Business Continuity Plan during Covid-19 for Ecommerce Industry 2020

By Reshma / In Covid-19, Ecommerce, Webinar / November 17, 2020 / 6 min read

Growing the business and making profits become the tip of the iceberg during this pandemic as opposed to handling the broken supply chain, a competition that’s going overboard and the rising need to pivot your business models.

As part of the Business Continuity Plan during the COVID-19 Webinar Series, we interviewed three e-commerce veterans whose names have almost become a vernacular in our lives especially since the pandemic — Bigbasket and Zivame.

Introducing our Panelists

  1. Yash Dayal – CTO, Zivame
  2. Tejas Vyas – Director of Product, Bigbasket
  3. Sekhar Sudhamsh – Lead Product Manager, Zivame
  4. Siddharth Sharma – Head of Marketing, Verloop.io

In this webinar, our panelists talk about how they aligned their business goals with customer experience even during these unprecedented times. They also share their key takeaways from e-commerce 2020 and customer support that could help you achieve it as well.

The shift in consumer psychology

The huge shift in the shopping behavior of the customers has been mainly due to anxiety. The need to stock up the essentials besides the long-tail items such as your shampoo, oil, and other non-essential items drove the customers too anxious. Business operations demanded quick solutions and changes to be made in their supply chain models to cope-up with the exponentially growing demand and competition. 

“Create an element of trust” — Tejas Vyas

With e-commerce pertaining to the physical delivery of groceries and products, it has become imperative to build great trust with the consumers. Right from adding the products to the cart to make the payment to tracking the order and receiving the delivery, consumers expect a good level of sophistication in their buying experience.

There are a plethora of e-commerce businesses that cropped up during these unprecedented times. With the word spreading easily, businesses just can’t afford to make any kind of compromise in any of these key areas. To strike the right balance between your exponentially growing demand and competition, remember you are expected to not just understand but serve according to your consumers’ thought process.

Pivoting your business for the best customer experience

It’s been observed that consumers are becoming more interested in safety, experience, and comfort as a result of the pandemic.

“Provide Omnichannel Experience for your customers. Be where they are”, says Yash

One pivot would be to start working on focussed execution. With location and order details in hand, delivery could be prioritized based on the health of the zone and the urgency of the order. Another pivot would be to ensure new supply chain models for customers who belonged to the senior citizen category or were quarantined. The business could create an exclusive customer support channel to which the customers from this category could call and talk to. A lot of e-commerce businesses are being led by these new business models, which could be conducive to short-term survival along with long-term resilience and growth. 

Key Takeaways from E-commerce 2020

#1 — In the end, it all boils down to Trust & CX

The sudden skew in consumer behavior demands overhauling and amending your supply chain model. Remember, the goal is not to keep this as a one-off transaction between you and your customer. Hence, tying these changes back to the customer experience is the key to retain them even after the panic buying/ online-shopping trend subsides post COVID-19.

#2 — Understanding user behavior to understand the sales pattern

It’s natural to see a dip in sales/conversion. The shifts in customer habits have sure contributed to such changed behaviors. Buyers have become skeptical about various things. If your buyers are adding the products to the cart but are dropping off just before checking out, you should probably consider closely analyzing their behavior.

Identify which part of the sales funnel attributes to the friction. Sekhar also added that in the process of identifying this bottleneck it was evident that the buyers had trust issues with the garment they were looking to purchase from any vendor in general. While purchasing intimate clothing, people are not wary of their own body shape and sizes, which led to skepticism especially around the size, fit, and return options. So Zivame came up with the concept of Fitcodes. We shall see that in a bit.

#3 — Baking your customers’ priority into your business model

Buying into the thought process means buying into their priorities. If safety is their priority, so should yours be too. Shifting gears to a completely new distribution model — Public/Community distribution is one great exemplification to cite from Bigbasket. Followed by Contactless Delivery.

In the case of Zivame, the magnitude of impact that Cash-on-Delivery has had is immense. Reiterating on our takeaway #2, running an experiment of analyzing user behavior allowed Zivame to proactively talk to their customers and identify the bottleneck in the existing business model. This gave birth to the concept of revoking COD though it seemed counterintuitive at the time. 

Sekhar and Yash said that it was discovered that the dip in sales during the April-May stint was due to the uncertainty in the delivery timeline which was correlated with the Zone health. 

#4 — Prioritize and Build Quickly

Sekhar and Yash also told us that the idea of rolling out the Order Flow System helped them streamline their delivery process and was conducive to a  focused execution. If an order is from a red zone and entails an essential item, the delivery could go out else it remains on hold.

Tejas describes how Bigbasket’s servers were hit with 10x more requests than normal on the day the Indian Govt. announced lockdown. With their support and delivery folks flying back to their hometowns, they were at operational efficiency as low as 20% of usual.

Focusing on the need of the hour and building it quickly keeps your business resilient to the high demand and competition. 

“Do more with less” — Tejas Vyas

#5 — Staying ahead by constantly innovating 

Sekhar brought up the interesting concept of Fitcodes — a size chart curated considering the three important parameters such as body fit, the right fit for outerwear, and the right fit for the occasion. This helped in maintaining accuracy in delivery to a good extent.

#6 — Delivering to perfection

It’s okay to under-deliver. Don’t get it wrong. Quality over quantity is the underlying rationale. Ensure that customers receive what exactly they asked for and not something that’s quick to get them returned.

Zivame freed the warehouse clogs by reducing churns up to a good 25-27% with an increase in repeat purchase through the concept of ‘Fitcodes’.

Key Takeaways for customer support in 2020

#1 — Listen to your customers

Trying to understand what’s inducing emotions like anxiety, panic and low trust in your customers can help you identify the opportunities for stimulating a positive customer experience. When you connect with your customers, ask them pointed questions, and read their pulse.

Ask them, 

  1. What could we do to get you up to speed to start purchasing our products?
  2. Are there any safety concerns that are stopping you from purchasing?
  3. What kind of safety measures do you like to add to our existing protocols?
  4. How do you define the urgency of your order?

#2 — Be Empathetic

Talk to select customers to understand their pain points and try to be as empathetic as possible. When you empathize with your customers, there’s quite a huge room for innovation and building better business models because there are no better advisors than your customers.

#3 — Automate! Automate! Automate!

The customer support folks being the heroes without capes need to spend their time effectively. As the customer base expands and the user needs grow, it becomes exponentially hard to add more and more agents. Businesses have to start automating as much as possible. Implementing chatbots can allow agents to solve for more new use cases as the redundant ones can be solved by the bot itself.

“Automate Routine Activities” – Sekhar

A chatbot can be a gamechanger especially in the areas of Product discovery, Virtual shopkeeping — understanding user-profiles, and recommending suitable products for them. As customers are looking for products on every channel, the need to be omnipresent is also increasing rapidly. However, you don’t want to spend your time answering repetitive questions such as — where’s my order, when can I expect delivery, etc. Focusing on support automation can help you save ample time and resources as all the redundant requests can be taken care of by your bot, while you could spend more time on improving your customer experience.

Voila! That’s our panelists’ inputs on e-commerce in 2020 for you!

If you’re interested in knowing what our panelists answered in the rapid-fire round, do check this video out. 🙂

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Reshma

Product Marketing Specialist

Bridging the gap between customer support and automation. Loves Filter coffee and long weekends.