Hi Debra,

A really good question which is being discussed ALOT in the world of retail. I am a stickler for the rules in times like this. We all need to do our bit and for those trying to get around the guidelines, you tend to get a lot of push back from customers and the public which can destroy your brand.

NZ Post and Courier services are continuing to ensure the service levels of essential businesses. Both domestically and internationally. All incoming freight has the same rules applied but the reality is, some stuff is getting delivered from Australian retailers.

Essential businesses and those that support them – for instance in their supply chains – will continue to provide necessities to all New Zealanders. The New Zealand government continues to update its list of what is deemed to be an essential business. If you are unsure if you are an essential business supplier visit http://www.covid19.govt.nz/government-actions/covid-19-alert-level/#Essential-businesses

There are retailers still sending their products but you can see the crap they are copping. Big chains like Mecca and Ezibuy are despatching through their Australian distribution network. Is this fair? No.Why are they above the rules? Sometimes shit happens and there are so many bigger issues for the government to deal with they just haven’t go to this yet.

Are those Aussie retailers getting grief? Yes.
Want to see the type of grief these businesses are getting? Go to Facebook and look at the feedback Cotton-on is getting. I don’t think it is worth it for the damage it is doing to its brand.

A big brand can survive the loss of loyalists. I am not sure a credible NZ brand should put themselves in that position.

Retailers large and small are wondering if they should be continuing to sell and deliver later. Do so with care. Here is a good article outlining why to be considered.

Buy now, receive later: Is it okay to take shoppers’ payments and dispatch goods after lockdown? UPDATED

Finally, retailers/sellers must be incredibly confident if they are going to continue to sell (if they are a non-essential service) while in lockdown. Unfortunately, there are many businesses on a knives edge and whilst this might look appealing to generate cash flow, there are fish hooks they need to be aware of.

– Do you have the stock on hand?
– Can you manage to monitor stock while you are selling it (so you don’t sell stuff they don’t have)?
– If you don’t have the stock, when and where is it coming from?
– Will it still come in a timely manner post-Covid?
– Will the price possible need to change post-Covid if it is something you produce because material costs change? Will the customer pay the difference so you don’t lose out or will you wear that?
– What happens it the customer changes their mind and wants a refund?
– Will you be able to accommodate this (remember lots of customers circumstances will change in the coming weeks as businesses close).

If you do continue to sell with the product/service to come later, I only hope that customers, continue to be kind if the pre-purchased items are no longer available or take a lot longer than was anticipated.

Imagine the stress if post-Covid those customers have unreasonable demands asking for refunds and cancellations. You really need to consider if you cost structure is going to change as a result of Covid. Eg.if the product you are selling post-Covid might cost you more than you sold it for in-Covid?
Not only will this tip your cash flow but also tip your state of mind.

There is no rule book for Covid but there is a rulebook for prudently managing retail businesses in tough times.