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COVID-19 Implications for e-Commerce

The coronavirus pandemic is affecting hundreds of thousands of people. Every day, it's also having a more significant and broader impact on the global economy.

This article intends to provide e-Commerce retailers with just one of the many perspectives on the evolving situation. We also realize that the outbreak is moving quickly, so the perspective in this article may quickly become irrelevant. This article reflects our best pieces of advice as of March 31, 2020.

NOTE: For more details, please download our crisis management e-Book available for free here.

Practice the plan

Prepare simulations. They are invaluable.

You can use simulations to define and verify communication protocols for different case scenarios depending on what the situation might grow into. While it's easy to hypothesize about who might do what in the worst-case scenario, when it comes to business, it is better to be safe than sorry. That's why the simulation should clarify decision-makers, point of contact, and team leaders and ensure that roles for each team member are clear. Whatever happens, simulations should prepare you for that. Make sure that, if needed, the way that plan needs to be carried out is fully understood and readily available.

Stay close to your customers

Companies who successfully manage to navigate disruptions succeed because they understand their customers, anticipate their behavior, and invest in communicating with their core customer segments. For example, during the COVID-19 outbreak in China, people have not avoided shopping. They simply dramatically shifted toward online shopping, especially in categories including (but not limited to) food and produce delivery. This means you need to be where your customers are. In case you are not selling online, start selling online. If you are already selling online, push for omnichannel distribution, and ensure the quality of goods you are selling.

Demonstrate purpose

Your business is as strong as the customers you have. The goal is to turn those customers into a community and unify them with a sense of belonging. Figure out how to support the ones that will need you the most - whether you are providing money or knowledge or something completely different. For example, there are companies shifting production to creating medical masks instead of focusing on their core business.

The near term is essential, but don’t lose focus on the longer term

An immediate response is, of course, imperative. As McKinsey&Company research shows (Exhibit 1), companies are responding to the outbreak with various sets of responses.


But on many of these workstreams, the longer-term dimensions are even more important. Many are questioning whether we will face another 2008 crisis. We don't know for sure what will happen to credit markets, supply chains, and various industry verticals.

Yes, there are problems. But if the past has taught us anything, it’s that there will be winners too. We hope our e-Book will help you span the gap and build long-term growth.

Contact Imagination Media today if you need any assistance in optimizing your e-Commerce business. We are here for you and are in this together.

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Founded in 2011, IM Digital is a full-service e-commerce agency for D2C, B2B, and retail brands ready to become a household name.

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