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Building A Disaster Response Plan

In the midst of the COVID-19 global pandemic, professionals across industries have already seen major changes, and retail and ecommerce are no different. There is much uncertainty, but it is important to focus on one positive aspect: We are all in this together.   

Many small businesses are taking things day by day, while others built out business contingency plans in the early days of the pandemic. That’s why we sought out some of the most successful ecommerce leaders to offer advice for those in the early stages of building an online business. This is what they had to say about building a disaster response plan. 

Team Communication

It is important that your team is fully aware of how operations will be affected moving forward. The retailers we spoke to advised the following:

  • Sharing guidance from the CDC and other official information sources
  • Ongoing communication with team about any changes related to the business
  • Ongoing check-ins with team members to ensure they feel safe, informed and their families are all safe (including team members at home)
  • Ongoing feedback from team on safety measures
  • Offering supplies to team members in need and/or for family members: gloves, masks, shields, etc.
  • Paying team members who need to take time off, if possible

Vendor/Supplier Communication

Once your team is informed and up to speed, you can then move to the next phase of communication: contacting your vendors and/or supplies. These conversations should focus on how you will continue to support them and how new safety policies and procedures relate to the way you do business together.   

New Company Guidelines

A majority of businesses have transitioned to working remotely, but that is not always possible in the ecommerce world. Retailers whose employees are continuing operations in a physical workplace have implemented these guidelines:

  • Wear mask and gloves at all times
  • When wearing a mask – mold the nosepiece to the shape of your nose
  • Wash hands and use hand sanitizer
  • No physical contact
  • Keep a 6ft (2m) distance
  • Allow one person to enter and leave the offices at a time
  • Only take mask off during lunch
  • Use hand sanitizer before eating
  • Place mask in bag while eating
  • If you are not well at work, please go home and return to work when feeling better
  • If you are sick, please stay at home

Additional measures are being taken, they say. Cleaning services have been increased to clean and sanitize high touch areas including but not limited to bathrooms/kitchen/lunch areas. Staff are required to take their temperature when entering the office and record it in the log sheet. Third party service providers, aside from cleaners, are being prohibited from entering the premises in order to minimize interpersonal contact. 

For retailers whose teams have gone remote, all necessary equipment and software (Slack, Zoom, etc.) have been provided in order to continue business.

Business Opportunity 

Retailers who remain optimistic for the future can use this time to focus on their strengths, look for opportunities to pivot and create growth, and support others. These are some of their ideas.

Drive core products across channels:

  • Maximize profitability on high demand/in stock products
  • Utilize time to list on other channels to drive up revenue and volume
  • Pivot team to do more self-fulfillment (given fulfillment center delays)

Operational Excellence: Use opportunity to reorganize space/operation/accounting and process development.

Recruitment: The talent pool has grown; Use this time to virtually find a few right fits.


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