E-Commerce agency diary during COVID-19

E-Commerce agency diary during COVID-19 image

It’s Sunday, March the 29th, at 7:00 p.m. our family phone rings, an owner of a local supermarket in Vienna’s 2nd district is calling and asking me to come urgently to his store. This all happened one week before being introduced to a rule obligating people to wear masks in public. It’s Sunday, we just got back from the Prater woods and the times are confusing.

Arriving at the supermarket at 19:15, I can see the owner is distracted and confused. I approached him and asked if everything is alright. “The Police has been here, we might need to close now due to the pandemic, but the holidays are coming up and we are fully stocked,” he replied

That’s not the end of it, he pauses for a few moments, thinks in silence and comes up with the sentence I will never forget:

“I need an online store until tomorrow morning with approximately 2.000 products!”

Coming from the startup background it was clear to me, the white night ahead it is and I was quick to think fast and contact my Sharobella team.

The secret sauce of how to get e-commerce live in 12 hours is ahead of you (Don’t try this at home!)

Firstly, think about the products, what information do we have and in which format is it. Then, organize the data as much as possible (barcodes, names, categories, prices), and prepare to import it as a CSV file.

Secondly, product images are a big task to manage, it’s almost 19:30, we needed to come up with a quick plan. Driving with a truck to the 22nd district caring 2.000 items to our partners’ photo-studio is too much work. We need something quick. 🤔

“Mobile shootings”, nothing could be faster at this point. We asked the supermarket staff to open Telegram groups, and shoot from their smartphones 3 images per product in the following order:

  1. Barcode photo
  2. Photo from the front
  3. Photo from the back

Thirdly, we went to a freelancer platform looking for VAs (virtual assistants) I guess you know from where. We downloaded samples of images and assigned the rest of the tasks.

Next, where is the e-commerce part you are probably asking? It’s code time!

Deploying a quick Linux machine and running a WooCommerce - WordPress shop - my team and I are on it. We assigned to the supermarket’s shop subdomain. We chose the simple, yet stable and fast WordPress template - a storefront. We opened an account via Stripe & PayPal as online payment processes. Filling company data, installing our recommended WordPress plugins, allowed us to support compliance and basic functionality of the store and that’s how lean it goes.

Lastly, it’s already 22:00 it’s time to hire the VAs, introduce more automation, data imports, style touch-ups, email setups, invoice configurations, CDN and first successful test orders are there. The sun is rising, birds are singing and it’s already 6:48. A new week starts. It’s Monday morning! We all love Mondays, time to go to sleep.

Waking up around 2 PM and seeing dozens of orders and many more messages, it was all simply overwhelming, helping with groceries for an entire community with ordering online during the pandemic before Passover felt like being Moses. The following week was dedicated to the optimization of this shop during the night while customers were sleeping.

This story taught us a valuable lesson!

  1. Have the right product at the right place and at the right time.
  2. MVPs are real and being lean is the key.
  3. Nothing should stop creativity
  4. Things can be done today
  5. Be digital on time

It’s time to thank all the amazing people who have been working on this special project and we wish to come back to normal days soon.

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