E-commerce players are increasing their capabilities

First, the shock. Most e-commerce players, whether Swiss or foreign, were surprised by the explosion in demand at the start of the pandemic. Virtual queues on their websites, rapidly incomplete assortments, massive increase in delivery times…

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La Poste even reported a record number of parcels delivered on April 29 with 889,000 parcels. The yellow giant has on average 40% more volume than normal since the start of containment. Credit Suisse, meanwhile, expects e-commerce to see sales increase by around 30% this year. Some online merchants have taken steps to deal with a demand they don’t see abated.

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This is the case of Migros, owner of LeShop.ch. It is now possible to have it delivered within a week, which was unimaginable in early April. The company opened two new distribution centers faster than expected in Nebikon (LU) in mid-March and in Cheseaux (VD) in mid-April. These centers will remain in service after the crisis. “We assume that demand remains very high. The increase in the workforce since the beginning of March and the worsening of the coronavirus crisis reach almost 40%. And we will continue to recruit staff,” explains a spokesperson. According to him, “the online demand for food products will remain in the short and medium term at a very high level, comparable to the last two months”.

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Developments at Coop

Coop, meanwhile, notes that its Coop@home delivery service “has been experiencing the strongest growth for years, and the current crisis further reinforces this trend. As such, we will keep our services and capabilities at a high level and continually develop them,” said a spokeswoman. On the other hand, the distributor will not continue the Top 100 service, which consisted of delivering a limited number of high-demand unrefrigerated products in a few days. “When high demand subsides, we will close the Top 100 store and focus on our regular offering,” she continues.

In turn, Digitec Galaxus, number one in e-commerce (and also owned by Migros), accelerated its investment plans. “We do not expect a similar level of orders at all times during Black Friday, but we are prepared for a long-term capacity increase. At the end of March, the company commissioned a new shuttle at its logistics center in Wohlen, Aargau, which “will allow the site to triple its total capacity. And a new hall is due to be completed in May”. had temporarily borrowed 200 employees from other companies, it is considering extending some of its contracts, and at the same time it is recruiting 20 new employees.

Status quo in textiles

Some textile experts have taken another approach. Equally overwhelmed by the unusual demand, H&M Switzerland cites the sanitary procedures the fashion giant had to implement to explain the delay in deliveries. He believes it is too early to know whether this demand will remain high, but he has still taken steps to increase capacity.

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Covid-19 and the economy

Vertbaudet, the number one online children’s world in Europe, part of the Cyrillus Vertbaudet group, has prioritized employee health ahead of the rush for deliveries. In the logistics center, which is located in France, the teams are very small, even if the orders are larger and the offer has been temporarily reduced to cope. “If one or two employees get sick, it can put the entire warehouse at risk,” explains Ben Proske, managing director of Vertbaudet Switzerland. There are no plans to increase capacity, but a return to normal in the coming weeks.

In a rare case, in Zalando, the first impact was negative. The German fashion giant, with its 32 million customers in Europe, has seen an 8% drop in gross sales volume in the three weeks since March 9. Its model, which allows customers to return much of their purchases, initially suffered from limited travel and sanitary measures. Growth resumed in the first two weeks of April, the Berlin-based company announced in mid-April, which has simplified access to its platform to encourage brands to use it.

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