Tips and guidance for our physical, online and omnichannel retailers in times of COVID-19.

In these uncertain times, we at Orderchamp do everything we can to provide support to our retailers. We do this by sharing relevant information and providing tools to continue building. Together we get the best out of this challenging period!

On this page, we give you advice on how to stay productive and take the right steps towards better times. We will continue to update this document with relevant information to sustain your store. We're here to help.

General advice from us: protect yourself and others, above all else. Staying safe should be your number one priority!

Part A. Tips for physical stores:
1. Communicate with your customers
2. Start a professional online store
3. Map your finances and count your inventory
4. Give your store an “ABC inventory analysis”
5. Purchase essentials
6. Talk to your suppliers
7. Pre-order strategy and special discounts

Part B. Tips for online & omnichannel stores:
1. Search Engine Optimization
2. Social Media
3. Install a chat plug-in
4. Add pre-orders to your online store
5. Send emails with discount codes
6. Gift cards
7. Be flexible!

Part C. Other sources to keep an eye on

A. Tips for physical stores

Since many retailers must close their physical spaces, one of the biggest challenges is how to make up for lost in-store revenue. Below we share some direct steps you can already take. You can do this!

1. Communicate with your customers
It is important to communicate with your consumers. With that being said, let your customers know that they can still make their purchases from you. It is important to let them know that you are still there to provide them with their favourite products. If your physical store is closed, you can refer them directly to your online store. Don't have one (yet)? In addition to consider launching one, a quick alternative can be to offer your products on social media and / or via email. In the meantime, you can prepare your online store. Do you want to know more about eCommerce and tips for online retailers? Please scroll down a bit.

If you have a relatively small business, you can try to process your orders manually. For example, by delivering products straight to customers, instead of having them come to your store. The customer is of course king and this personal approach will be highly appreciated. You will benefit from this in the long term!

2. Start a professional online store
You may have already thought about it: expanding your business through digitally. There is no better time than the present to investigate this. Of course there are several providers that can help you, but we have arranged something special for you! Especially for Orderchamp customers, our friends over at Lightspeed now offer a free subscription up to 6 months. With the advantages of the lowest payment rates, made possible by Mollie. This means you can get your online store up and running in no time at all, while benefiting from minimal operating costs.

3. Map your finances and count your inventory
Take advantage of this downtime to sort out your finances! For example, take the time to view your overall financial picture and chart your liquidity. If you understand your (fixed) costs and available capital, you can make informed decisions about what to save on. It is important to take both sides into account; both outstanding invoices that you can collect but also how you can postpone or save certain costs.

Besides updating your finance, another thing you can do to stay productive is to do a physical inventory count. For most retailers this is a task that is often postponed, because of the time-consuming nature of it. However, this task is necessary now more than ever. It will give you an accurate inventory update; in certain places there will be shortages, in other places there will be surpluses.

4. Give your store an "ABC inventory analysis"
Prioritize your products based on their in-store performance. This analysis helps you assess products based on the value they create for your business. You can locate your risky shopping areas and minimize shrinkage. For example, you can choose to push "A" class or high performing products through marketing communication, while leaving the "B" class or medium performing products alone. Do you find yourself stocking many ''C'' grade or underperforming products? This means that you are vulnerable to oversupply. Heavy discounts can help you with this.

Furthermore, make sure you always buy products in small quantities. This way you can adapt yourself to changing consumer trends even faster, without being financially exposed. Please visit this website to view our brands that have a minimum order value of less than € 100.

5. Purchase essentials
Consumers are stocking up on essentials. Therefore, explore which of your products can be seen as essential to consumers. Promote these. If you don’t sell any essential products yet, think out of the box of which products you can purchase and add as a new product category. A different category verticals to your store. Determine what your customer needs.

6. Talk to your suppliers
Have an open conversation with your current suppliers. What about their stock availability? How will they do their transport nowadays? Is there an increase in delivery times? This probably all changes. What you can do to stay safe as a retailer, is to start sourcing from multiple suppliers for the same product. If one supplier does not deliver or delivers too late, you can deal with this with the other suppliers.

Are you currently not liquid enough to pay your suppliers? Be transparent and make an agreement that both of you can live with in the short term to maintain a good mutual relationship. In addition, we will soon be launching a feature on Orderchamp called''Net60'', which allows retailers to pay their suppliers within 60 days.

7. Pre-order strategy and special discounts
Customers understand that it is a particularly challenging time for local retailers. So ask your loyal customers to pre-order popular products. You can also send loyal customers a letter with a discount code. Determine which customer buys what and personalize the discount for a product category. This has a positive effect on your stock.

B. Tips for online & omnichannel stores

Since there will be a shift to online, it is essential to focus on eCommerce; including the communication, marketing and strategies around it. Below you can find our tips!

1. Search Engine Optimization
Also make sure that your online store comes up in online search results. This may seem obvious, but it is not always the case. For example, advertise on your own keywords via Google Ads. The price per click is relatively low, since there is little competition. You can increase your chances by for example posting business listings on Google, Yelp, Facebook and other platforms.

2. Social Media
Use social media to maintain daily contact with your customers to keep them up-to-date on your store's decisions. Think of creative ways to give your products a digital stage. The customer must be able to see exactly what your range is on your page. You can also use Instagram and Facebook to link directly to products in your online store, which the customers can easily add to their shopping cart. Social media actually serves as an extra addition and will reach more consumers, and if used wisely, will eventually generate more revenue.

Examples of Instagram stories and a chat plug-in

3. Install a chat plug-in
Instant messaging is a simple and convenient way for companies to communicate with their customers. Not only does it make life easier for you and your customers, it also provides valuable information for marketers. At Orderchamp we use Tidio, which we would strongly recommend because it allows us to configure personalized messages and automatic reduction codes. We would recommend Zendesk Chat as well, because it allows both support tickets and chats on one platform.

4. Add pre-orders to your online store
As we mentioned above, introducing a pre-order button and offering pre-order items a good solution for online stores. This allows you to sell items that you do not have yet and your customers can buy a product before it is made and shipped. So it guarantees you a certain number of product sales and revenues over a certain period of time.

5. Send emails with discount codes
Email campaigns and promotional codes are extremely valuable tools, especially when used together. There are many different ways discount codes can be used. Don't hesitate to personalise your emails, add the person's name, offer special birthday discounts, and use other promotional codes to encourage purchase. Being creative is key!

6. Gift cards
Encourage your customers to buy gift cards during this period. This way you still get paid and this ensures (in most cases) that a customer returns in the future. For companies with particularly small margins, gift cards can help keep their heads above water until the crisis is over.

7. Be flexible!
About 30% of online purchases are returned annually. This is because online shoppers cannot see, touch and try the products. As a retailer you could be more flexible in the return policy, doing so by offering the return or the possibility to exchange. This could generate more traffic to your site and lead to a higher customer satisfaction.

In the meantime, we will continue to share all relevant information with you. In this way, we can help you make informed decisions for your business. In addition to these blogs, we will host webinars for all retailers. In our first webinar, we already covered how you can make your online store successful. Curious about the upcoming webinar? Stay informed via email and our social media channels.

Keep an eye on our website and social media channels to stay up-to-date. But also: let us know how we can help YOU! What challenges do you encounter? What impact or changes do you experience? We will bundle and leverage all this information to help other retailers succeed in this challenging time.

C. Other sources to keep an eye on

An extra tip that we want to give to our retailers is: stay informed and look for financial support and credit opportunities! Do you want to know what options there are for you as an entrepreneur? In addition to the European World Health Organization (WHO) you can keep an eye on the following websites per country:

The Netherlands
Chamber of Commerce (Chamber of Commerce)
Central government and keep an eye on our National Government Economic Measures
Netherlands Enterprise Agency
Thuiswinkel - Impact Corona on Online Retail
INRETAIL
RVO

Belgium
Government of Flanders
Flanders.be
FPS finance
Care and health

France
Government
Organization global de la Santé

Germany
Bundesministerium für Gesundheit
Einzelhandel
European Commission

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