How your online store can reduce the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19).
The year of 2020 began with a global huge concern: the appearance of a new family of viruses and a new disease: coronavirus and COVID-19.
Having its origins in China, one of the largest manufactures in the world, it did not take long for the epidemic to affect the world of eCommerce, especially dropshippers who import their products directly from China to their customers and who saw much of their suppliers close doors and quarantine.
However, many stores that work with their own stocks whether or not they import their products from China may face some difficulties during the current outbreak of the disease. In this article, we will give you some tips on how to try to minimize the impact of Coronavirus and Covid-19 on your business, until everything is normalized.
What is Coronavirus and Covid-19?
According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that may cause illness in animals or humans. COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by the recently discovered coronavirus. Transmission occurs through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when someone with COVID-19 coughs or exhales.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness and a dry cough. However, some patients may also experience pain, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. And, although there is still no preventive vaccine or cure for COVID-19, currently, the treatment consists of caring for and alleviating the symptoms of the disease, which has led most infected people to recover.
With regard to prevention of the disease, information is often mismatched, especially regarding the effectiveness of using protective masks over the nose and mouth. The World Health Organization reports that there is no evidence that masks do protect people from coronavirus and indicates that “the most effective ways to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 are to clean your hands frequently, cover your cough with the curve of the elbow or tissue and keep a distance of at least 1 meter from people who are coughing or sneezing”.
This article is not intended to be a guide about the disease, its symptoms and forms of treatment and prevention. For this reason, we recommend anyone who seeks more complete information to regularly visit the World Health Organization website.
How the Coronavirus epidemic is affecting eCommerce
Probably the first and biggest impact felt by eCommerce happened among online stores that import their products from China. On the one hand, several factories closed for a quarantine period, which caused delay and uncertainty regarding the shipping of products and the deadline for doing so. On the other hand, many consumers have expressed concern about receiving products from the country, often canceling their purchases when asking stores about the origin of the products, if they are in fact of Chinese origin.
In addition, with the epidemic still spreading among countries, many governments are on the alert with some even considering closing borders. This offers a huge impact for cross-border eCommerce, since with closed borders, it will not be possible to receive products from manufacturers in other countries, nor to send products to international customers.
Carriers like UPS and FedEx have warned that their operations may also be affected, especially on routes that include regions with many cases of infections.
However, the fact is that everything is very new and there are few certainties. We are all navigating this moment together at the same time, and some disruption predictions can be confirmed, while others are not. In the meantime, what can be done is the development of a plan that we call “late prevention”, since real prevention should have already been done.
The fact is that, when an epidemic arises, it is not really possible to prevent it, since it was not possible to predict it in the first place. What we then call late prevention are some actions that online stores can take to try to lessen the impact of Coronavirus on their sales and on their brand. So, when everything is under control, and we hope it will happen soon, your store has not only remained strong, but is also prepared to grow.
3 Tips to decrease the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) on your eCommerce.
- Search for new suppliers
If your main suppliers are Chinese, it is better to research and look for alternatives in countries less affected by the epidemic, before being left with a dangerously low volume in stock. This will possibly have an impact on your costs and there are two alternatives here: pay for the difference or pass it on to your customers.
If you decide to pay the difference it is very important to calculate very well how feasible this is for your online store. Although some Chinese factories are already returning to operation, it is difficult to say how long it will take until everything is completely back to normal. So, the question you must ask yourself is: can my business survive by changing suppliers, without changing the final price of products and for how long?
If you realize that it is not possible to afford the possible increase in the purchase costs of your products, the alternative will be to pass them on, at least in part, to your customers, which is always very delicate. This will be a big test of your brand’s strength. Our advice, if this is your only alternative, is to be extremely transparent and make it clear to your audience the reason for the change. We are all following the development of the COVID-19 epidemic and many of your customers may even feel safer if they know of your concern about seeking alternatives to the situation. They even may not mind paying a little more for your product.
The positive side is that, for the future, you will already have a more diverse choice of suppliers, which is always a good idea for any eCommerce.
- Strengthen your local sales
If your online store has a large international audience, it is possible that your shipments will be more affected, since entry to regions with a high incidence of infections has been progressively restricted, such as Italy, for example.
In order for your your eCommerce to do not suffer such a sudden drop, the ideal is to put in place a plan to strengthen your local market. Campaigns for discounts on products and also on shipping costs can help your online store sell more in your own region, which may balance the gap of foreign consumers. Creating a new base of local consumers will also be beneficial in the long run, as these people will always be able to access your products and, moreover, they will reach them more quickly due to the short distance the products have to travel.
In places like the United States, for example, there is even an expectation that eCommerce will end up seeing its sales increase in the coming weeks, but this might be felt more strongly in the areas of food and fresh produces.
- Use the power of information
As with many other factors in eCommerce, information and transparency can be the key to overcoming this troubled period. If the epidemic ends up, for some reason, delaying your orders, notify your customers as soon as possible, preferably making clear the reason for the delay.
If you sell products of Chinese origin and people are afraid to receive them, for example, inform that WHO itself indicates the following:
“It is very unlikely that the virus will persist on a surface after being moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperatures.”
If your customers still decide that they no longer want the product and ask for a refund, do your best to fulfill their wish. Because if you don’t, in addition to possibly having to deal with extra costs in relation to a product that was not accepted at the time of delivery, you can still lose those customers forever.
Are your products local? Even better. More than ever it is important to make your origin clear, which can make consumers feel safer and more confident.
Taking into account the fact that COVID-19 is a recent disease, it is still very difficult to predict the next steps to be taken by the governments of each nation. Equally, it is also difficult to fully anticipate its possible effects or predict how long they will last.
It is a fact, however, that information is as important as precaution. Taking measures that are beneficial to your business and your customers not only now, but also in the medium and long term is, so far, the best way to position yourself. Seeking diversification of suppliers, strengthening local sales and maintaining a clear and transparent communication with consumers are measures that can strengthen your eCommerce not only in the face of the possible effects of Coronavirus, but at any time.