How We Run Our Online Store During the Pandemic
In the context of the pandemic and quarantine, many businesses were forced to move online. Those who did not have online stores before had to urgently start selling online. Prior to quarantine, most of our transactions took place online, so we managed to avoid significant changes. Last month, one major publication interviewed us and we talked in detail about how our online store is managed.
Did your company have an online store before quarantine? If so, how were the sales distributed between online and offline?
We have had an online store before the quarantine, we sell there a license for our software. There are two payment options: 1) under an agreement, or contract, with a payment in the form of a bank transfer, 2) payment for a subscription through a personal account.
The first option is suitable for one-time purchases of a perpetual license (large corporations use it more often). The second is more convenient when a customer buys a subscription to a license and renews it every three months (but at the same time, an electronic funds transfer check may not be accepted for accounting reporting if payment is made with the personal card of the employee).
The distribution is approximately the following: 90% of customers pay by card with their personal account, 10% choose payment through a bank under an agreement. Now it is becoming easier with the introduction of electronic document management. We no longer need to spend money on delivering the necessary documents, everything is online and paperless.
What has changed with the transition to complete remote work? How did you adapt it to the needs of online sales?
For us, nothing has changed in this regard. The licenses we sell are not tangible media, and keys can be sent by email. The only difficulty may be in the delivery of offline keys - this is a type of license on USB-drives (they are used in the banking sector or in military enterprises where internet access is not available at all access points). Not so long ago, we received orders from Korea and Lebanon, but now we need to wait for the quarantine to end to send USB keys there: airmail to these countries is currently closed.
What product categories sell best online?
License subscriptions are best sold online and customers prefer to purchase perpetual licenses under a subscription.
How does the shipment and delivery of goods work? And how do you work with complaints and returns?
If we are talking about the sale of license subscriptions, the purchase happens as follows: the customer registers with a personal account, makes a purchase through the payment system built into the personal account (we work with several payment gateways, e.g. PayPal and American Express), and receives the key which is then registered on the server. If the customer uses the trial version of the subscription and decides to buy it, then the trial key is automatically converted into a license key.
As for the returns, we see this as a violation of our business processes. For example, when an online shop delivers its goods to delivery points, they can only hope that those goods will be redeemed. If the goods remain unclaimed, it would be cheaper to dispose of them than to transport them back to the warehouse.
We do not have refunds due to the specifics of our product. We sell a software product that is installed on a server. If someone comes to us and says “I accidentally bought a subscription, but did not use it,” this is almost impossible to track. It’s easier for us to say that we do not accept returns.
There are times when customers accidentally expand the license package. In this scenario, we recalculate and simply extend the license to the client for the period corresponding to the payment. So we, in fact, work completely without returns.
Do you plan to keep this going even after quarantine?
Yes, we plan to work according to the same scheme after quarantine, since for us it is our main line of business.
The only problem we regularly encounter is when customers pay with PayPal. It allows any user to dispute any transaction, in which case PayPal first returns the money to the customer, and only then it begins to figure out if there has been any violation. Unscrupulous users are happy to use this, so we immediately block such customers.
Do you have any discounts due to the pandemic? And could you share some know-how or achievements in your remote work?
We work with various business areas - from cafes, shops, and hotels to multinational companies. Nowadays, the tourism and entertainment sector is suffering a lot. Hotels, restaurants, cafes, and resorts have been left without customers. Due to this, we offer them discounts and special conditions for the quarantine.
In addition, video surveillance in the field of security has become very relevant again. Offices, cafes, restaurants, and some shops are empty. Business owners can attain peace of mind for the safety of their property by installing our video surveillance systems. So, we offer our main customers - telecom operators - the ability to increase the profitability of their customer base. This can be arranged in a short time and at a minimal cost.
Our entire team now works remotely, and for many of us, this is an unusual experience. But we always had the so-called hybrid remote system: part of the team works in the office, another part is in different cities and countries. All of our hardware processes are remotely controlled. We know that if any server fails in the office, it can be rebooted without leaving home. Employees are accustomed to an online chat culture. Task management has also always been carried out digitally. All our work was built so that it can be done remotely without any problems.