eCommerce Strategy during COVID-19: How to adapt to the crisis

It is obvious that coronavirus created an unusual and challenging environment for online retail businesses. From closing of stores and modified refund policies, to delays in delivery and completely changed marketing messages – all retail elements got hit by pandemic. However, these challenging times are the signal for businesses to adjust to the given conditions and revise their marketing strategies, together with business and operation models to give the best customer experience. Here we provide some tips the retail companies can use to adapt to the pandemic and retain sustainable revenue and high sales even during a crisis.

The latest outbreak in online shopping made retailers think about the modernization of their supply chain and contingency plans of order fulfillment. In this regard, we outlined the most important factors you should take into account, together with the efficient tips for you to implement:

Best tips to use now:

  • Still give clients the choice on how to get their orders. Taking into account the social distancing, there’s a need to modify the option to buy online, for example, pickup in-store (BOPIS) to curbside pickup when customers can grab supplies without leaving the car. Propose your clients non-contact delivery – leaving the orders outside the doors or placing them in cars.
  • Define the stores that can be opened and carry out your fulfillment strategy. If you have to close all your stores, then you need to redistribute the items from the closed stores to opened ones to support the work of your supply chain.
  • Expand the timeframes for product exchanges and returns. It is beneficial for both sides – your clients will be satisfied with new timeframes and your fulfillment centers will possess enough time to manage the delivery. Moreover, you should ensure that your Order Management System (OMS) is setup in the right way to deal with these extra issues.
  • Offer your clients the options of backorder and presell. Whether your supply chain is affected and you are run out of inventory or you can’t deliver new set of goods to your fulfillment center, then backorders or presell options will still make your sales possible. In this case, it is crucial to pay special attention to customer expectation management on delivery timing.
  • Keep taking orders if inventory is available but your stores are closed. Even if you can’t fulfill the order, your OMS should continue to allow orders placement for goods accessible in these specific fulfillment locations. It will allow you to continue selling these goods. Take into account that delivery time your clients expect is important here, as well as the possibility to cancel the order if the order waiting time is too long.

Order Management Systems Key Points

Thinking about your OMS, be certain if it enables you to:

  • Ease in switching fulfillment location on/off when the location (particular stores, fulfillment centers, regions, whole store chain) has no opportunity to manage, deliver or pick up orders.
  • Ease in adding a new fulfillment location in case if other ones are unavailable (that can be implemented through a temporary or pop up website).
  • Smoothly geo-routing rules setup and reconfiguration for quick settlement of various situations in the fulfillment locations (such as lack of workforce or when one location is less affected than another one).