How Top eCommerce Marketplaces Are Leveraging Amid COVID-19
As lockdowns easing up and life is adapting to the new normal, businesses are resuming regular operations while also abiding by the health and safety guidelines. Take ride-hailing giant, Uber, for instance:
- Vehicles are being disinfected after every trip.
- The maximum number of passengers allowed on a trip has been reduced.
- Mask has been made mandatory for both its driver-partners and the passengers.
- The front seats of the cars have been separated with drapes to minimize physical contact.
In short, be it Uber, Airbnb, or Amazon, top marketplaces are trying their best to accommodate the new normal and not lose their grip in the market due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a matter of fact, these brands have not just survived the pandemic but also done pretty well in these hard times. You can guess the efficacy of their measures by the fact that Airbnb, which is a part of the hardest-hit hospitality industry, has seen a spike in the demands despite the pandemic.
The world is gradually returning to normalcy and big brands are adapting to live with the virus. Do you run any such business? Are you wondering how to survive the pandemic?
Let the big brands teach you some great ways. We learned above about the measure taken by Uber, let’s look into some other brands below. In this article, we are going to take a look at how different marketplaces have adapted to the change and managed to not only survive but also thrive amidst the necessary restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Best Buy- the electronic retail giant, which operates in both online and offline marketplace resumed its operations in May 2020. It started with in-store consultation accessible only via appointments at over 200 locations.
At its brick-and-mortar stores, Best Buy ensured to its customers that it would provide a one-to-one service and only a limited number of people will be there inside a store at a given time. The stores also released strict social distancing guidelines for both its employees and customers.
Here is how Best Buy re-opened with new strategies:
- A sales associate attended in-coming customers at the doors.
- All the items and surfaces were cleaned during the sales process.
- Masks and gloves were made mandatory for the staff.
- The stores were disinfected after every batch of appointments.
- Checkout stations had sneeze guards.
- Point of sale terminals was cleaned after every transaction.
After three months of rigid guidelines, Best Buy gradually revoked the appointments to lure more in-store customers. However, they continued with all other precautions and also encouraged contactless curbside pickup.
As of now, the Best Buy stores are entertaining at 25% of the capacity and employees have been guided to maintain 6-feet distance all the time.
Apart from the safety measures, Best Buy also launched big discounts up to 40% and gift cards of $200 on the 4th of July. As the festive season is already here, the brand has introduced various offers to attract as many customers.
Airbnb is one such brand, which was highly susceptible to a decline due to the nature of its service but seen a surprise spike in the demands. Maybe it’s because people were looking forward to a holiday escape after 3 months of rigid lockdown. As the restrictions eased, holiday lovers jumped at the chance to explore the countryside and small beach towns nearby.
Airbnb made no mistakes and geared up to resume its services with enhanced safety measures and cleanliness. They even consulted medical, hospitality, and hygiene experts to lay down a new standard protocol for cleaning, hygiene, and sanitization of their properties.
- Airbnb introduced a learning and certification program for the hosts. Hosts who attend the program got certificates, which were shown along with their listings. This ensured the guests about the high standard of cleanliness and safety of the respective properties.
- The hosts were also guided with specific information on how to use PPE kits, equipment, and cleaning supplies as instructed by the regulatory authorities.
- As per US CDC guidelines, all properties must wait for a minimum of 24 hours to welcome a new guest after the checkout of the previous guests. This period was utilized to clean and sanitize the properties thoroughly after each checkout.
- If hosts failed to adhere to the strict sanitization guidelines in 24 hours, they could also opt for 72 hours booking buffer, which would block further bookings in the meantime.
The lockdown, in fact, encouraged people to escape from their monotonous schedule and rejuvenate their minds. Airbnb saw the opportunity and grabbed it. It did its best to offer a reliable and safe experience to the guests, which actually paid off.
If any sector which has grown exponentially after the COVID-19 pandemic is OTT, and Netflix came out as the biggest shareholder of the same. Netflix was able to acquire 16 million new paid subscribers, which made its profit margins to grow exotically. People staying at home, binge-watched from a massive catalog of both old and new Netflix titles.
2020 marked a net income of over $709 million with a revenue of around $5.88 billion by 28%, as compared to Netflix’s previous year’s numbers.
While Netflix benefited from its releases in the queue, which were shot before the pandemic, they also continued shooting of their upcoming titles in Iceland and South Korea. This made sure that they have enough buffer of content for 2021 as well.
As Netflix stated, the visible only impact due to the COVID-19 pandemic on them is a reduction in the expenses on productions as they pushed some of their projects to a later time. Otherwise, we can guess the extent of the demands by the fact that Netflix was forced to reduce its streaming bit-rate by 25% for 30 days due to unprecedented loads on the servers.
As the restrictions eased, the shooting of new titles has resumed and streaming quality issues have also been resolved now.
The world’s top freelancing online marketplace, Upwork, is also doing its best to stay relevant amidst the pandemic. It’s recorded a massive 50% increase in freelancer signups since the lockdown began. With big names like Microsoft in its client list, Upwork managed to thrive in the pandemic.
Nevertheless, the freelance marketplace also laid a series of strategies to cope with any uncertainty in the business due to the pandemic:
- Upwork introduced a grant program of $1 million to support businesses in coping with the COVID-19 impact on the economy and communities.
- In a collaboration with Veem, the global payments platform, Upwork enabled American users to apply for the SBA paycheck protection program.
- It reduced its payout waiting period and announced exponential faster payments to top-rated freelancers on the platform.
- The platform also posted specific pandemic related job feeds connecting businesses with relevant projects to skilled professionals.
Amidst the pandemic, when most of the privately employed professionals have lost their regular jobs, Upwork is offering a sigh of relief by letting them find freelance jobs and retain steady income in these tough times. Faster payouts and excellent support have made them even relevant.
While the lockdowns were imposed in most parts of the world, Amazon stated that their biggest impact due to the COVID-19 pandemic was seen amidst the complete lockdown in India. The govt of India announced a complete shutdown of the economic activities for a rigid three months, where even the online sale of goods was not allowed.
This led to a harsh impact on not just Amazon, but every eCommerce business in the country. Amazon reportedly suffered a loss of over $600 in the first quarter this year. The extra cost of procurement of PPE kits, sanitization supplies, cleaning facilities, and drop in the sales only made it worse.
However, as the lockdowns eased up everywhere, including India, Amazon bounced back with even more energy. Despite an estimated loss of over $4 billion in the second quarter, Amazon is dedicatedly empowering small businesses and sellers on its marketplace across the planet:
- To encourage sellers, they waived off the commission and referral fee to nearly half just after the lockdown.
- The storage fees of fulfillment centers were waived off for a month.
- As the govt allowed the selling of only essentials like grocery and healthcare products, Amazon quickly adapted to the scenario and sold essentials in the big cities, even amidst the lockdown.
- To encourage no-contact deliveries, the marketplace suspended cash on delivery and encouraged users to pay online. The customers were also encouraged to opt for non-contact delivery.
Amazon is one of the worst-hit businesses by the pandemic, but they sprang back with wider policies. Despite the current losses, it is expected to grow again as the restrictions ease up further.
COVID019 pandemic is a harsh reality, and probably the new normal is going to stay a for a much longer period. Businesses that have adapted to the current needs have not only survive the lockdown but also grown positively. Are you ready to bounce back? You should take some cues from the measures taken by these big names and implement them in your business, too. Giving up will only kill your business. So, wake up and grow, before it’s too late.