How to Adapt Your Business for Online Order Delivery—Quickly
According to research, the COVID-19 pandemic will make a substantial percentage of consumers turn to online shopping. For example, in South Korea, 70 percent of consumers say they plan to shop online.
The figures for other countries are also impressive—42 percent in Spain, 41 percent in German, 39 percent in Russia, and 36 percent in France, as revealed by a recent study.
In other words, retailers stand a fair chance of making up for lost in-store sales by setting up a dynamic online ordering system.
If you are not familiar with online ordering and deliveries, the switch to the increasingly popular mode of selling can, at first sight, be scary. However, as we hope to illustrate in this brief article, it needn’t be! Let’s overview some of the steps you could take to speedily move your fulfillment operations online.
Step #1: Sales and Order Capture
Assuming that your business can accept credit and debit cards, you will need to sign up with an eCommerce company such as BigCommerce or Shopify so that you can create an enticing online store.
Both of these platforms include checkout facilities in their packages, and both have free trial options, with Shopify offering a special trial stretching to 90 days as a response to COVID-19 disruption.
Step #2: Arrange Your Warehousing
If your brick-and-mortar outlets have been closed to consumers by a government-ordered lockdown, back rooms or even sales floors can be transformed into temporary mini-distribution centres. The store entrance can serve as a collection point for click and collect sales.
Should you own or rent a warehouse, you will need to decide whether to use it as your main distribution centre or to transfer goods from it to your temporary distribution centre(s).
Since speed is of the essence in online ordering and delivery, your decision should be based on proximity to your customers and the shortest delivery times.
Your customer collection point, however, should be set up at your store rather than at the warehouse, since regulars would prefer to pick up their orders in familiar surroundings.
If none of these warehousing options are practical, one recourse is to search for an online fulfillment company that can receive, store, process, and dispatch your inventory for you.
Step #3: Organise Your Last-mile Delivery System
If you already have a delivery operation in place, you may need to re-organise it to be able to cope with the extra stresses placed on it by online ordering. Before investing in extra vehicles and extra drivers, however, you may wish to test the extent of online demand for your products.
In this case, or if you currently operate an exclusively in-store sales model, it may be prudent to sign up with a specialised last-mile 3PL provider.
It’s perhaps timely that an emerging crop of tech-first delivery companies are offering online integration with ecommerce stores and their checkout solutions. This enables the providers to receive delivery orders electronically.
By signing up with such a provider, you could quickly gain access to a fleet of vehicles and drivers, ready to collect orders from your distribution point(s), and carry them—typically using contactless-delivery technology—to your customers’ doors.
Step #4: Advertise and Market Your Online Operation
With the bulk of the world’s population under stay-at-home orders, consumers are turning in droves to ecommerce for products they would normally have bought from the shop floor.
It is therefore essential that your enterprise appears as high up as possible in Internet searches. You also need to ensure that your existing customers know they can now order your products online and either collect them or receive them as home deliveries.
If you have had only limited experience in online marketing, we recommend that you make use of the services of a specialist in this field.
This is where offshore virtual assistants, who have extensive marketing skills, work for reasonable rates, and can be hired by the hour/day/week or longer, come into their own.
Step #5: Follow all Hygiene Protocols to the Letter
All social interaction, in whatever form, will carry with it the risk of COVID-19 contagion for as long as the pandemic continues to ravage the global population.
It is, therefore, a vital, ethical, and often legal requirement that business hygiene protocols recommended by the World Health Organisation and the Centers for Disease Control and Protection are rigorously followed during the collection and delivery processes.
Where Consumer-Spend is Going During the Crisis
According to Criteo, sales of consumer electronics such as webcams, computer modems, and educational software are rocketing, along with pet supplies, fresh food, and groceries. Other surveys show that sales of big-ticket luxury goods, fashion items, and cosmetics are taking a dive.
But regardless of how things play out with COVID-19, economists are declaring ecommerce as the future of shopping. That’s perhaps as good a reason as any—even if you had not previously considered doing so—to make a fast transition from in-store to online retail, and restore the link with your customer base.
Our consultants have helped many enterprises navigate the various processes involved in ecommerce logistics. Why not contact us to discuss how we can help you quickly reshape your business model for efficient online-retail distribution?