One of the main buzzwords around the current pandemic crisis has been “unprecedented.” With nothing like COVID-19 to compare to in the last 100 years, governments, businesses, retailers, healthcare, and more are trying to navigate nearly blind.
In the economy up until February and March 2020, companies were able to deal with demand because they’d more or less predicted it based on tracking prior sales, trends year over year, and other market variables. However, the changes in demand that began mid-February were entirely off the scale of predictability because this pandemic is an event no business could have seen coming.
Pressures are rising, especially for small ecommerce businesses, but hope is not lost. Amid the pressures, there are opportunities to maintain profitability and survive until the economy reopens and begins to stabilize.
The Unpredictable Growth Factors
As stores began to close in March, ecommerce ordering spiked. Not all spikes were in essential items, suggesting that some reactive impulse spending was occurring on top of the quest to stock up on toilet paper and hand sanitizer.
This growth is largely attributable to closing brick-and-mortar stores, as well as shortages that resulted from China closing its borders, and the United States limiting overseas shipments. In fact, online orders were up 108 percent year over year as early as February. But as quarantines continue, multiple factors could change how consumers shop online and how smaller ecommerce retailers are able to continue advertising to drive business. Rising unemployment will pull spending back to needs versus wants. Retailers that are battling supply chain issues may struggle to guarantee order delivery.
Easy Ways to Ease the Pressure
There are some quick ways that small business ecommerce retailers, especially, can help mitigate the pressure caused by the shutdowns, shortages, and supply chain struggles:
- Reorganize your products on your site. Which products are in higher demand? Structure your landing pages and browsing around those, especially highlighting things you are confident can be packed and shipped quickly. Provide the most accurate shipping information possible.
- Closely manage inventory. Maintain customer confidence by being upfront about your availability. Canceling orders or sending incomplete because you lack inventory won’t reflect well on your brand, and shoppers will go elsewhere and possibly never return, even when the pandemic pressures ease.
- Recommend alternatives. Know what other products you have that will work as well in place of your top-sellers. Even if you have full inventory of both, customers will appreciate the opportunity to price compare. If you are sold out of their first choice, an alternative will help keep their business.
- Check carrier options. Are shippers in your area limiting deliveries or pickups? Stay on top of these changes and plan accordingly or contact your carriers directly to see if there’s a way to negotiate a better solution.
- Use live chat. A web-based live chat helps handle customer questions and issues quickly, especially if your customer service team is working remotely.
- Communicate your COVID-19 realities. Be up front with your shoppers about fulfillment times, product availability, and any other changes your business is making to accommodate both your employees’ safety and your customers’ needs. Customers may be willing to wait a few more days for a product if you’ve told them ahead of time what to expect.
Keep Up With the Help of IN-SYNCH Integration
As smaller ecommerce retailers are reeling from the near-constant changes in supply chain processes, Amazon FBA inventory restrictions and re-openings, and more, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the pressures. Be assured that plenty of loyal customers want to continue supporting your brand, and doubly so if you’re a small business. Continue to communicate through chats, emails, and social media to build the relationships that will help sustain your business through and beyond this current crisis.
Need help keeping track of inventory, managing 3PL or 4PL carriers, or monitoring third-party carts such as Amazon? It’s easy to do with IN-SYNCH® Sage 100 and Sage 100cloud integration by ROI. Integrate information across ecommerce, third-party carts, Sage 100 and Sage 100cloud, and nearly any other system you can think of. With IN-SYNCH real-time data synchronization, you can easily keep a finger on the pulse of your most important information to build and protect your business through these trying times and into the future.
Find out how IN-SYNCH can build your process automation. Talk to an integration expert now.