COVID-19 Online Retail

COVID-19 causes a surge in online retail

Whilst there is uncertainty for everyone at the moment worldwide, people need more than ever to be able to buy items online for home delivery, especially the elderly, the sick, the vulnerable and those self-isolating. With the expectation that the days, weeks and months ahead are to be very testing, supermarkets and other online retailers are determined to ‘do their bit’ to ensure people can still purchase supplies easily whilst still being able to socially distance themselves.

Online giant Amazon has seen a vast increase in online shopping and as a result has seen some products such as household staples and medical supplies go out of stock. With this in mind, Amazon have announced that they are temporarily prioritising these high-demand products, so that they can more quickly receive, re-stock, and deliver these products to customers. The company announced on Monday that it would be looking to hire as many as 100,000 additional warehouse and delivery employees to meet the increased demand.

Sainsbury’s supermarket has increased staffing at its warehouses and distribution centres, the number of lorries on the road delivering products to stores, and the number of its online delivery drivers, so that it can add in more online slots. Morrisons said it would increase the number of delivery slots by recruiting 2,500 extra pickers and drivers. It is also introducing a range of food parcels for order. Ocado has taken down its website temporarily to allow it to add additional delivery slots, as it too is unable to keep up with demand. Asda says it also intends to close its cafes and pizza counters to provide more space for staff.

The British Retail Consortium, which represents supermarkets, says they have had “well-rehearsed” contingency plans in place for years – since the SARS outbreak in 2003. “Supply chains are robust and we are getting food in,” a spokesperson said. Speaking on Tuesday, the British Prime Minister assured us: “We are absolutely confident our supply chains are working, and will work, and we will get farm-to-fork food supplies.”

Public Health England has said that people should plan ahead and think what they will need if they have to self-isolate for at least seven days. The advice is that they should ask friends or family to drop off anything they need or order supplies online. Any deliveries should be left outside their homes.

Of course, it isn’t just supermarkets that people need in times such as these. Pet, equestrian and farm supplies are also essential items for many of us. Leisure activities such as gardening could prove very popular to maintain physical and mental health as people find themselves compelled to spend more time at home this Spring. Our local B&Q store has also been very busy in recent days, perhaps as people make plans to tick off all those little jobs at home they have been meaning to do, but never usually get around to.

Now, more than ever, is the time to utilise your online business and consider what you can offer to help those in isolation or limiting their social interactions. Understanding that delivery is in high demand, people are happy to accept the delays rather than risk going out to shops and finding shelves stripped by those stockpiling goods. We are all very aware this situation could last for weeks and the one thing we have is time. Communicating with your customers to manage their expectations is key.

It is also important to inform your customers of the measures you are taking to protect them and your staff from the Coronavirus risk, such as use of hand washing or hand sanitiser, or leaving deliveries on the doorstep, ringing the doorbell and retreating to a safe distance. A good example of this is the pizza delivery favourite, Domino’s, who is advertising “contact free delivery” for all orders placed and paid for online.

Our websites can allow for a whole host of delivery options, such as free delivery by postcode or within a radius of your store. Contact us for any help you might need adjusting your delivery schemes, or adding coronavirus notices or information regarding your in-store and online Coronavirus policies.

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