The new normal in a world where Covid-19, unfortunately, is becoming a part of our life will bring about many changes in the way businesses will be conducted, and more importantly the way we live our life.
The nation-wide lockdown is slowly being lifted across orange and green zones and life is slowly crawling back to a new-normalcy. Businesses and brands are now are making their way back into the business; planning their communication plans for a new world post the COVID-19 lockdown.
In this story of Medianews4u’s new brand series, Back to Business, we spoke to Sandeep Komaravelly, Director of International Growth, Shopify.
How are you coping with the impact of Covid-19 on Shopify? How effectively have you used the lockdown period?
One of the key trends that we have seen during this period is the demand for shopping locally. More than ever, merchants need efficient ways to connect with their local customers today and in the future. Globally, average daily local orders on Shopify for the six weeks ending April 24, grew by 176%, compared to the prior six weeks, coinciding with the introduction of physical distancing measures. As of April 24, 26% of brick-and-mortar merchants in Shopify’s English-speaking geographies were using some form of local pickup and delivery solution, compared to just 2% at the end of February.
Shopify is accelerating and shipping products that will help merchants future proof of their businesses. Historically, necessity breeds innovation. By making it easy to start and maintain a business, we continue to help merchants bring to life the innovations spurred by this unprecedented world event. We remain committed to removing the barriers that exist for merchants starting new businesses.
The quest for a solution to a particular crisis helps invent new business opportunities and sometimes leads to a revision of existing business models … What sort of innovation has or will the Covid-19 pandemic bring to Shopify?
At Shopify, our goal is to help entrepreneurs create and develop their businesses by removing the barriers that exist in selling online. We are a merchant centric platform and have placed merchants at the core of our developments and innovations. Our job is to give them the tools to develop as they wish. Understanding the impact of the pandemic in India and what our customers, merchants and sellers are looking for, we have created solutions for merchants looking to set up and grow their online business. Shopify, through our partner network is extending attractive offers from partners across categories, that merchants can avail and save through partner credits. Over 1 Lakh INR in partner credits can be saved with our carefully-curated offers from industry-leading technology, solution and service partners such as Razorpay, PayTM, Shiprocket, Adyogi, and Delhivery to name a few.
We also hosted our first-ever virtual Reunite session in May recently to introduce our latest innovations across finance, retail, and shipping to help merchants from across the world future-proof their businesses amid COVID-19. We introduced various features to help merchants navigate an ever-evolving retail landscape.
While Shopify is a brand that facilitates and enhances the business experience for merchants, what are some of the initiatives that Shopify took to keep the ‘show going’?
Shopify helps aspiring entrepreneurs as they transform an idea into a thriving, fully-scalable. businesses. We offer a platform so easy to use that merchants are free to focus on developing their products and brands rather than overcoming technical constraints – which in today’s context, is more relevant than ever. Our focus right now is to help merchants survive and adapt, but that’s always been our mission. The difference is that we’ve directed the energy of the entire company towards helping merchants during this crisis.
The lockdown has affected small and medium businesses due to low consumer spending, disruption in production, and deliveries resulting in a cash flow crunch. Shopify undertook an in-depth analysis of common problems merchants faced before putting together offers from relevant partners. Taking cognizance of the learnings we put together a range of exclusive offers to help small and medium businesses across India adjust to the new normal in the coming months and sell online more efficiently. This Back-to-Business model puts forth exclusive offers that will make it easier for businesses to get back on their feet by enabling them to offer customers a great shopping experience while helping reduce monthly costs. Over INR 1 lakh in partner credits can be saved through Shopify’s e-Commerce solutions from industry-leading service partners.
Additionally, we have released a new one-page theme called Express that enables merchants, such as restaurants, and food-to-go services, to get online quickly. As of March 20, selling gift cards has been available to all merchants, and Shopify has seen more merchants utilizing this feature than ever before. For businesses that can’t deliver products during COVID-19, this feature has provided a much-needed supplement to cash flow. Shopify Email has been designed to help merchants build more meaningful relationships with their customers, and to make email marketing easy and accessible to businesses who are new to digital marketing. Shopify also offers merchants the flexibility to enable curbside pickups, They can set up the option for customers to pick up their online orders at your retail store, curbside, or any location that they choose.
We hosted our first-ever virtual Reunite session recently to introduce our latest innovations across finance, retail, and shipping to help merchants from across the world future-proof their businesses amid COVID-19. We have introduced a number of new features, such as Shopify Email, Pick-up, Express themes, etc. for merchants in India.
In light of the current situation, Shopify, through our partner network, is extending attractive offers from partners across categories, that merchants can avail and save through partner credits to get back to business and amplify their stores on our platform.
Real-life experiences for a lot of your partner brands are in the dark till the Covid-19 situation settles down. What are your thoughts on the virtual experiences that brands are innovating on for keeping the conversation with customers?
COVID-19 has changed the way we do commerce, and it is essential to stay connected with our network. The social distancing and self-quarantine have given rise to a new normal of innovating and connecting virtually. Most of the offline events have shifted online and have allowed greater accessibility for all. Our recently hosted virtual event – Reunite where which connected over 100,000 merchants across our community. The event was a huge success and largely benefitted the attendees where they virtually learned innovative ways to future-proof their businesses amongst COVID-19.
While some parts of the country have become Covid-19 free, cities like Mumbai and Delhi are still in a lockdown situation. How are you planning to resume business across cities that are not in Red?
Today consumers are increasingly identifying digital as a convenient and time-saving option to make purchases. On account of the lockdown, this trend is no longer restricted to the younger generation. Our business has always been operating in the digital space and therefore we will continue to operate like before. Keeping into account the way the supply chain has been disrupted on account of COVID-19, our Back-to-Business model will enable our business with a blueprint to adjust to the new normal and ensure more efficient sales.
How do you keep up the morale of the employees during this lockdown period? What kept you positive?
Shopify follows a digital culture by default and in response to the current needs have offered our merchants to work remotely. We do ensure that our employees have access to the best of facilities when working remotely and encourage a dynamic yet flexible work culture.
What are some of the post-lockdown business strategies that you will use to bring the business back on track or at least get it in the right direction?
Our focus is on helping our merchants. Entrepreneurs rely on Shopify as their retail operating system. With Shopify, they can operate and grow their business across their own direct-to-consumer website, online marketplaces, and social networks, while remaining in full control of their business–and their future.
Our merchant-centric approach has guided the development of our offerings for India as well. We have always maintained a core focus on entrepreneurs and businesses and have developed our product to equip them with appropriate solutions. In light of the current situation, Shopify, through our ecosystem partner network, is extending attractive offers from partners across categories, that merchants can avail and save through partner credits to get back to business and amplify their stores on our platform.
Moving forward, in order to survive and thrive, merchants need to embrace omnichannel commerce, because consumers have already embraced it. With the introduction of our Back-to-Business initiative, we are helping entrepreneurs create and develop their businesses by removing the barriers that exist to selling online is at the very heart of our business philosophy and we have been accelerating solutions that will aid merchants, future proof of their businesses. These offers have been designed to equip small and medium businesses to navigate the evolving retail landscape.
We believe that business will continue to evolve in India and we will ensure the best facilities and tools to help them grow. Shopify, through our ecosystem partner network, is extending attractive offers from partners across categories, that merchants can avail and save through partner credits.