Coronavirus is affecting the operations of business worldwide, but it does this mean for dropshippers? As with most businesses there are challenges along the way. In fact, things are beginning to look up for both dropshippers and their suppliers.
The Coronavirus, or COVID 19, is a virus strain that was first detected in Wuhan, China. The first public report about this virus was released in December 2019. Wuhan City was placed under quarantine, and soon after, more cities in China followed.
Around this time, many dropshippers took a break as Chinese suppliers were on holiday to celebrate the Lunar New Year. While the holiday was in progress, it quickly became apparent that dropshipping from China wouldn’t be as smooth as we’ve been used to. Especially since the holiday was extended to manage growing health concerns.
Initially, the Coronavirus epidemic primarily affected dropshippers who sourced their products from China. Since factories were not open, new products could not be made. Even suppliers with inventory were not allowed to open for business. Most cities in China were placed under restrictions, so goods could not be shipped as effectively as usual. Dropshipping from China experienced a quick decline.
As the spread of the virus reached a global pandemic, dropshippers who worked with fulfillment companies outside of China also started to feel the impact. By February, the virus had spread to all continents except Antarctica. Countries began to close their borders and sending goods across became significantly more tasking. The courier industry also slowed down and dropshippers who were still active reported longer shipping timelines.
The dropshipping industry has taken a big hit in the past three months due to the Coronavirus (COVID 19) pandemic. However, there are still many dropshipping stores that are open for business and making sales. Yes, you can still make sales and profit during this time. As a dropshipper, you may need to take a more hands-on approach to your business rather than automating tasks as usual. During these times, effective communication is needed to ensure that your stores keep performing from the marketing to the point-of-sale, and finally, delivery. The first step is to reassure your customers.
Growing Customer Concerns
While not all customers understand the dropshipping model, many of them are aware that products almost always come from China. This was made evident with the response to dropshippers after the Coronavirus pandemic became an issue. While the virus was still contained within China, customers were already concerned about getting Coronavirus through their packages. Now, we have better information to help assuage these concerns.
When a customer poses a question about the risk rate, it’s important to give them an evidence-based answer such as this one:
It is very unlikely that a customer will be infected with Coronavirus through a package from China. In a recent study, “In terms of half-life, the research team found that it takes about 66 minutes for half the virus particles to lose function if they are in an aerosol droplet.” On cardboard, which is what a lot of packages come in, the half-life was around three and a half hours. Considering how long it takes for a product shipped from China to reach another country, your customers shouldn’t be worried about receiving contaminated packages.
Shipping from China
Ironically, the best news about the Coronavirus right now comes from China. Due to the quick response from their government, Wuhan and other provinces quickly went into quarantine. Over the past few weeks, they’ve seen a steady drop in the number of cases recorded. Last week, Wuhan City shut down its last emergency hospital which was set up to contain the virus. Their infection rates are so low that existing hospitals are fully capable of taking care of the remaining patients.
Cities and businesses around China are already reopening. This includes factories and other supporting companies (such as suppliers and couriers) which are necessary to the dropshipping process. There are also many suppliers with inventory collected before the start of the holiday. So while you should find a manufacturer for your products, there are also suppliers with ready-to-ship products.
However, during this period, I would advise that you only work with suppliers you have a history with. Otherwise, do your best to confirm that suppliers have the products they claim to before placing an order.
Dropshipping Tips and Growth Potential
While the situation is improving in China, other countries don’t have the same results yet. Some countries have not recovered yet and you would need to make sure you are shipping to countries that are still accessible.
In the US, mail services such as USPS and FedEx have promised to keep operating. Their delivery timelines may change, but they are still open for business. Also ePacket from Chine is a viable option since a lot of the suppliers and factories in China have re-opened and the flow of deliveries is improving daily.
It is important to note that some obstacles can actually hide opportunities within. For example during the SARS outbreak in 2003 Alibaba Group which owns Aliexpress actually started it’s online retail business, Taobao, during that outbreak.
During this time you spend the extra time on building your social networks, Work on your shop SEO as well as on your Email sequences.
While we wait for more news…
Dropshippers who intend to continue making sales over the next few months will have to take a more hands-on approach to their business. One upside is that you now have enough time to review your business and your methods. Find winning products, design your branding, develop ads, and set your store ready-to-go. No one can conclusively say when the Coronavirus pandemic will be over. However, customers are still making online purchases every day, which means that dropshippers are still in business.