Learn how dropshipping is impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

[UPDATED] What Does Covid-19 Coronavirus Mean For Dropshipping?

This article is intended for informational purposes only. For definitive information on COVID-19, please contact health and public safety organizations in your region. This article will be updated as more information becomes available.

With the continued worldwide spread of coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, various precautions are being implemented to keep local and international populations safe. 

So far this has included steps such as countries going into lockdown, factory closures, and travel restrictions.

Public health and safety is the number one concern. This information is meant to address how these measures might impact Oberlo users and the businesses that they run, which have the potential to be widespread.

We know that this can feel like a scary and overwhelming time, but being prepared is the best way to take control during this uncertain time.

Manufacturers, suppliers, and logistics companies are experiencing disruptions to their operations. This is likely to have implications for companies around the globe, including dropshipping stores. 

If you are a dropshipper, this means your products might have lengthy delays reaching your customers. Let’s look more closely at what you can expect, and what to do about it.

I’m a Dropshipper. What Should I Do?

With many manufacturing and logistics facilities restricted or shut temporarily, we recommend you prepare for delays and take that into account before continuing to run paid ads and take orders. It is a good idea to check with your supplier, but assume that your items will not be shipped promptly. Or, if they are shipping things on time, disruptions to domestic shipping in the destination country could still cause delays.

This is a time when having great customer service will be an asset for your business. Being upfront and honest with your customers about the situation is critically important. You may need to tell them to expect delays, or be prepared to offer refunds on their purchases. 

Dropshipper Emma Reid has made a point to notify all customers of potential delays and has found the response incredibly positive, telling Oberlo customers are “understanding as many businesses are facing the same issue.”

Merchants Rodney and Kory also plan on adding an announcement on their store alerting potential customers to the fact that there may be delays on any orders made.

We have several articles with tips on how to handle customer refunds or complaints:

When Will Factories Be Reopened?

At this stage, it’s uncertain when manufacturers and suppliers will begin operating as usual. Factory shutdowns took place at various locations throughout China in January and February.

Even as Chinese factories begin to reopen, many logistics companies have reduced or hit pause on their operations. As a result, some cargo terminals are shutting down due to low volume.

Air transportation has also been impacted, with many dedicated shipping services being cancelled, as well as dramatic reductions in passenger services, which also often carry cargo. 

What if My Products Ship From Within Europe?

Not all products are shipped from China. Many products are also held and shipped directly from warehouses in Europe and the US. 

Many European countries are going into lockdown, including Italy and Spain, which means many workplaces have been closed, including warehouses. If you dropship products from warehouses outside of China, check with suppliers to see if orders can still be received and fulfilled.

Additionally, with lockdowns continuing in Europe, it’s not completely clear what this will mean for shipments going in and out of these countries. In other words, will a product sourced from Italy be able to reach a customer in the Netherlands?

In the United States, the situation is also changing day to day. Travel restrictions were recently placed on people traveling from Europe to the United States, and at the time of publication, it was not clear what impact these restrictions would have on trade and cargo.

Do Packages Pose a Risk to Customers?

According to the CDC, there is no evidence to suggest that coronavirus has been transmitted through imported goods and packages.

While the virus is transmitted person-to-person through respiratory droplets from coughs or sneezes, they generally don’t survive for long on surfaces. A recent study from UCLA suggests that the virus can survive for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two or three days on plastic and stainless steel. This means there is a very low risk of COVID-19 spreading from products or packaging that have been shipped over days or weeks at ambient temperatures.

So, What Can I Do? 

With the current situation, it’s understandable if you feel demotivated and frustrated. But despite all of that, there is still a lot you can do now to help your business. We recently spoke to dropshipper Chris Wane who echoed this.

“Take this time to learn as much as you can about dropshipping, paid advertising and also best practices around store design and branding because once this all passes you will be in a great position to hit the ground running.”

Keeping busy also has the added bonus of being a fantastic way to distract yourself from what can be a really overwhelming and anxious time. With that in mind, here are a few things that you could prioritize while experiencing delays due to coronavirus. 

Make Use of the Extra Time

We all have those tasks that could use some attention but aren’t a priority. Well now is the perfect time to get them done. Make use of the time that you would normally spend creating ads or fulfilling orders and do some of the following:

Build Social Channels

Organically building a social media following is hard work and takes time, but it’s also fantastic for building your brand and social proof. For businesses that are already established, look into ways you can improve on what you already have, follow similar companies and take inspiration, increase how much you post, or open an account on a new social media platform.

For newer merchants, you could test potential winning products on social media to see which items do the best. For example, Rodney and Kory extensively tested several niches by opening separate Instagram accounts for each. Eventually they realized the fantasy gaming niche was a winner and they built their store around that. And, once they’d begun to sell, they already had an audience thanks to that initial Instagram account.

Setting Email Sequences

If you’ve been collecting email addresses but haven’t done much in the way of email marketing, now is the time to change that. Forget just having automated abandon cart emails, do some research on full email sequences that don’t let any of your visitors slip through the cracks.
For some inspiration, listen to seven-figure dropshippers Yulia and Mike break down their email strategy on our podcast Start Yours. After that, get researching and start implementing your own:

But don’t just set up email sequences, think about other systems you can put in place that will help you maximize your time and your business in the future. Upselling sequences, chatbots, and marketing automation platforms are all examples of things that you could start now and that would save you time in the future.

Write Blog Posts and Work on SEO

Search engine optimization can bring a ton of visitors to your store but it is an area often neglected by dropshippers. If you have some spare time, do some research on how you can first optimize your current website, such as your homepage and your product pages, then move onto writing optimized blog posts. Not only will optimized blog posts bring visitors to your store, but they’ll help establish a brand and give your store added value.

Set Up a Home Office

Do you do most of your work from your bed or on the couch? While it’s comfortable, it’s not exactly the most productive way to work long term. Take this opportunity to rearrange your bedroom, lounge, or home office into a workstation that’s not only functional, but inspiring.

Stay Busy and Upskill

Upskilling is always a good idea, especially when you have extra spare time. Whether you’re new to dropshipping or you’ve been in the game for awhile, there is unlimited information about what you can do to improve your business online. 

Taking the time to research each aspect of your business will only benefit you in the long run, so think of it as an opportunity or investment, rather than something you’re doing to ride out this unprecedented delay.

We want to help all current and future entrepreneurs during this period, which is why we’re offering free, comprehensive access to our dropshipping course, Oberlo 101. To gain access, all you need to do is click this link and enter the coupon code “LEARNFROMHOME” to get Oberlo 101 for free. The voucher is valid until April 17, and once you’ve claimed access, you’ll be able to go through Oberlo 101 in your own time.

Whether you take a course, watch YouTube videos, or read articles and ebooks, you’re bound to find information that could help your business in one way or another. And don’t be afraid to get specific with your area of research – no matter what you’re curious about, someone will have answers for you.

What Financial Help Can I Get for My Business?

With COVID-19 now affecting the entire world, there will be financial hardship ahead for many. Governments around the globe are announcing relief packages to help those impacted by the pandemic, including small businesses.

For more information, refer to this article:

Wrapping Up

The impact of coronavirus is changing daily, and if you’re not already keeping yourself informed with reliable, credible information, it is a good idea to do so. Don’t rely just on one piece of media alone to form your decision-making.

Despite restrictions, there are still plenty of things you can do on your dropshipping business. Use this time to improve and iterate your store, read up on new techniques, and swap ideas with others within the community. 

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