The parcelLab founders on the Corona crisis: Why e-commerce must act now!

The parcelLab founders on the Corona crisis: Why e-commerce must act now!
Published on: May 1, 2020
Updated: Aug 18, 2022

The online commerce faces some challenges in times of coronavirus as well as an uncertain future. We asked our founders how they see e-commerce in the current situation.

1. How do you assess the general situation (Covid-19) with regard to e-commerce? What are the opportunities& risks for online retailers?

Anton Eder:

The situation is tragic - I think that is beyond question. Nevertheless, online retail can currently exploit some opportunities for itself. All stationary stores that do not sell essential products are closed. Therefore, certain goods can be ordered exclusively online. Even groups of people who normally rarely or never shop online are now discovering the positive sides of online shopping. In addition, there are some industries that are now seeing a considerable increase in their parcel volumes. These include, for example, online stores for electronics & multimedia, fitness equipment suppliers, toy manufacturers and DYI stores. Pure e-commerce retailers or retailers with a multichannel strategy seem to be better able to adapt to the situation at the moment. Retailers who recognized the opportunity early on and took appropriate action will also emerge as winners from the situation.

However, it is clear that the current crisis does not only bring opportunities for online retail. Because there is another area to consider: Logistics! Should one of the employees in logistics become infected with the corona virus, smooth delivery may no longer be fully guaranteed. This scenario could lead to closures or employee shortages. Potential out-of-stock situations pose another risk. According to an Internet World article, Amazon now only delivers essential products in France and Italy. However, concrete scenarios are unfortunately still impossible to predict in the current situation.

2. What can online retailers do to support their customers and take away their uncertainty?

Tobias Buxhoidt:

What is particularly important now? Retailers should keep a cool head and not panic or go into shock. For many retailers, opportunities also arise if the right preparations have been made. An outstanding customer experience is currently more important than ever and should definitely be optimized even further. Customers are uncertain and do not know when their package will arrive and whether it will reach them at all. Due to the closure of brick-and-mortar stores, some orders have also been left in the shops  

At this critical time, it is even more important that customers are proactively informed about the status of their order and any delivery delays. The advantage of this is that customers do not call the customer service department, freeing it up to focus on providing support and advice on products.

3. How do you assess the situation after Covid-19? How will online retailing change?

Tobias Buxhoidt:

One thing is already certain: developments that would otherwise have taken months or even years are currently happening in days. Retailers are virtually being forced to drive their digitalization and online businesses right now. This affects both the way they work (keyword: remote and digital) and their agility to adapt to constantly changing situations.  

We expect one of the strongest growth leaps in e-commerce in recent years. Why is that? It's actually quite simple: customers who previously bought stationary now buy online. Even if everything returns to normal, this shopping behavior will not return to pre-crisis levels. What's more, many products that were previously purchased stationary will still be bought online more frequently afterwards. This state of affairs will be able to continue even after the crisis is over. It is also the case that online retail can react more quickly to changes. It is precisely this fact that retailers can use as a competitive advantage. They invest in innovations for online retailing, because it is currently becoming more attractive and will continue to do so in the future. Market shares are now being redistributed. Retailers will focus more on multichannel channels. Amazon has shown who controls sales through its sales restrictions. This is a dependency that is too dangerous for many retailers in the long run 

4. How can you help and best support your customers in the current situation?

Julian Krenge:

Above all, it is very important to us that our customers continue to be satisfied and remain so in the long term. One of our company values is "Relentless focus on customer value" - this applies even more now! We like to act as advisors to our customers, as we know that many of them may now be somewhat at a loss. We like to proactively show them ways to increase their customer experience. This can be done, for example, by including a Covid notice in their shipping messages to alert customers at any time that there may be delivery issues. Some of our customers have already taken advantage of this option. The notice was successfully integrated into the messages and the track & trace page within a few days. The advantage of this measure is that customer service staff can be relieved. The integration of the hint should minimize unnecessary inquiries, as the number of shipping-related questions has increased enormously. We are extremely flexible and adapt to the requirements of retailers. This also includes monitoring internal processes in addition to shipping communication.


5. Don t the shipping and delivery of packages actually increase the risk of contracting coronavirus 


Julian Krenge:

There are already some sources that consider the risk of getting infected via a package to be very low. Additionally, many shipping service providers waive the customer's signature at the time of delivery and ask their customers to provide a drop-off location for the package, so that no physical contact between the package carrier and the customer is necessary. In our data, we also see that the delivery of parcels has become faster. This can deliver precisely on these precautions, which are both important and save time in delivery. However, what still should not be forgotten: After receiving the goods, hands should be washed thoroughly. To sum it up, you should make it as easy as possible for the shipping service providers right now, so as not to expose them and also yourself to any unnecessary risk.

6. How do you protect your employees at parcelLab? Is home office already the order of the day for you?

Anton Eder:

The situation is not normal for anyone and that is why we are very concerned that our employees are well and lack nothing. We want every individual to feel good - despite the current situation. For this reason, we have offered our employees the opportunity to carry out their work from home from the very beginning. Each employee is of course provided with the equipment they need for their work, because we want to create ideal working conditions there as well. Our employees now work exclusively from home. To make this work, we have implemented daily video calls in which we inform each other about updates as well as the current status of our work. These calls are very important to us, because we don't want the team spirit to be lost by working from home. We also rely on regular check-ins in the form of short opinion surveys to see whether our employees are doing well and whether they need anything. To ensure that the fun doesn't get completely lost, we organize digital after-work events or our MTV Cribs, in which our employees show off their homes, provide some cheer in what can be a very serious situation.

Do you need help and would like to inform your customers even more proactively right now? Then get in touch with us - we'll be happy to help!

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