A look at everything that has happened since the coronavirus pandemic appeared
We imagine that things have not been easy during these months of the pandemic and that your life has changed quite a bit. Now, when you leave the house, in addition to your keys, wallet and cellphone, there's another element you must not forget: The face mask.
We thought you might like to know what has happened at Trendsplant since the last state of alarm was decreed in Spain, as well as other similar measures of restriction elsewhere on the planet at this time.
Let us remember. The first thing we did was to pause our shipments until the number of infections dropped. During the week of March 17, we transferred our mode of thinking to all our customers: ‘By reducing contact, we reduce the risk'. We did not want our employees to leave home to come to work, we did not want our carriers to have to come and pick up orders, we wanted to free up the distribution network and make it available for essential goods, we did not need to receive more stock from the factories we have been working with for years.
We really expected a flood of messages, complaints and criticism, but instead, what we received was a lot of understanding. From that moment on, our aim was that every person who came to buy at Trendsplant would know our position, ensuring that during the purchasing process, they would be aware that their order would not be delivered at the moment, that it would involve an unspecified period of time, and that they would receive a special email after their purchase informing them of the new process. It all worked out smoothly.
Another decision we made was to cancel the shipping costs. Trendsplant customers were undergoing hardships because their orders were not being received as usual, which was sufficient reason to go the extra mile: Offer some compensation, though minimal, for not being able to provide the usual service.
Our uncertainties were more than our fears. We kept reading reports on the fashion world about how the pandemic would affect the industry: Defaults, layoffs, changes in logistics and shipping, factory closures, and so on. For us, fortunately, everything went well. We went one month without any shipping, which gave us time to prepare our warehouse with hydroalcoholic gels, gloves, face masks, and above all, to organize the shifts so that there was only one person preparing orders and, most importantly, that this person had gone through confinement without any symptoms. During those weeks, the shipping agencies also improved their workers' means of prevention. As a curious fact, we handed out Trendsplant masks to all the messengers who came to pick up orders from our warehouse; some of them initially did not even have masks provided by their company.
As a matter of fact, confinement led us to explore the production of a new product that today forms an essential part of our day to day, albeit for a limited time: The face masks. First of all, we inform ourselves in every way possible, we try to collect as much information as we can from the #masks4all movement and transfer it to all our followers and customers. We did not expect that a new product for us, such as the face masks, would have such a good reception in our community.
At the beginning of the confinement period, we despaired because we were not sure what would happen to us: Online sales were down and the shop was closed. We decided to develop the masks and on April 6th everything changed for us. We were among the first to have a product for sale and the numbers shot up, we ran out of stock in a week and since then it was a month and a half of madness. April became the highest-billing month in Trendsplant history, and we had to learn about certification, regulations, and types of mask protection and fabrics.
We resumed shipments when the number of infections began to decline, which was almost in May. We followed clear guidelines in order to organize everything well and avoid too much contact, and the warehouse hours were scheduled so that there would be only one person per shift. We were ready to roll again: Masks, gloves, gel and applying proper care measures.
It was real madness, a lot of volume compared to what we normally do. But the difficulties bring new learning opportunities. Under these circumstances, we were forced to implement a couple of new web integrations that have ended up making the work a whole lot easier today. We did two full sessions of daily warehouse work for more than a week to be able to process everything with only one person per shift, with another person working remotely to generate the pick-ups and the shipping labels.
As you can imagine, these months meant failure for us. To take one example, at the end of April, our logistics partner that distributed in Belgium had many orders frozen up to 20 and even 30 days, which of course generated some problems, but once again, we appreciate our customers’ high level of understanding.
We have also seen weaknesses in the Customer Service section: An increasing number of questions have been asked about products, shipments, and especially about face masks. We have had to request assistance from all departments to answer emails, respond to chats and add the most common customer questions to the product page.
Based on all we have gone through since March, we were encouraged to make a number of decisions for improvement:
- Regarding logistics, we are evaluating different options to outsource the preparation of orders, in order to adapt it better to growth and especially to periods of peak demand.
- We have incorporated an international express service with UPS, since many customers and employees had requested this from us.
In our shop in Alicante, there are some guidelines that the personnel and customers must comply with to guarantee the safety and health of all, which are the following:
- Maximum of 4 people in the shop at one time.
- Application of hydroalcoholic gel at the entrance, providing also face masks for whoever comes without them.
- In principle, clothes are not touched, and when customers wish to try something on, they are kindly requested to tell Alicia or Sara, our wonderful store managers, who will show them the proper size.
- Garments that are tried on or handled are disinfected on a 60-degree vertical plate.
- All this information is clearly indicated at the entrance, but when customers enter everything is explained to them personally.
We do not know when we will have a vaccine or if an effective medicine will become available in the coming months. The truth is that, for months now, we have made many more decisions keeping our brand values in mind, something that our employees, customers and suppliers have highly valued.
Our website continues to record record numbers, and our shop in Alicante has done well considering the lack of tourism from outside Spain. We have hard months ahead of us which will be even more so in this season, so all we can do is keep working and ask everyone who reads this to act responsibly. From Trendsplant we continue to repeat what we said months ago echoing the #masks4all campaign: “Your mask protects me; my mask protects you”.