverr. Deliverr provides fast and affordable fulfillment for your Shopify, Walmart, Amazon, and eBay stores, helping to boost sales through programs like 2-day delivery for Shopify, Walmart 2-day delivery, Seller Fulfilled Prime, and eBay Fast ‘N Free.
Deliverr’s FBA-like multi-channel fulfillment comes with clear pricing, easy on-boarding and a hassle free experience so you can focus on growing your eCommerce business.