The Inevitability of e-commerce

This pandemic and the eventual lockdown is a wakeup call to businesses that e-commerce/online visibility is inevitable (it actually has been for years). Those companies who have an online presence thrived and other companies who came in late have seen the benefits given we are still on lockdown now.

And make no mistake, after this lockdown, or when we are done with this pandemic, people will continue to be heavily reliant with online shops. Because let’s face it, people now realize the convenience and safety of online stores. So those who have only opened online stores/presence during the pandemic should keep it, and those who are not yet online should set it up now.

This pandemic also highlights the dire need for a good business resilience/business continuity plan. Something companies refer to as “Something we hope not to use, but is good to have.”

The business continuity plan does not end in planning but ensuring it is executed properly. Sample items to include are the following:
1. Employee welfare – this should always be first. May it be a pandemic, a martial law, civil unrest, etc.. you should first and foremost ensure that you have a well set of guidelines on how to ensure your employee’s safety.
2. Task reallocation – it should also be decided on how employees’ roles would change/shift. For example, if your business will move to an online-based shop, then your physical shop’s cashier may need to be reallocated to managing the finances/payments, doing audits, and confirmation of online payments/transactions. If your employees will move to a WFH setup, ensure that they have all the necessary equipment (computer/internet/etc)
3. Website upscale – If you are running an online shop and expects an increase in traffic (website visitors), you would want to consider upscaling it. Upscaling means adding resources (vCPU, etc or web servers) which can easily be done if you’re in the cloud. Upscaling also means adding/delegating resources that manage online transactions.
4. Resource/Stock security – Some businesses heavily rely on fresh produce (like restaurants), it is necessary that given the lockdown (or similar events) it may be hard to get ingredients. This step ensures that you communicate and secure products from suppliers. It will also be necessary to discuss cutting down the normal volume of purchased goods from your suppliers if necessary. Another critical item to check is the state of your current stock. A quick decision should be made for perishable goods. Should you donate it? Should you cook them and sell them as frozen (ready-to-heat) goods?
5. Service/Goods Adjustment – In relation to #4, you would also need to revisit your current service/good offerings. It may not be wise to continue to offer all of your services/products. A good benefit-cost ratio review for each product should be done, and maybe just focus on best-sellers for some.
6. Finally, finances – I am no expert on this, but of course, business decisions should rely on the business finances. Sometimes it may be a better decision to temporarily seize operations (and justify how long you can do it without going under).

The list might be overwhelming, but it can be further simplified (and even expanded) depending on your business. Online presence is not limited to having a website. Heck, with today’s trend, websites are now becoming a secondary option for most customers. We now have more convenient options (though we have less control over some matter) like FB Marketplace, Shopee, Lazada, etc. Though it is undeniable that being early on these platforms is a big advantage for business as they already have garnered a good following/clientele.