Watch the video, or read the Blog Post below.
As you may already know, a major part of world has been temporarily immobilized due to the global pandemic COVID-19. This meant that many businesses have ceased operations until the local government issues a go signal, or are at least operating online, because as the saying goes,
"When there's a will, there's a way."
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Fortunately for us as online businesses, we have been operating and interacting with our customers and team members via the Internet right from the start. However, that does not exclude us from experiencing any trouble with our operations.
Today, let us get a good idea of what is currently happening on a global scale, see how it affects our business, and what we can do in order to continue fulfilling order requests in the middle of a monumental crisis.
Overview: What is Happening with the World
As of March 30, 2020, the USA has the most number of confirmed COVID-19 cases (142,004), with the second country being Italy (97,689) followed by China (81,439).
In an attempt to prevent the virus from getting spread and ensuring the public's health and safety, nations have ordered lock downs or community quarantines, especially for those who are deemed "unessential," those who are not considered as frontliners who are working towards developing a cure and/or serving the public during these trying times. An article by CNN listed in detail the travel bans imposed by specific countries.
Take note of the travel bans. What does this mean for our business?
Effect of the Pandemic
Travel Ban: An order issued by the authorities to all the state ports to prohibit a person from entering or leaving a country according to a court or police order for the protection of individual interests in cases like child custody, debt failure, or criminal investigation.
Travel ban prohibits the banned person from leaving the country and gets him/her arrested while entering if the reason(s) for prohibition did not cease to exist.
So what does this mean for our business? Many couriers are immobilized and are prevented from handling our delivery requests (unless you are selling essential goods).
If we can still process orders but are unable to have them delivered via our usual couriers, how, then, can we ensure customer satisfaction and improve our brand's reputation and trustworthiness?
Fortunately, we still have a few other options.
ePackets and Special Line
ePacket is a global courier service that has made possible faster deliveries from countries like China, Hong Kong, and Korea to the U.S. ecommerce sellers - the biggest winners from this new shipping option, who previously had to wait weeks to receive their wholesale shipments or retail orders.
The thing is, knowing that COVID-19 originated from China, a lot of people would not want to receive items coming from said country. And ePackets are shipped across the world via passenger planes; because travel bans are being imposed in some areas, epackets are definitely taking a toll. If your supplier is affected by this problem, you have another option, and that is delivery via Special Line.
Special Line delivery is another shipping option that merchants use to ship packages from China. The main difference between ePacket and Special Line is that packages sent via Special Line are sent with air cargo to the destination country and uses local express shipping carrier or postal office for last mile delivery.
At an additional cost, you can process orders and have them delivered to your customers' doors without the hassle.
Special Line packages, upon arriving to the destination country, get new shipping details as shown below.
The information here tells us that the package came from the US. This covered up the fact that it is an international package, and the change in shipping details made it look like it came from a local source!
The only problem is that a lot of remote areas and areas outside the coverage of epackets and Special Line ship with a non-trackable service. When a deal between you and your supplier has been made, the package will be sent without any shipping information provided, so there's no actual way of guaranteeing your customers that their package will arrive soon.
However, if you are using epacket and Special Line and are having great success with it, there's no reason to discontinue using them.
Moreover, epackets and Special Line services have a few restricted products to put out for shipping. If you want to know more about these, join me in The Pirate Club and head on to Product Research Mastery Course > Shipping Methods > What products NOT to sell. The topic is pretty self-explanatory, but you can only gain access to this jewel by signing up for my monthly membership club (more details towards the end of this post!).
Now, with these shipping options still available, what else can you do to simplify your order fulfillment process amidst the global pandemic?
Succeeding Despite the Situation
Your world doesn't have to end just because the rest of it is immobilized. You are running an online business, and thus have the capacity to operate even when certain limitations are implemented. Here are some of the things you can do to be able to make a good profit despite the current worldwide situation:
Raise Prices or Promote Bundle Packages
View the crisis as an opportunity to generate more sales and revenue while still being able to offer products that you think would be of great help to your audience.
You can do this by increasing your prices and just telling your customers why. As an example,
"Due to the global panic caused by COVID-19, our couriers are unable to deliver your orders within the usual time periods we have provided. Thus, we have turned to other delivery options in order to continue to serve you and ensure that you will definitely get what you have paid for. Thank you for your understanding!"
You can also promote bundles of products that go together and offer them at a better rate. That way, you aren't just selling one product at a time; you're selling multiple items and are getting more money out of every transaction.
Work Closely With Your Current Suppliers
The key to getting your business through this pickle is close coordination with your suppliers. Exert that extra effort to reach out to them and ensure that they have enough stocks to meet the demands, and that they can and will ship orders across the globe.
Remember that you are running a dropshipping business. If your supplier is unable to process your order requests, you will lose your credibility as a trustworthy brand.
Find Credible Suppliers
If you find that your current supplier(s) is/are unreliable due to the global crisis, you're better off looking for those who can handle your needs. But don't connect with one just because you found a product that's worth selling; check their client history and background as a seller.
Check customer reviews and the number of orders they have received and processed. Customer reviews are, most of the time, honest and frank, and if many people have chosen to trust their brand, then it's a clear sign that you should, too.
Find Winning Products
Match the products that you wish to sell with what is currently trending and what you think people would need the most. See example below:
At the time of writing, people are encouraged to "work from home." Now, at the comfort of their own household, they might subconsciously ignore their posture, which promotes back pain. With that, it would be a good strategy to offer pain relief products (therefore the lumbar belt).
Again, you can offer a bundle package and include products that can help relieve other types of body pain (or even weight loss products). Think of every little thing that people can use whilst they are stuck at home.
Refer to Your Email List
Lastly, reach out to your clients and inform them of your store's updates in terms of pricing, shipping and new arrivals. Give them a reason to come back to your website.
The global panic should never affect the way you operate your business in one way or another. You are the leader of your team, and thus should always maintain composure and assure your team members that your business is going to operate as smoothly and efficiently as usual.
Here is a checklist that you can use for the proper organization of your business. Ask yourself the following questions before sealing a deal with a potential supplier.
- How many suppliers do I currently have? It is best to keep the number of your suppliers at a minimum for easy order management. This helps with the idea of bundling your products, as you only need to coordinate with a few suppliers in order to ship tons of products.
- Does the supplier have products that I want to sell? Yes, you may have found that one specific product on their store, but if that's the only good thing that they can offer, then you're better off looking for another supplier that offers that same product (trust me, there are a LOT of other better suppliers).
- Can the supplier be easily contacted? Make sure your suppliers are transparent and have placed their contact information on their website or web page. Also choose those who are quick to respond to your inquiries.
- Does the supplier have a lot of products to sell? This part is connected with the first item. Partnering with a supplier that offers a lot of profitable products will minimize your total number of suppliers.
The checklist also applies to lighter situations, during calmer and more peaceful times. In other words, times when the world is not shaken by a global crisis.
Pro Tip: Use AfterShip
In my opinion, Aftership is, and always will be, "The #1 Tracking Solution for eCommerce Businesses."
With it, you and your customers can keep track of ALL of deliveries and stay updated with auto-generated emails to ensure that a package will never get lost or neglected, despite the travel bans and quarantines.
What I do is I import all of my tracking numbers via a CSV file (obviously, you need to sign up for an account to access this feature). Then, AfterShip will automatically send updates to my respective customers via a chain of emails.
AfterShip also keeps track of the duration of each delivery: from the day it was shipped to the day the package arrived to your customer.
PSA: COVID-19 Tips
Whether you are stuck at home or can still go outside due to your own personal reasons, it is always best to perform your daily tasks with caution and keep your health and safety in mind. Here are the things you could do in order to help bend the curve, as per World Health Organization:
- Wash your hands frequently;
- Maintain social distancing;
- Avoid touching MEN (mouth, eyes, nose) (no pun nor any offensive content intended!);
- Observe proper respiratory hygiene (cover your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing);
- Self-quarantine when you have the symptoms and seek medical care; and
- Be informed of the latest news and updates.
By keeping yourself safe, you are also preventing other people from getting infected.
Let’s Wrap It Up!
The global pandemic has greatly impacted the economy of the world. A lot of businesses are forced to cease operations until further notice, while those that can still run and operate are losing sales because people are required — some only highly encouraged — to stay indoors. Thankfully, the Internet is a safe place, and we as sellers can still interact with our audience and, if lucky, process orders.
And even if we are able to generate sales, there still exists another problem, and that is shipping issues. Because specific countries are implementing total lockdowns, we cannot, at the moment, rely on some couriers to do their tasks as efficiently as they previously could (unless you are selling essential goods). ePackets and Special Line deliveries are still available, but you should expect their rates to skyrocket.
You should not, however, allow that to get in the way of your operations. As an online business that continues to provide for the needs and wants of the masses, the best thing you can do is to adjust accordingly — increase prices, exert even more effort to manage your whole team, and cooperate with your suppliers via constant and effective communication.
In these uncertain times, it is even more important to ensure your buyers that you are providing safe and guaranteed delivery services. Keep them well-informed and share shipping information as often as you can and set their minds at ease (at least in terms of their packages).
Before we end this post, I would again like to invite you to my monthly membership group, The Pirate Club, where you can get everything you would need to build a successful online store. By joining in and becoming a pirate yourself, you gain access to the following:
- The Pirate Academy;
- The Pirate Product App;
- The Pirate Community; and loads more!
Intrigued? The Pirate Club is now open with an early-bird pricing plan, so be sure to grab this super affordable deal before it expires!
If you have any more questions about shipping via ePackets and/or Special Line, CommerceHQ or anything regarding this video, feel free to personally contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also leave your comments and feedback below, and our team over at WagePirate will definitely get back to you with a response. For more reviews, news and updates, don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel!