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Feb 25, 2020
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Coronavirus: what can retailers do to reduce its impact?

Published
Feb 25, 2020

Planning for a sharp, sudden increase of home deliveries and reassuring staff are some of the steps retailers, importers and delivery companies can take to mitigate the effect of Covid-19, the virus that is crippling some of the world’s top markets, said ParcelHero.



At a time of caution and uncertainty, many retailers have warned that they could face a shortage of new stock and see supply chain delays due to the coronavirus outbreak.

While the disease’s final effect on world trade has yet to be determined, global companies can start putting plans into action to prepare for sudden changes in supply chains.

According to a report from international courier ParcelHero, companies should set up a central emergency team that can communicate effectively, working remotely if necessary. And now is a good time to implement business ‘chat rooms’ like Microsoft Teams, and opt for video conferencing over face-to-face meetings.

Additionally, companies are likely to see an increase in online shopping and home deliveries, especially if Covid-19 becomes more established in the UK. ParcelHero predicts that many consumers will avoid busy shopping areas and some may take up home deliveries for the first time.

It will be important to be aware of what stock will be in demand and what in decline, with products sourced directly from China likely to suffer a hit. There will also be significant delays in China courier services, as Chinese shipments are facing cancellations or delays. 

And companies may need to look at suppliers in other countries to address supply shortages: Primark revealed this week it is considering relocating some manufacturing to non-Chinese factories, and Apple has warned of supply disruption.

In light of a significant pandemic, ParcelHero also recommended retail businesses and manufacturers to review their operations to maximise cash flow rather than profits, as there could be unexpected potential changes in global logistics and retail patterns.

“Some experts are predicting the new coronavirus’ impact could be greater than the 1918 Spanish flu, and cause a larger recession than the 2008 crash. On the other hand, many health professionals are saying it is unlikely to have a greater effect than many typical global flu outbreaks. Whatever the truth, Covid-19 is already having a significant impact on global supply chains and trade; and everyone, from the largest international exporter, to the smallest man-and-van courier, needs to prepare for ongoing economic and social difficulties,” said head of consumer research, David Jinks.

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