How to translate the in-store purchasing experience to home deliveries

How to cope with the financial crisis—and even emerge from it stronger

Bank Hapoalim (photo credit: AVIV GOTTLIEB)
Bank Hapoalim
(photo credit: AVIV GOTTLIEB)
 Morris Munier
We Went from Sharing Platters to Individual Packages
“My partner Refael Taragan and I set up the business in 2002, with a focus on preparing and delivering sharing platters for events and social and corporate gatherings. We specialize in ‘finger food’—mini-sandwiches, pastries, quiches and even desserts such as petit fours, to be served in the middle of the table or as part of a buffet. We employed 80 people, and business was good. When the first lockdown started, we received ‘critical business’ certification as part of the food industry, but work was reduced to zero because there were no events or festivities, and company employees were working from home.
“I furloughed my employees and eventually we were left with only Refael, my accountant and I. We did a quick analysis of the situation and decided to transition toward packaged meals for individuals or couples, and we made sure they were as visually appealing and carefully presented as possible. We received wonderful feedback, and orders started to come in from owners of private jets who buy a lot of food for their flights, from companies who were holding virtual meetings or conferences and send the packages to their employees’ homes, and from hotel chains who buy individual meals from us and serve them as room service to their customers.
“At present, we employee 40 workers, but only 15 of them are from our permanent staff and the rest are from a manpower agency. Why? Because the younger workers who are receiving furlough pay wanted to work ‘off the books’ and that’s not something we were interested in doing. Regardless, we began to outsource a lot of things such as deliveries, IT and marketing. We recently moved to a new, 1000 m2 facility in Rishon LeZion with a high-quality shop on-site that’s due to open in March. The shop is an innovation for us, because up until now our interaction with customers was via our longstanding website and not face to face. Despite the fact that last year our turnover was 50% lower than usual overall, we finished the year strongly. We’re even glad this year happened in a way, because it taught us a lot about streamlining, changing direction and branching out into new areas that the business will continue to benefit from in the years to come.
The writer is a co-owner of “Munier Dairy Catering and Event Platters”. 7 Sapir St, Rishon LeZion. Tel: 050-2662285
Bracha Pachter
Personal Deliveries Save Time and Money
“Our store for women’s undergarments is among the first of its kind in Israel—my grandmother set it up in 1932 in the Carmel Market, then my parents took it into their hands and moved to the current location in Nahalat Binyamin St. Then I came along—I was a special education teacher at the time, 30 years ago, and I came in to replace my mother for a week because she was sick, and I stayed on until today. Before COVID-19, there were two women who worked here, one of them the seamstress, but then I furloughed them and stayed here in the store by myself. That was the point when Shlomo, my husband, and I began to organize a home delivery service for our customers—whether personally or through the post.
“I’m very frustrated that they’re refusing to provide us with a ‘vital business’ certification, because we’re vital in the medical industry. I make prostheses for women who have had to undergo mastectomies and require very specific adjustments. I work with all the hospitals. Just recently I received a call from a doctor at Ichilov who said, ‘come quickly, tomorrow morning I’m operating on a woman and we need to adjust the special bra that she’ll need to wear after the operation.’ In such cases, I don’t think twice—I immediately go out to meet the customer. I have written hundreds of letters to the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Economy and Home Front, and nothing has helped.
“I’m currently in the process of setting up an online store. I didn’t believe in it before, because I believe that a bra should fit the body to a very high degree of accuracy and physical comfort. But the situation is what it is—fewer direct sales and more online purchases. And besides, my customers know they can always call me for advice. 
At the same time, we’re continuing with our delivery service, which is a first in the history of our business, and our daughters often help. It saves money and at the end of the day, it also means the goods reach our customers quicker.”
The writer is the owner of “Pesia Bras and Women’s Undergarments”. 15 Nahalat Binyamin St, Tel Aviv. Tel: 050-6966943
Shlomi Lahana
High Standards in Managing Deliveries
The pandemic has brought many business owners to the realization that purchasing products via an e-commerce website can act as a lifeline for them, and may even be a change that will stick around for the long term. At the same time, it is important to remember the challenge this involves, especially when it comes to managing deliveries: customers come to your business equipped with very high expectations following online purchases from websites abroad—expectations of rapid response and delivery times. An additional challenge is how to translate the in-store purchasing to the home deliveries. The main method to perhaps convey the emotional aspect of this experience lies in the packaging, the way the item is wrapped, a personal, handwritten note that is attached to it—and maybe even a small gift from the business. With their entry into the delivery market, business owners must not forego the service and support that customers expect, including after they receive the product. All of these elements are the keys to a business owner’s success in generating loyalty, even in a world where we don’t meet the customers in person.
The writer is a strategic and marketing consultant and a lecturer in marketing at the College of Management
Sarit Ara
Adjusting to New Trends in Purchasing
The pandemic period has created new challenges and a new business landscape. 
Many business owners have begun to reinvent themselves, to think outside the box, to be dynamic and open to changes and to adapt themselves to changing market demands and changing customer and consumer demands. At the same time, they are also being called upon to act to reduce expenses and streamline their businesses.
 In the resulting situation, early and accurate preparation by the business owner and their ability to adapt themselves to new purchasing patterns and the changing needs of their customers will provide them with a significant advantage over the competition. 
For example, well-targeted and effective online marketing and advertising can turn a local business into a national one, thereby expanding its pool of customers and laying successful business and financial foundations.
The writer is the manager of the Yehud branch of Bank Hapoalim