The much-awaited opening up of delivery of non-essential goods through eCommerce has helped meet consumer demands in a safe and secure way, while easing the burden of piled up inventory and allowing the government to continue its efforts to ensure public safety.

Live data from our global Commerce Cloud platform shows that Salesforce customers worldwide have seen an over 20% growth in online sales during this crisis, with some eCommerce firms posting over 300% growth rates.

For many retailers and consumer products companies in India, online is their lifeline. Many more brands have now started to provide their end-customers the option to transact online. The launch of Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) eCommerce sites are popular across FMCG, manufacturing and distribution companies, helping them protect sales, brand presence and value, and to provide loyal customers with a faster path to purchase.

But what about the marketplaces, I hear you ask. They can be a fast route to sales, particularly for clearance of old stock. But we believe they should be viewed as one of the channels to market rather than the principal one. Unfortunately, marketplaces provide brands with little access to vital customer data. This is a big problem if you want to build rich customer profiles to drive repeat sales, innovation in merchandising or to boost customer loyalty for your brand. As Clive Humby rightly said back in 2006, “Data is the new oil”, and I would add that once you find it you need to maintain control over it. 

We also see many Manufacturing and Distribution companies looking to automate their Business-to-Business (B2B) sales processes as a direct reaction to current inabilities to provide field sales coverage to their clients. Working from the premise that if business customers can access their contract pricing, product availability, quick re-ordering and customised content through online self-service, many will take this up and never turn back. There is a strong chance that this upheaval may set the new normal in the reduction of field sellers and the much-anticipated move to B2B (& B2B2C) Commerce. 

In response to this need for rapid eCommerce solutions, Salesforce, working in concert with our key global partners, has released “QuickStart Commerce Packages”. These quickly provide an end-to-end managed service that includes site Merchant Setup, Merchandising, Catalogue Management, Third Party Payments, and Tax Integration. In something that is very new to the industry, these eCommerce sites for Direct to Consumer or QuickStarts, are built around the Salesforce Platform that provides all the security, scalability and innovation you would expect from the world’s most trusted innovator. We achieve this rapid time-to-value through a templated, minimum viable product (MVP) approach and by leveraging our globally shared and SaaS-delivered Commerce Cloud. Business to Business eCommerce can be deployed in as little as two to four weeks!

Of course, quickly deploying a new eCommerce service is only part of the solution and it’s also important to be ready for what your customers want to know in the future.

Tips on what your eCommerce customers will want to know:

  • Are you accepting online orders and delivering?

  • Should I expect delivery delays?

  • Are there online promotions to compensate for store closures?

  • I’ve relocated because of the pandemic. Can I update my shipping location?

  • How can I return items during the pandemic?

  • Have you extended return periods?

  • Are you expecting delays in restocking or upcoming releases due to the pandemic?

  • How can I contact customer support?

  • What are the expected response times?

The full impact of this period – both human and economic – will not be realised for some time yet. What we do know is that with some retailers being forced out of business, companies need to quickly emerge from this period with new opportunities to connect with customers and reimagine their business models. Our solutions provide a quick, end-to-end managed service that helps companies, regardless of size and location, leverage big opportunities for innovation.

If rapid delivery of a new D2C or B2B eCommerce solution is important to you, please ask your Salesforce Account Executive about our QuickStart Commerce Packages.