The world has become such a strange place in this coronavirus pandemic. It has completely changed our regular lives and the biggest of this outbreak is on businesses. In a bid to promote social distancing, people are not visiting brick-and-mortar stores in most of the nations or states. It also affects online experiences as well.
Most of the people are giving priority to buy things online:
- which they earlier used to buy through physical stores such as groceries, or household items;
- to help with ennui and sanity, especially for teenagers such as garden toys or board games, and
- health necessities, immunity boosters, such as medical items or fitness equipment
On the other side, there are many people who have lost their jobs and are now financially struggling. They are reducing their expenditure on unnecessary items and savings.
In businesses, merchants specifically, you can be in one of the following categories:
- An offline retailer who was forced to close his store, having a need for an online business to keep trading so to retain, not just jobs for the staff but the business itself.
- A retailer who does business both offline and online, but still has closed the store, and currently dealing with a drop of in-person revenue, and demand for increased online sales
- An established online retailer who have seen a huge surge in sales and selling goods in high demand
- A retailer with some form of online presence selling products in low/no demand, or perhaps faced to cease trading altogether
In these above-mentioned categories, the merchants from the first category have to face the maximum number of challenges and obstacles. The online presence of their business is the biggest necessity for them right now. And in most cases, if they are looking for a fast and budget-friendly solution, then Magento may not be the best choice for them. They must look for other platforms that are providing solutions for small businesses such as WooCommerce.
We would be focusing upon those merchants who are already having a Magento store and are divided into two categories:
- Merchants struggling with a sudden surge of demand from the perspective of fulfillment or logistics
- Merchants with little or no demand who are on the verge of shutting down their operations
“If you are not facing any issue with the fulfillment of additional orders, but the site is struggling in dealing with the high amount of traffic, then you should review your server resource/ scalability or review/ fix any performance bottlenecks in the code. Consult with your hosting provider.”
Most of the suggestions will include restricting access or purchase of goods. They are focused on operations that can be implemented directly from the Magento Admin Panel, and you don’t require any sort of development for that.
These scenarios are based on the features of Magento 2 Open source but are also applicable in Magento 1 as well.
- Need to restrict the products customers can purchase or cease trading
- Need to limit the number of products customers can purchase
- We need the customer to purchase a decided minimum quantity of goods
- Can fulfill a limited number of orders or products per day.
1. Need to restrict the products customers can purchase or cease trading:
If you want to sell only essential goods, and can’t provide some items temporarily then you must focus on a smaller range of products for simplifying the fulfilment process. You need to make sure that customers are limited to what they can purchase.
Or, if you want to take the difficult decision to cease the trading, then you have to apply the same across the whole catalogue. There are many different ways to do this, but if not properly done, it can harm the ranking of your site.
Recently, Google has shared an article in which you can learn how to pause your site without impacting the search rankings. It warns against blocking access to some or all releases of your website. From the e-commerce view-point, you don’t need to disable products, categories, or any other landing page from stopping customers to make an order.
If you disable them then it will negatively impact the search rankings. So, when the things will get normal and the pages are re-enabled, you must know that it will take the damage to be repaired i.e. for the pages to regain their previous search ranking.
Hence, instead of turning off all the parts of the site, you can take these steps:
- Update the availability of products (i.e. put items out of stock)
- Disable the checkout
- Provide clear global messaging across the site
Update the availability of products:
Changing the availability of products is a very straightforward task to do. You have complete control over your products, their quantities and stock. You can make any changes easily from the admin panel. You can manage the control over stock through an external system on a frequent schedule. In this way, the changes of the stock within the Magento Admin Panel will be short-lived, as the external integration will revert them whenever it runs.
The best way for doing this is to install an additional module. There is an extension by Fooman by which you can mark products as essential and then apply a global toggle that overrides any stock statuses, making all the nonessential products unavailable.
Disable the checkout:
You will take this step only when you are ceasing the trading, whether for an irregular interval or for the foreseeable future. You must be wondering whether there is a need for applying both checkout disability and the above step. If you wish to restrict the order, this is enough. But as per Google advice, updating the products’ availability and remaining them active is a better option.
For checkout disabling, just turn off all the available shipping methods, payment methods or both. We will advise both for a safer side.
Provide Clear Global Messaging Across the Site:
Both of the above-mentioned measures will restrict your customer from making orders but this can highly be confusing and frustrating for the users. It can create a negative aspect of your e-commerce store.
It is better to provide a message of why you have restricted the orders on the entire site. You just have to add a new content block. Head over to the “CONTENT > Blocks” area of the admin panel, and click on the orange “Add New Block” button in the top right of the page. In this block, add the content you want to display in the header on every page.
2. Need to limit the number of products customer can order:
In the pandemic time, you can’t let a single person buy all the items. Hence, if you are facing issues of a huge demand for some particular items such as grocery items, medical equipment, etc. then you may feel a moral obligation to limit the customers to buy up to a certain quantity.
Luckily, in the Magento Admin Panel we have an option of “Maximum Quantity Allowed in Shopping Cart” setting in which you can set the maximum limit you want to allow customers to purchase. You can set this limit globally i.e. for all products on your Magento store or per product.
The only loophole of this method is that the customers would be able to make multiple orders for obtaining more goods. You can also decline these orders but it will require manual intervention, which is not feasible. Alternatively, you can also add a deterrent through shipping costs, so the multiple order option wouldn’t be an affordable one for the customer.
If restricting the products within the order by a maximum limit is not suitable for you, then you can create a similar effect by showing creativity in the shipping methods. There are in-built “Table Rates” in the Magento by which you can restrict the shipping options by either price, weight, or total quantity of items in the basket. For e.g. you can disallow these orders:
- More than 20 items overall
- Over $100 in total
- Over 10kg overall in the weight
If you need more detail for this setting you must read the guide offered by Magento. You should note one thing that when no rates are available i.e. the customer has not reached a threshold than the default “Sorry, no quotes are available for this order at this time message” should display in place of shipping rates.
3. Need customer to purchase a decided minimum quantity of goods:
Setting a minimum limit of an order doesn’t have any hassle or issue. It is a very logical step which can be easily understood by the customers. It may seem to help the warehouse workers to keep their distance, or to dissuade customers from placing very small quantity orders. In the pandemic, small quantity order can be a waste of resources and money. Anyway, if you want to set a minimum limit for your order then there is an option for this in the Magento Admin Panel. Magento’s Minimum Order Amount functionality can be enabled within the “STORES > Configuration” area of the admin panel, under the “SALES > Sales” section.
Here you can easily set the monetary value to allow customers at the checkout. You can opt for including the tax and discounts in the calculation. You can also set a custom message to display in the cart when the customer order hasn’t met the minimum value required.
After setting this, when the customer will try to checkout with goods less than the minimum limit, then the message will be displayed and the “Proceed to Checkout” button will get disabled.
4. Can fulfil a limited number of orders or products per day:
There may be scenarios when you wouldn’t be able to physically keep up the demand on your e-commerce. It can be either due to the higher volume of orders or a shortage of warehouse staff to fulfil orders. In this case, the short term solution is to limit the orders that you can process daily.
It has been observed a lot in the United Kingdom or in many other countries where the supermarket stores can’t keep up with an increased demand for online ordering or delivery. Most have implemented a commercial queuing (or virtual waiting room) system to restrict access to the site and, therefore, sales.
If you don’t have time or budget to implement such a type of service, then you are left with applying the same suggestion as discussed earlier: disabling checkout.
As before, you would want to disable the shipping or payment for ultimately disabling the checkout, but daily after hitting the maximum capacity of fulfilment. The following day you can re-enable and continue to repeat this cycle.
You can also use a global messaging panel to make it clear for the customers. You can create static content blocks each for trading and when you are paused.
5. Need to Restrict Shipping to particular locations or carriers:
There can be scenarios when you were not able to fulfil the order for a specific location or having issues with individual carriers, they must make changes in the shipping.
If you are using a 3rd party shipping integration then it is likely you have already managed it. If not, then you can use the default Table Rates shipping method.
We really hope that this piece of article would be helpful for you to manage your store in this pandemic. We are going through a tough time and knowing new things can really help in passing through it. If you have feedback on any of the suggestions or have other scenarios you’d like some guidance on, we will be grateful to know. At Ceymox Technologies, the best Magento development company in India, we have every type of consultation and solution for you.