When the hammer fell and ‘Lockdown’ was imposed, did you rush to the supermarket and scrambled to stock up? The fear of being confined to your home without access to your ‘needs’, your ‘wants’ and everything else you ordinarily wouldn’t think twice about is understandable. COVID measures impacted some businesses, while others made it through. Could your business have survived the lockdown restrictions?

On the evening of 31 March 2020, Directive No.16/CT-TTg came into force, within the hour a big unknown hit most of us. What’s going to happen tomorrow? How do I keep my business going? Who can come to work? A train of thought provoking fear flooded our minds. Key issues about business disruptions and operational continuity, had to be addressed immediately, and fast.

Around the world as governments scrambled to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the immediate call was to get people to stay at home. However, governments had to ensure that the country could still function, to keep the flow of goods moving to the rest of the population. Businesses deemed ‘non-essential’ were forced to close, while ‘essential services’ were allowed to operate.

The Unsolvable Problem

Sales of laptops and tablets surged overnight as schools went online, and businesses moved operations from the office to ‘work-from-home’. Suddenly, everything had to be done remotely, no more face to face interactions, all communications conducted online. Your mobile and laptop was more important than life, your dining table turned into your office, your ‘inbox’ became your command center.

Well, with sufficient hardware, you could work from home and conduct your business online. But you couldn’t move your goods and inventory home right? Neither could you get your team to prepare and ship orders from your home. The immediate disadvantage of running your entire operations in-house has come to light. The unthinkable, unsolvable has just happened.

Our Plan B is Your Plan B

Our customers got it easy, they simply demanded that we stayed open and didn’t have to think twice about it. Like everybody else, we move operations from office to home, the difference is we did in 3 hours, pronto! How did we do it? We had it coming for months, and the weeks leading to the ‘lockdown’, we were already in high gear.

We use Intel NUC computers, powerful machines smaller than your lunch box. Except for our 24 inch monitors, everything else could fit in a handbag, we left the office that day, with our desk in our hands. But moving gear from office to home is easy, that’s just hardware.

All our data is already on the cloud. We still had to fine tune some processes to ensure all operational instructions are captured and transmitted electronically and systematically. We had to ensure everyone knew how to adjust – how and where to find, send, store and share order data when working remotely.

We knew our Plan B will work, but our team must be able to get to the warehouse. We thought of everything, short of planning for alternative alley way routes, we prepared duly signed letters stating who we are, what we do, for our team to carry, in event they were stopped at checkpoints on the road.

Was It Business As Usual?

Logistics being classified as an ‘essential service’, we were allowed to continue operations. Of course, the fear of infection was on everyone’s mind. The team continued to turn up at work, with the exception of one member whose family didn’t allow him to leave his home. We had sufficient manpower to keep the rhythm going and the orders flowing.

Should our operations rely on freelancers, we would be in trouble. Many businesses farm out part of their operations to inexperience, under skilled freelance workers, who stopped going to work for the fear of infection. As a service provider, we need to ensure our customers a consistent service level, rain or shine, do or die, we deliver our promises, and we did.

Our COVID Report Card

Through the COVID lockdown period, we had no down time, actually we had to work over time. We continued to pump out orders day after day. In fact, we maintained our operational capacity of 2000 orders per client per day. Over the entire lockdown period, we processed and dispatched more orders than normal. Same-day dispatch rate was 100%…as usual.

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Lessons from COVID-19

From the COVID experience, did you learn some hard lessons about business continuity? Now that these measures are lifted, are you going back to the same operational design? Perhaps it’s time to rethink, reorganize and restart with an alternative way to ensure your sales and orders can survive the next pandemic or the resurgence of COVID-19.

In the low season or summer holidays, the student population can afford the time and look for work. During school term or nearing the end of term, completing project work, or preparing for exams, or simply social life can take priority over part time work. During COVID, when schools didn’t reopen after Tet, did you have trouble looking for freelance labour?

Freelance labour is never consistent. Plus, they lack the diligence to perform well, and almost never take responsibility for the consequence of work done wrong. However, the same consequence impacts your customers, your business, and you always have to pick up the pieces and make it right…time and again. There are better ways to run your business.

The advantage of outsource fulfilment logistics means you engage a professional logistics company to store your goods, maintain your inventory, pick and pack your orders, process your orders for shipping, and work with last mile vendors. Many of our customers come to us after struggling with the pitfalls of using freelance labour. Give it thought. Give us a call.