COVID-19 has been one of the most unexpected impacts of this year. As of March 28th 2020, COVID-19 has affected over 7,00,000 people worldwide. With many countries such as Italy, India, USA, etc. in an emergency lockdown state, it’s not difficult to determine the effects that this virus has on the global economy.
As for the impact on e-commerce, we really can’t say that the industry is experiencing a complete fallout like the others. Online sales have taken a hit, but aren’t completely down.
More than the sales factor itself, every seller is now entrusted with a ginormous responsibility of safeguarding the health of himself, his employees, his partners and of course, his customers.
With the pandemic having spread to over 100+ countries now, it’s important to handle every step along the way with safety as paramount. It is also in this time that online sellers have to deliver to their customers, despite the circumstances (especially if they’re selling essentials).
We, at Razorpay Thirdwatch, are partnered with merchants across the country who are at the crossroads of what to do next. But worry not! During these tough times, we’ve drafted a list of safety measures so you can focus on the important tasks.
Sanitize every place that you work out of
This includes shipment centres, inventories, warehouses and all workspaces that your organization works out of. Sanitization is a top priority for everyone, especially those in the e-commerce sector, considering the far-reaching geographical capabilities of the industry.
Here are some sanitary precautions that you can undertake to ensure safety:
- Regular screening of all warehouse personnel
- Frequent sanitisation of the warehouse
- Limiting the number of working and maintaining appropriate social distancing
- Exercising heavy caution on the entry and exit of said locations
- An emergency phone line to contact the hospital or police station, if required
- Maintaining a register of all visitors
Opt for contactless delivery
In the wake of the nationwide 21-day lockdown, many e-commerce and hyperlocal delivery companies have opted for ‘contactless delivery’. With this initiative, customers can ask the delivery partner to leave their package in a secure location, from where the former can pick it up.
This move is especially important during these tough times where it is difficult to predict the spread of coronavirus. As the nation of 1.3 billion people shut down, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said India’s COVID fight could make or break the global war. WHO said India has a tremendous capacity to deal with the pandemic as it has experience of eradicating smallpox and polio. (Source)
Contactless delivery can go a long way in containing the spread of COVID-19 and protects both your courier partner and the end customer.
Provide training on sanitization
In these testing times, the biggest threat to society is perhaps, ignorance. It’s important that every single person is well informed to fight this effectively.
Government officials have adopted various training and awareness procedures for staying safe. This includes training on how to wash your hands, how to wear a mask, how to stay away from infected surfaces, how to deliver using contactless delivery, etc.
If you cannot conduct a training session, we suggest that you deliver the information through a handbook.
Make sure your employees’ health is covered
It’s essential not to underestimate every single worker, delivery partner, doctor, healthcare professional and sanitary worker for their service during these difficult times. Make sure to check on your employees’ insurance, incentives for extra hours and a family cover, too.
As of 28th March 2020, the government has also allotted INR 1.7 lakh crore to compensate wages for daily and mobile workers nationwide. This just goes to show the level of attention required to make sure everyone’s safe during this crisis.
Collaborate with shipping aggregators
With a nationwide e-commerce ban on non-essentials, it has become essential to make use of every option available. When this crisis is over, we can expect e-commerce sellers all over the country to widely collaborate with shipping aggregators in order to deliver safely to all parts of the country. In any case, shipping aggregators can work well for hyperlocal delivery companies, too.
The advantages of partnering with a shipping aggregator are to reduce the workload on your internal team and to ensure a clean, hygienic process end-to-end. Since most companies are operating at minimal functionality, you will be able to choose an alternate courier partner without wasting any time.
Keep customer support paramount
Due to this intense nationwide lockdown, there is no denying the level of reigning chaos. This has mainly arisen from confusion among the general public about the availability of essential and medical products.
However, the government has clarified multiple times that essentials such as grocery, electricity, gas, etc. would be available. However, from hyperlocal service providers such as Zomato, BigBasket and Swiggy, we can learn that there is still a significant level of panic and chaos ensued when a portion of the orders don’t get fulfilled.
To ensure customer satisfaction and general peace amongst customers, make sure that customer support is available round the clock. Customer service at whim can make sure that the customer and the seller are constantly in touch.
Transparency is essential
A shining beacon of light during the chaos of delivery is the tracking facility. A live tracking status that updates the customer can go a long way in reducing confusion about the order status.
Make sure the customer is informed about every step along the way– order confirmation, merchant details, delivery status, refund status if any, etc.
Although there is no definite ETA on when this crisis will end, it’s heartwarming to see people all over the world come together as one to fight this deadly pandemic. We at Razorpay, urge every merchant to follow strict guidelines and secure every touchpoint to curb this outbreak as much as we can.
Please contact the Razorpay Support team to check out how we can help your business in this situation.