Challenges in e-commerce fulfillment
Logistics is a critical success factor for online retailers and at the same time an area that is particularly sensitive in times like these. This sensitivity is mainly due to the fact that the physical presence of employees is required for order fulfillment and parcel shipment to be carried out. Based on the instructions of the authorities, many logistics service providers have already implemented measures to ensure that the safety and health of their employees is not endangered and that operational activities are maintained. Most parcel services have pandemic plans in place that are designed to maintain service despite restrictions if the virus spreads.
However, due to the severe restrictions, delays cannot be completely ruled out. For example, Switzerland’s largest online department store Digitec Galaxus had to postpone the release date of the new foldable smartphone Mate Xs from Chinese manufacturer Huawei from 16th to 20th of March.
The Corona crisis shows that online retailers must regularly review their supply chain and gives them the opportunity to optimize it for the future. One way to do this is to work with different suppliers, taking into account their geographical location, their capacities and their technological adaptiveness.
Another important factor is the turnover rate, which is usually relatively high in modern online trading. The aim is to keep the stock on hand as low as possible, which is why a real-time overview of the inventory is an essential part of logistics to avoid stock-outs. In times like these, however, it makes sense to increase storage capacities and to examine the supply chain for bottlenecks. Now is also the right time to contact the supplier and clarify how quickly deliveries in larger quantities can be made or deliveries can be blocked if marketing campaigns need to be postponed.
Delivery of parcels to online shoppers
As a result of the measures that have been taken, parcel delivery is currently made considerably more challenging by business closures, quarantine areas and security measures taken by the companies (e.g. access restrictions). As a result, a disproportionate number of parcels cannot currently be delivered. Parcel service providers therefore draw attention to the following:
- E-commerce companies should check whether the parcels can be delivered at the delivery address and should avoid sending parcels to known quarantine areas. Parcels that cannot be delivered due to above mentioned checks may have to be returned at a charge and without further notification by the shipping service provider.
Here you can find all current information about COVID-19 of the different shipping companies:
- Online shops are recommended to advise their customers to use the possibility of drop-off permits in order not to endanger their health and that of their suppliers.
- Parcel service providers currently largely dispense with the signature of the recipient when handing over parcels and handover letters. In order to avoid contact, the courier signs and the GPS data are compared with the delivery address.
- Due to the many undeliverable parcels, the return rate is likely to increase.
- Quarantine areas, border controls and border closures can lead to delays in delivery.
- Due to increased demand, service delays may occur.
Coronavirus transmission via parcels
A frequently asked question, especially by consumers, is whether the coronavirus can be transmitted via packages. As of now, there are no indications that packages and merchandise pose a risk of infection. Due to the low environmental stability, it is unlikely that the surface of the objects can be a source of infection.
Making the best of the situation – even if it is anything but easy
We hope, of course, that the consequences of the virus will not be as grievous and jarring as the worst-case-scenario suggests and, with the measures taken and the support of the medical staff, many lives as possible can be saved. In this context, it is important to stress once again that it is now crucial to stay at home and to protect not only oneself, but above all, others from infection. This article shows how the measures adopted can significantly influence the course of the pandemic and contain the spread of the virus in the best possible way.
At the same time, many e-commerce merchants are facing many hardships, which will lead to heavy sales losses for some. If possible, companies can reduce the operational business to standby mode and use subsidies to pay their employees etc. Entrepreneurs can try to use the crisis as an opportunity to develop new creative business models or products. Challenges like this one, often serve as a great platform for emergence of creative and innovative solutions, propelling society towards new heights.
When the operative business is shut down, capacities are created to tackle projects that would otherwise be postponed. E-commerce shops, for example, can grab the opportunity and revise product descriptions and thus take search engine optimization to a new level. In this way, a setup can be created that allows online merchants to quickly pick up speed again after the crisis has been overcome and ultimately benefit from it in the long run.
We wish everyone lots of perseverance and strength, but above all, health, for the upcoming weeks!