Dear Bali & Homewares Lovers,
Bali like elsewhere is in the middle of a health, social and economic crisis due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. Others more qualified can comment on lock down, causes, social distancing, a vaccine etc.
What I would like to share with you is what we have done and are doing to move our own business and our own teams and families here in Bali through this testing time, in the hope this may be of some help to you. We would love to know how things are for you and your own business as well.
I have learned that a simple Q & A is a great way to start most topics. So some simple Q & A to begin:
How are we diversifying our business during these times?
A bit of back ground first. We are fortunate that we began diversifying over two years ago, in response mainly to what our customers were asking for. We have two retail homewares stores, but the majority of our business is now wholesale. We noticed a strong and growing demand for B2B services, and less for D2C (direct to consumer). So we changed our business model around to being a B2B one stop shop, that supports new and existing businesses to sell to consumers, beautiful handmade homewares from Bali.
We became less focused on selling direct to a customer (online retail and in store), and more focused on attracting and supporting businesses. This changed our business completely, and changed what we plan for, and what we do on a daily basis.
So what do we do that’s different now?
A whole bunch of new services and systems: we are offering a free start up homewares business advisory service; we have launched an automated Wholesale Members Club (including an online Wholesale Buying System); we have added a range of fulfilment services - D2C Outsource (Store, Brand, Pick, Pack, Ship) + Amazon FBA + Bulk Fulfilment; we have launched a Private Labeling & Branding Service; and we have initiated a process to increase on-island Interior Designer collaborations (borrowing of homewares).
More importantly, we have changed our mindset so we see our selves as a services business, solving customer needs, not just a homewares business. Make sense?
Some of the above actions we had started slowly, played with or thought about prior to the pandemic, but now we have planned them all out as projects, and actioned them all.
Are we still operating & how?
We have closed our two home stores to the general public, however our staff are still working in the shops and/or remotely to fulfil ongoing container & online orders, new quotes and invoices, and maintain new customer/account care.
As retail store sales have decreased, we have broken our staff up into 4 Teams during this period, in order to focus on some key areas we identified we needed to improve in - one team is focused on Inventory & Barcoding all new, current stock, and warehouse items (we fell behind on this as our Fulfilment & Orders section were stretched with too many orders); an Online Product Team, responsible for getting all the items we have in store but not online, photographed and published; a New Projects Team (focused on getting the project we listed earlier planned and actioned); and a Marketing Team (focused on a new Newsletter, SEO, Soc Med, SEM, B@B market place expansion etc).
Have we launched any new campaign we can share?
Yes. This blog & newsletter are our newest marketing focus! We have around 5000+ email subscribers, and we have never sent an email. Lets see how we go!
What are the challenges?
There are a number of challenges in Bali which every business is experiencing here and globally in regard to our supply chain and delivery chains. Like everyone, we are naturally having challenges with stocking some items that are out of stock (because our manufacturers are closing, reducing output, or operating at reduced capacity), and with scheduling deliveries (because of reductions/restrictions in shipping & cargo flights/deliveries/collections, inter-island and overseas). This affects our normal order processing times. And this changes on a daily basis.
Any Good News?
Yes. The good news is that we have communicated the issues the pandemic is causing us with all customers with existing open orders, and all of them have been really understanding and cool with the slow down. We have not lost any existing open order business because of the pandemic.
In addition, as we are a digital business, our new customer enquires have increased, and this has meant in an increase in the rest of the sales funnel & process. I am not sure how long this will continue. I expect it is because people are in Isolation, so are searching. It will be interesting to see the conversion rate (enquiry to sale) later for this period. I expect some enquiries are driven by boredom.
The other good news, is that we have not had to lay off any staff or reduce salaries, and our staff are learning a bunch of new skills.
Any Collaboration Ideas?
Any platform that allows businesses to cross share what they are doing is a great way to move forward. Please let me know if you have any ideas we can share.
So thats about it for us. I would be really interested in hearing about your experiences as a business either in Bali or any where.
Feel Free to comment below.
Praying for the world. Be safe and well.