As state lockdowns are being imposed across the country, ecommerce sellers face temporary warehouse closures and pressure to think creatively to keep orders coming in. Some states are enforcing stricter measures than others.
On the stricter side is California. Beginning Thursday, March 19, all californians were ordered to stay indoors except to get food, care for a loved one, receive health care or conduct an “essential job.”
This meant the closure of all warehouses for one Amazon seller.
Felina is a long-standing player in the intimate apparel space—with roots stretching as far back as the 1980s. It has established itself as a top 15 seller of leggings in Amazon and ordinarily brings in a steady stream of revenue from several online channels, including Walmart and its Shopify store.
Up until a week ago, sales were as good as normal. But once news of the California lockdown broke out, sales took a turn. This came in the wake of its warehouse closures and a temporary pause on all shipments, says Felina’s Head of Ecommerce Neil Popkin.
“I believe our sales would be as strong they always are now, if we were able to ship,” says Popkin, who’s planning to expand the number of products he ships through Amazon FBA after the lockdown is lifted. Amazon’s fulfillment centers remain open even amid California’s lockdown—and despite the retailer’s recent freeze on nonessential shipments, Popkin estimates $4 to $5 in savings on certain orders due to better shipping and handling rates.
(It’s important to note that many sellers are also considering 3PLs in addition to, or in replacement of, Amazon FBA. Recent delays in Prime deliveries and the FBA freeze have influenced sellers to diversify their fulfillment options to avoid getting cut off from their own inventory without notice, as thousands of sellers experienced last week.)
All in all, Popkin and his team remain optimistic.
“It wasn’t that bad,” Popkin says, when asked about last Thursday’s lockdown announcement. “We were prepared for it to happen, and we’ll be in a good place when we’re able to reopen."
Using Time at Home to Get Ahead
One silver lining is that time at home means more time to get ahead. Felina’s ecommerce division is still firing on all cylinders to keep current customers happy, and to build up a defense against any future turbulence.
Last week proved the importance of a good “ramp down” strategy during a state of emergency. This week, the team at Felina is focused on building out its own marketing channels. They’ve strategically paused advertising campaigns (in light of their warehouse closures) and disabled inventory feeds (using Zentail) to marketplaces where they’re unable to fulfill orders.
“Now we’re asking ourselves, ‘How do we take this time to be more strategic with our emails and release campaigns that people will engage with, even if an order isn’t going to ship right away?’” explains Popkin.
A core component of their move-forward strategy is transparency. The team is sending more post-purchase emails to let buyers know that their orders are safely in their warehouses and ready to ship once limitations are lifted.
Felina is also testing a buy-one-get-one 50% off sale on their Shopify site, and a campaign where buyers can get 15% off by donating a dollar to a charity. The result so far has been positive: customers are purchasing and the team has yet to receive any complaints or order cancellations.
While uncertainty shrouds the next few weeks, Felina is attacking each day with a plan and a mission to keep customers informed throughout the whole process.
Word of Advice for Other Sellers
Popkin boiled down his advice to other sellers to three main things:
- Be agile and roll with the punches
- Think outside the box to keep business flowing
- Stay open as long as possible
Even after lockdowns are lifted, he advises sellers to stay on their toes and maximize their time at the office.
“We might come back for a small period of time and get quarantined again,” predicts Popkin. “That’s the world we’re living in right now.”
On a brighter note, he adds: “I think ecommerce will have a significant uptick across all industries, since people will still want to shop safely from their homes for awhile.”
So far, the numbers reflect this. Zentail looked into sales trends across various product categories and found that online sales jumped as much as 500% since coronavirus was first announced in December 2019. The surge in online shopping has even strained Amazon’s massive logistics networks, forcing the giant to delay Prime deliveries up to a month and hire 100,000 more workers.
It seems like anything can happen in the next few weeks, but one thing’s for certain: ecommerce is here to stay.
Felina is a Zentail customer who manages over 7,000 online listings with Zentail’s AI-powered PIM and inventory management tools. For help weathering the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on your business, contact us to chat through strategies or to get set up with your own Zentail workspace.