The reality of e-commerce operating with a remote team in wartime Ukraine – forbes

Ecommerce Magazin: What is the working format of your team currently? To what extent did the war change the teamwork system?

Roman Chynkarenko: We run an online business and have built the work so the team can work remotely from anywhere in the world. Therefore, in general, the team and their salaries did not suffer. Since we mainly sell to the US market, we tied the workers’ wages to the US dollar to make the workers feel more relaxed. Therefore, when the dollar/hryvnia exchange rate jumped, workers’ wages in hryvnia also increased.

When the war broke out, our workers were in kyiv. When kyiv came under fire, my wife and I, as business owners, took on most of the responsibility. As some of the employees could not leave the firing area, someone could not work normally due to stress. The main task of the employees was to ensure their own safety, we immediately told them not to worry about work or salary, we kept all their jobs and salaries for them.

As soon as everything calmed down more or less, the team began to be more active in their professional duties.

E-commerce Magazin: What tools, applications, programs do you use to build effective work of a remote team and communicate with it?

Roman: All teamwork is built with the Trello tasks app: we set tasks there for days, weeks, and months. We also meet regularly at Zoom. In addition, we correspond in the Telegram messenger, we conduct group and individual chats. Generally, these three tools are sufficient for effective online communication with the team.

E-commerce Magazin: How do you run the business? What has changed and what has stayed the same?

Roman: Since our company is active in the United States and other countries, nothing has been particularly affected. Oil prices have not yet had a significant impact on logistics costs. And inflation has not yet had a drastic effect on the price of capital goods.

However, we have noticed a slight drop in sales in the United States. But here, in my opinion, inflation still has a bigger impact – prices are rising on everything and we will have to raise them soon too. Because the prices of raw materials, production and logistics are increasing gradually but steadily.

E-commerce Store: You have successfully implemented your marketing strategies and programs to do business in the United States and Australia. Could you please tell us what a company should do if, due to the war, the marketing budget has been halved or even tripled?

Roman: We all know that marketing costs are essential. With a limited budget, you will have to maneuver. Namely, allocate your budget to only the most convertible ad types and the highest margin products for maximum profit.

It all depends on the request. It could be redistributed from the more expensive products to the less expensive products, and then the advertising budget must be redirected. But the rule with ad conversion remains. It will no longer be possible to spend money on “zero” experiments or advertising campaigns in order to maintain organic positioning (if we are talking about the Internet), unless you take it back over time, when the activity will return to normal.

It must be remembered that despite the war, the market does not stop. Especially when talking about international markets. The economy has to work anyway.

E-commerce Magazin: Roman, in 6 years of working in the American and European market, your company has introduced more than 50 articles in the market in 4 different categories. Thanks to your experience in digital marketing, you have managed to multiply by more than 4 the turnover of your company in the last two years alone. Please provide some advice on how to maintain and grow your online business during the war.

Roman: If we’re talking about internet business in a country at war, the first piece of advice is to move on to the products that people need. Especially if the production site of these items is nearby. For example, if you were selling coffee or chocolate, for example, in your category, find something more affordable – water or milk. If you have sold the right high-end products, you should definitely consider products in the same category, but low-end, because price is now important to people. Your margin will decrease, but your revenue will likely stay the same.

The second tip is cost optimization. Reduce your advertising costs. Check if you need advertising now, maybe you have organic traffic and that’s already enough. However, if that’s not enough, consider highly targeted advertising with a small budget. Close the test ad, it’s not worth allocating funds to it now.

If you’ve had a large company and lots of different auto-dial apps or expensive CRM systems, ask yourself if you need them now because they eat up subscription money every month. Perhaps it is worth reconsidering the cost of mobile communication for employees.

The third tip is optimizing and reorienting the team. You may have delivered goods to customers through a courier in the past, but now you have the option of delivering your orders yourself. You can also distribute the obligation to deliver the orders between the employees who have fewer tasks, so that they still have work, so that you do not lose your team like that. In many companies, the staff is reduced during the war, so the right way out of this situation is to reorient and save the team.

The work schedule should also be reviewed. If you have a large team and want to keep it, but there are no tasks for everyone, you can transfer some people to part-time work. It works the other way around as well. If the team is small and the dimensions of the tasks have increased, it is worth increasing the working hours or reducing the number of days off, for example, one day every two weeks and paying overtime to employees if it is not possible to hire one more person. In the current situation, both options are justified.

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