Almost every company involved in global trade feels the impact of COVID-19. Around the world businesses are impacted by reductions in labor, production disruption, and finished goods, As B2B businesses are preparing to reopen and for the long-term effects of the crisis, here are things you can do right now to minimize the impact of coronavirus on your business.
- Understand that business as usual is not an option. Create a response team with a supply chain leader that reports directly to the CEO. Allocate financial resources, communicate top-down team responsibilities, and ensure everyone understands every action needed to carry out the plan.
- Remember your B2B customers and their customers are relying on you to run smoothly. Synchronize your business systems and distribution centers to ensure online product information is constantly updated in real-time.
- On your website or purchase portal, clearly mark out-of-stock items and ensure they cannot be ordered. During times of uncertainty, customers need the reassurance that items are in stock and will be shipped if they are ordered. If items are out of stock, provide a realistic ship date.
- Review complex pricing or shipping rules to ensure they don’t appear to increase profit during the pandemic. This perception negatively affects the customer experience and future sales.
- Reassure your customers. During any crisis, everyone has more questions than answers. Keep customers abreast of their order fulfillment and delivery. Clients are cautious about visiting offices and facilities. Inform customers about how you are keeping employees safe and how you are handling and shipping products.
- Communicate any changes in product in delivery and shipping, including changes in suppliers or logistics. Share new hours of operation and any areas of business, that will be moved online.
- Consider creating a portal or blog to keep customers updated as the situation develops. For example, Delta Airlines hosts a coronavirus portal to answer common questions.
- Check out the COVID-19 response toolkit from the US Chamber of Commerce to help you get started.
- While customer demand may drop, it may also switch to other markets. Monitor sales and ensure product data stays discoverable through search and suggestions. Add up-to-date links to relevant authorities that help explain your disruptions or shortages.
How Businesses Manage COVID-19 and B2B Commerce
Coronavirus is affecting every business, manufacturer, distributor, and retailer differently. Regardless of the industry, B2B merchants must do all they can to minimize losses during this difficult time. Here is how COVID-19 effects B2B commerce and how B2B web merchants are dealing with it.
Distributors Must Anticipate Slower Sales
Your customers are feeling the effect of COVID-19 on their businesses. They are employing lean principles associated with reduced waste and just-in-time inventory. “When the global supply chain slows or shuts down for a period of time, they can’t get the parts they need when they need them,” says Gary Selvera, president. “So, they must also slow or shut down their operations.”
Daren Froeschle, marketing manager Warehouse 1 agrees. “The impact will continue to hit U.S. manufacturers that depend on foreign parts that are incorporated into US finished products.” He recommends diversifying suppliers to increase stock to meet customer needs in the coming months.
Don’t Wait to Act
Organizations are rarely agile. Managers may resist changes, and this leads to inaction throughout the organization. “If anyone thinks they can wait on their eCommerce strategy, the coronavirus situation should spell out otherwise”, says Yoav Kutner, CEO of OroCommerce. The B2B eCommerce environment is unpredictable and businesses cannot afford to miss out on increased sales wherever they can find them.
Even if distribution centers can cope with strong demand, if inventory isn’t digitized and synced with online customer portals, a business may oversell or miss a sales opportunity. “Right now, B2B needs all the help they can get,” continues Yoav.
How Will You Manage the Effects Of COVID-19?
As everyone pulls through this difficult time, it’s important to remember this is all temporary. The Allied Financial Corp. team is here to help small-to-medium B2B companies with financing during this difficult time. Most importantly, we hope you stay safe and healthy.