Best Practice Advice for eCommerce sites when businesses are closed.

The continuing need for social distancing means that some businesses may have difficulties in fulfilling orders taken online because of warehouse shutdowns or a lack of availability with couriers. We’re also aware of some clients who are facing unprecedented demand for their products and services and who need help with managing this.

It’s vitally important to take the right steps when it comes to changes to your website if you need to slow down or stop the rate of orders coming in.

We’re contacting all customers today to give our advice on how this should be handled. Should you need any help putting any of these steps into place then please contact us at support@gravit-e.co.uk

We remain fully open, working remotely to support our customers and their businesses at this difficult time. 

If products are out of stock and may be out of stock for a while

There is no need to remove these products from your website at this time. 
If you normally use our Infinite Stock setting, it may be advisable to switch this off and use normal stock limits for now.

Check that your up-sells and product alternatives are up to date and change these in the CMS if necessary to products that can be fulfilled.

If products are discontinued or need to be temporarily removed from sale

Products that are discontinued should be discontinued using the existing functionality for products that are being superseded or a web redirect. 

We do not recommend redirecting discontinued products to your homepage, you should redirect to a compatible replacement product or to the appropriate product category.

If you can still fulfil, but slower than usual

If your business is able to stay open but your ability to fulfil orders has changed, changes to your shipping matrix and how you communicate availability are important.

Deactivate any shipping methods that you cannot currently commit to, such as next day delivery, by un-publishing these methods in the CMS. Don’t delete them, you will need them when things return to normal!

Change any shipping methods that are still available but will take longer or be different at the time being.

Making sure that your customers have a clear understanding of what products and services you can provide is paramount to avoid disappointing customers and creating customer service issues for yourself.

If you have content on your site promising certain service levels, update it through the CMS. Any hard-coded elements in your templates can be updated by our developers via a support call.

If you cannot fulfil at all

If you have sadly needed to close your warehouse for the time being and do not wish to take orders, we strongly advise against putting your site into an “offline mode”. This will generate a large number of 404 errors when Google is unable to reach your content and could have long term ramifications for your search engine optimisation.

Instead, we recommend shutting down the checkout process so that customers cannot checkout but can still see your products, make enquiries, etc.

Our recommended process for this is as follows:

  1. Create a new static page explaining your position and offering advice to customers on how they can reach you with queries etc.
  2. Create redirects in your CMS to this page for the cart, cart/add, and cart/checkout pages.

This will prevent customers from using the checkout process but will preserve, as much as possible, your indexation with search engines

Communicating clearly

Your blog is the ideal place to post regular updates on your status. Add a link in your main menu to your blog post to help visitors find this information easily.

If you want to include a link in your website header pointing to a specific page and your template does not currently support this, please contact us and we will help you implement this.

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