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Help Desk
Published: April 30, 2020

Between March 23 and April 17, 2020, Advantage Group UK surveyed 35 suppliers to uncover the impact that COVID-19 has had on their relationships with e-commerce retailers to understand how both partners can work better together today and in the event of a second crisis wave. For UK e-commerce retailers and suppliers to succeed during and post-crisis, partnership is pivotal. The following learnings can be applied to support getting products delivered to homes efficiently and safely.

Current Considerations
  • Work quickly and collaboratively to address surge in demand
  • Be transparent and open: share challenges and the steps being taken to address them
  • Pick up the phone versus communicating via email
  • Retailers want to talk about the present; Suppliers understand that future planning will have to wait
  • Promotions are not the focus in the present 

“Everything is changing at pace given COVID-19…we are trying to find collaborative and creative ways of helping with fulfilling the demand and leveraging space online.”

United Kingdom Supplier

“We are just trying to get as much stock to our customers as we can. The whole strategy has fallen by the wayside at the moment, it is literally how much stock can we produce and how quickly can we get it to them.  We are not having a separate conversation off the back of COVID-19 with the trading teams, it is purely with the main trading teams and supply chains.”

United Kingdom Supplier

Future Considerations

  • Communicate and collaborate with suppliers openly and regularly
  • Share challenges, priorities and plans
  • Maintain transparency around product availability and forecasting
  • Give suppliers as much notice as possible about changing plans
  • Share data
  • Fix existing online issues
  • Clarify future online strategies based on the new environment

“We need to make sure that we are really clear on availability of products…we do not want to annoy shoppers by having it on the website but when it comes to their shop being delivered, it not being there.”

United Kingdom Supplier

“E-Commerce Retailers need to be clear on what they want to achieve…Are they still looking to attract new shoppers? Do they want to continue to drive growth or is it about transferring people from to in-store shopping to drive the profit?  They need to show us their strategy and then we can work out how we can support that.”

United Kingdom Supplier

Second Wave Actions

  • Share learnings from the first wave and build contingency plans together
  • React quickly to apply learnings from the first wave at the start of the second
  • Invest in technology
  • Communicate limitations around delivery and availability to shoppers early
  • Quickly switch on additional dark stores so online is not picked in-store
  • Increase depot capacity, picking slots, drivers, and delivery vans
  • Work proactively with suppliers on key product ranges

“Having an increased number of delivery trucks, and the ability to quickly switch on additional dark stores…doubling or tripling the amount of dark stores…only serving online deliveries from those stores”

United Kingdom Supplier

“In the event of a second COVID-19 wave, the measures that E-Commerce Retailers could take to better respond to the crisis would be taking what they have learnt from this to date, and doing it sooner… It’s things like reducing the range to the bare minimum and limiting the number of products each consumer can order.”

United Kingdom Supplier
COVID-19 UK Infographic Working with E-Commerce Retailers