As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, governments all over the world have had to put in place various measures in order to safeguard both local and international populations from this coronavirus.
So far these protective measures have included countries going into lockdown, factories being closed indefinitely, and travel being heavily restricted. Public health and safety has become the top priority world over. Economic production has had to take the back seat as we literally fight for our lives.
Naturally, these measures will significantly impact the dropshipping industry that heavily relies on free movement of goods. As manufacturers, suppliers, and logistics companies continue to suffer disruptions to their operations from the above-mentioned measures, this means that if you own a dropshipping store, your products are very likely to experience extensive delays on their way to your customers.
It’s a grim and uncertain new reality
China is a major global shipping hub. However, even as factories there begin to slowly reopen, many logistics companies have slowed their operations down to trickle, forcing some cargo terminals to shut down due to low volume. Air transport has also taken a huge hit, with shipping services severely affected, and passenger services (which also usually carry cargo) coming to a near complete hault.
At this stage, no one knows for sure when manufacturers and suppliers will be able to resume normal operations. Some estimates suggest that lockdowns might need to last over a year. Furthermore, we might never know the old “normal” again. One of the World health Organization’s top experts has even revealed that coronavirus is not likely to completely go way, but rather keep resurging in smaller waves.
…but there’s some good news!
Fortunately for dropshipping, packages don’t pose any health risk to customers. The CDC has found no evidence to suggest that this virus has been transmitted through imported goods and packages.
This means that despite all the delays and restrictions hindering global trade in this time as explained above, whatever goods manage to get shipped do not present a COVID-19 danger to the recipients.
While this coronavirus has been found to be transmitted very easily from one person to another via respiratory droplets from coughs or sneezes, it doesn’t generally don’t survive for long on surfaces.
A recent study from UCLA suggests that the COVID-19 virus can survive for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two or three days on plastic and stainless steel. This means that the risk of it spreading via products or packaging that have been shipped over several days or weeks is more or less non-existent.
This might actually be the best time ever to get into dropshipping
On top of the usual low barriers to entry thanks to the low cost of setting up a Shopify store, seasoned dropshippers are having to scale back on their operations due to the aaforementioned shipping issues.
Also, the fear, uncertainty and economic anxiety surrounding this pandemic is discouraging many potential new entrants from starting out. This means that for the few brave entrepreneurs who are willing to take the risk of entering the business now, the competition is going to be lower than ever.
Furthermore, with many brick and mortar businesses having to close their doors and people spending more time than ever at home in order to comply with the necessary social distancing measures, we are all spending way more time on the internet and are therefore more likely to engage in online shopping.
This means that dropshipping businesses that manage to gain and/or expand their foothold in the market during this pandemic will be primed for massive success once it clears and lockdowns are lifted.
Below are the top 5 things you should be doing for your Shopify store during this COVID-19 crisis.
1. Prepare for Delays
With many manufacturing and logistics facilities severely restricted or temporarily closed, you need to more attention than ever to your supply chain before continuing to run paid ads and take orders.
You should know which country your dropshipping products are being shipped from, how much stock your dropshipping supplier still has remaining, and whether or not they will manage to restock.
You should also know which carrier you are using, and how they are affected by the various government restrictions that are being put on transportation. If you can, have a backup supplier in another country.
Communicate with your dropshipping supplier, but work on the assumption that your products will not be shipped on time. And that even if they are shipped promptly, there might still be delays due to disruptions to domestic shipping in the destination country. Hope for the best but prepare for the worst.
2. Nail Your Customer Service
This is the time to shine when comes to having great customer service. It’s extremely important that you stay upfront, transparent and honest with your customers about the situation at hand. The last thing people need now is dishonest and/or unclear promises or excuses from the businesses they deal with.
Inform them to expect delays in shipping, keep them updated with whatever information you have about their products that are being shipped and also prepare to offer refunds on their purchases.
Fortunately, now more than ever, customers are willing to understand having to endure delays because everyone knows it’s a global crisis. There’s no need to promise unrealistic delivery times you can’t fulfill.
3. Optimize Your SEO, Social Media and Email Marketing
Now is the time to optimize your homepage and your product pages, drop your site loading speed and focus on streamlining your digital marketing efforts – from SEO to social media to email marketing.
This pandemic has created a unique content marketing opportunity as people are spending more time on their phones and computers. Now is the time to write engaging, optimized blog posts to bring traffic to your Shopify store, build your brand and offer added value to your customers in form of useful tips.
These SEO blog posts can provide the foundation for you to build a strong social media marketing campaign across various channels as they provide shareable content to publish on these platforms.
Now is also the time to polish your email marketing especially strong email sequences to ensure that none of your visitors slip through the cracks. You should also consider revamping the look of your Shopify store with a sleek, attractive layout. The Debutify theme comes in perfectly handy for this.
4. Learn New Dropshipping Skills and Knowledge
Whether you’re new to dropshipping or you have been doing it for a while, you should take this time to learn as much as you can about highly relevant topics like paid advertising, social media marketing, store design and branding so that once all this is behind us, you are set to hit the ground running.
Upskilling is always a good idea, especially in this period when you have so much time to spare. There are many courses, YouTube videos, articles and eBooks available to teach you new ideas, skills and tips. This will also keep you distracted from the anxiety that inevitably surrounds this coronavirus pandemic.
5. Stay Safe and Healthy
Don’t forget that as the primary human resource of your dropshipping business, you’re its most vital and important asset. Your health is extremely critical to the success of your ecommerce store in this time.
Make sure to follow the prescribed measures of avoiding the coronavirus and reach out for treatment as soon as you feel any symptoms appearing. Your mental health is extremely important too, especially given how stressful the whole situation is. Exercise regularly, eat healthy and get enough sleep.