25 August 2020

Scaling your small business online to survive a post-Covid world

The growth of eCommerce has been on the rise for many years, but the enforced lockdowns brought about by Covid-19 have accelerated this further.


Office of National Statics data shows online retail growth rose more than 50% during the lockdown period, from 19.6% in February to 33.4% in May of this year.

This sudden surge in online sales left many retailers struggling – even those with an established online presence. For those without, it’s been a particularly pressing time.

Many have had to scramble to establish themselves in the eCommerce sector to survive the pressures lockdown has placed on the retail sector. Data from GoDaddy shows a fifth of microbusinesses have gone online for the first-time during lockdown. And, without time on their side, many have had to opt for quick-fix solutions.

As we gradually start to emerge from the other side, now is time for those new to the world of online selling to take stock and ensure they’re well placed to succeed and weather any future storms.

Here are five things new etailers need to consider in the wake of Covid-19 to strengthen their position online…

  1. Choose scalable, secure partners

Whether it’s your eCommerce platform or delivery carrier, choose flexible partners that are able to grow with your business. Look to the future and consider whether they’re able to offer the same level of service and efficiency as your order levels grow.

For example, working with a trusted, well respected partner, such as Royal Mail and its approved third parties, will not only give you peace of mind, but your shoppers too.

Here’s a useful list of Royal Mail’s approved business solutions.

  1. Opt for multi-carrier

Just like the retail sector, carriers also felt the knock-on effect of Covid-19. At a time when carrier services were most in demand, logistics firms faced their own pressures. Illness caused staff shortages and social distancing measures meant they were unable to operate with the same levels of efficiency.

Retailers that opted to partner with multiple carriers during this time were undoubtedly in a better position than those with a single partner, giving them the flexibility to switch between the most efficient options and carefully negotiate any service disruption.

Find out how our partner Wentworth Puzzles navigated the challenges of Covid-19 with a multi-carrier solution.

  1. Consider automated tools

Opting for a streamlined delivery management solution will allow for the automated production of labels and customers documentation. So regardless of whether you have 100 or 10,000 orders to ship, the system will integrate with your eCommerce platform and complete the label production process for you.

When online suddenly rose during lockdown, many retailers were unable to respond to demand. Particularly smaller businesses relying on manual label production and fulfilment methods, leaving them unable to fulfil orders within the pre-agreed timescale. And with research showing 84% of shoppers won’t return to a brand after a poor delivery experience, it’s not something a growing business can afford to get wrong. With prices for delivery management solutions and automation tools to match varying budgets, it’s an investment worth making.

  1. Customer communication is key to repeat online business

Providing a frictionless checkout process is important, preventing shoppers from abandoning their baskets out of frustration. But remember, the customer experience doesn’t end here – it filters right the way through the delivery journey.  In the absence of a physical store experience, the delivery experience is the next best thing.

Keeping customers in the loop with despatch notifications and delivery updates is vital for improving the shopper experience. It not only gives them peace of mind but acts as an extension of the brand. Branded delivery notifications also create cross-selling opportunities. Data shows 70-80% of post-purchase email communications are opened, compared to the average email open rate of 13%. This gives online retailers a prime sales opportunity.

  1. Think about returns

On average, 30% of online orders are returned compared to just 9% of store purchases. So getting the returns process right – for your business and your customer – is vital. It will enable you to keep better tabs on incoming/outgoing stock and cashflow and provide your customer with peace of mind.

Solutions such as Intersoft’s Returns Portal, seamlessly link to your eCommerce platform, allowing shoppers to log into their account and download a returns label with unique tracking code. This code is then used to keep them updated on the status of the return and allowing you to keep track of stock coming in and out via a simple Returns Dashboard.

For more insight and guidance on preparing your retail business for future changes in demand, read our latest guide, “Preparing for the future unexpected.”

Alternatively, pick up the phone or drop us an email for more advice and guidance on managing your online deliveries.