man carrying box using fork liftr

Supermarkets are running out of ‘everything’
 and demand isnt just clear from looking at empty shelvesCustomers are also rushing to websites like Ocado where delivery slots are quickly filled up.

The word on social media is that if you are an online supermarket then you are on to a winner. This is actually true for any online business! Now is the time to prepare yourself, think out of the box, and push your services, but before we go into that – let’s talk about the supply chain.   


How is the supply chain affected? 

In short, the supply chain is the network connecting companies and consumers which allows for the manufacture and distribution of products. This includes getting raw materials to a factory, manufactured/prepared goods out to warehouses, and warehouse deliveries to retail outlets or purchases from outlets to the end consumer. 

It also goes further than this as the supply chain works in more than one way – items go back down the chain too (Returns/Refunds etc.) and so, right now, things are in a disrupted state whilst the demand side of the supply chain is still calming down.  Amazon are prioritising certain categories of products in their delivery network whilst Sainsburys and others are offering the preferred delivery slots to the more vulnerable groups of people. 

The current stockpiling mindset has led to a ‘greater than Christmas’ rush on certain products which makes it seem like the supply chain is broken. It isn’t. The stock is just not there in the retail outlet for it to be sold.  You can see evidence of the supply chain being intact with both the refilling of shelves AND the ability for online retailers to get goods into the hands of the consumer. 

There is a chance that the supply chain will be disrupted again in several ways: 

  1. Inability for ‘small freight’ couriers (such as DPD, Royal Mail etc.) to deliver to businesses or consumers on time due to manpower restrictions.  At this stage the routes for delivery will be streamlined and daily runs will probably move to every 2 days.

  2. Inability for larger haulage firms to move goods in the supply chain due to staff restrictions.  This is similar to the above but stops goods from moving between the different links in the supply chain.  This again would lead to scheduling and prioritisation amongst goods, causing minor disruption and some inconvenience.

  3. Greater demand on delivery/haulage services because of the greater number of remote workers leading to more items running through the courier networks.

What steps can online businesses take?

With the supply chain being disrupted, the best route to market is online and businesses need to be as prepared as possible in marketing their online presence. As an online retailer, you will likely be considering how you can make things easier for your customers to retain them now and beyond. Here are some suggestions: 

  • Speak to your customers – The thoughtful approach is especially appreciated right now and offering the most personal service you can shows customers that you appreciate them choosing your service. It’s also worth asking for understanding in advance about possible delays to deliveries since informed people will be calmer in these times.

  • Consider extending return periods – To address possible delays caused by disruption in the outlet-to-home section of the supply chain, extending return periods (just like at Christmas) can increase your chance of retaining customers.

  • Keep your social and website content moving  People are turning online for information and browsing now so use this chance to explain the steps your business is taking and provide updates on services. To further ensure customers are informed, you can add chat bots and widgets to your site. 
  • Be creative  If you can deliver locally then offer to do so. What businesses are active in your area? Working together on unique joint projects can not only provide a greater benefit to customers, but also show that you can adapt to overcome challenges. 

As well as adjusting existing methods, you may need to revisit decisions originally made as part of your business start-up idea and introduce completely new processes to thrive in this period. Some of these processes may be so effective that they become part of your standard way of working.


note worth remembering

Whilst the country appears to have been affected deeply, remember that not everyone is going to be ill and life will continue through the crisis. As shared across social media, many businesses have taken dramatic steps to support others. Initiatives like these make you truly stand out and the same can be said for taking action to provide the most efficient service possible. With suitable strategies in place, keep business going for as long as possible and if you want support online please let us know.

Related Post

We build beautiful websites that integrate seamlessly to your existing legacy systems.

Industry solutions

Let's connect

Email: info@evolveretail.com Phone: 0115 857 7745
Part of The Digital Maze Group. © 2021 Evolve Retail Limited – Privacy Policy