The current situation with the coronavirus brings with it quite a number of challenges for the stationery & paper industry because shops need to remain closed for the time being and consumers have been advised to stay at home as much as possible. So how are businesses dealing with the circumstances? We asked Hanna Dohmeyer what steps edding has taken to cope with the crisis. She works as International Strategic Communication Manager within International Brand Management for edding International GmbH. The company offers a wide range of products in different business areas: writing and marking, printing, cosmetics, innovative technologies and visual communication.
Insights-X: The coronavirus crisis is hitting manufacturers and retailers hard. What measures has edding taken to make the best of the situation?
Hanna Dohmeyer: Fortunately, we had already introduced lots of new provisions on flexible working from home into our business at an earlier stage, which are now helping us to deal with the situation. So, amongst other things, we are using video conferencing to keep the dialogue going with each other or simply to enjoy a coffee break together. In addition, we have adjusted our external communications strategy. We are helping to support retailers with their online measures and make digital content available for their activities.
edding is very active on social media in particular.
How are you using the channels during the isolation period?
H. D.: People are spending a lot of time at home at the moment, having to organise themselves differently and, in many cases, are facing new challenges. In the field of creativity, we want to be there for our community and offer them and their families creative ideas for how they can structure their time at home. In order to do so, we offer lots of craft ideas for all age groups and a range of templates and colouring pictures that children can occupy themselves with while the parents are at work in the home office.
Do you get the impression that your followers are particularly grateful for the craft ideas?
H. D.: It’s more than a feeling – we get confirmation from our followers each day. At the moment we are receiving very positive feedback on our "craft ideas for kids" activities. Lots of creative individuals were especially thankful for our monster craft idea. Kids can colour in the practical templates and, together with their parents, create a mobile that they can hang up in front of the window. One user made her own version of the project straight away and sent us a photo of her window with the following commentary: "Done. My children’s explanation: 'So you can see that the coronavirus is flying around outside'."
You also use the Shopping function in your Instagram and Facebook posts. How useful is this function to edding for generating revenue? Has there been an increase in the number of your customers shopping through social media since the coronavirus crisis started?
H. D.: The Shopping function on Instagram and Facebook offers many benefits for us and for our customers. Firstly, we frequently receive questions about the products that are used in our creative projects. People ask about the specific product name or the product attributes and, of course, about availability in the shops too. We can now direct end consumers to the Shopping tag that we put in our posts. They see the exact product name and can ask for the product in store – but also have the option of going directly to one of our online retail partners via the link. We are not yet in the position to comment on the effect that the coronavirus crisis is having on revenue.
Besides the classic feeds, you regularly publish Stories. What advantages do you see in the Story function?
H. D.: Stories offer us the chance to communicate with end consumers in an even more interactive way. Thanks to the question and poll stickers that Instagram offers, we have a high level of exchange with the community and get lots of feedback, e.g. on ideas for new products or colours they would like to see added to our existing range. Here, we find the integration of retail partners, and the option to link to their websites, to be very practical.
Do you already have other ideas up your sleeve about how to help your customers alleviate boredom?
H. D.: We have a large pool of other creative ideas for crafting with kids and will also assist people who don’t have any children at home, but who maybe want to tackle the topics of hand lettering, sketch notes or "how do I work in a home office", with high-quality and inspiring content.
Do you have any tips for manufacturers and retailers about how they can use social media channels in times of crisis?
H. D.: At this point in time, it is important to offer people help and solutions. Whether those are in the form of creative ideas, a modified range, or new service options, differs from business to business. It is important not just to continue on as before but instead to pay attention to exactly what it is that helps each target group and what social media activities can be used to provide added value.
Many of our brick-and-mortar retailers have taken the initiative and opened temporary online shops. They have the opportunity on Facebook to address their target audience, who up until that point been have been in-store customers, and to react to their requests for products. Bundles of products that can be marketed as a creative set offer additional value to the end consumer who is on the search for a new creative project.
Regardless of the current situation, everyone who operates a social media channel should have an ear open to their community and react promptly to feedback. Communication has benefits for both sides and will be thoroughly appreciated by consumers. As in-person exchanges are not possible at the moment, or only in a limited way, this is the communication channel that should be particularly in focus at the moment.
Many thanks for the fascinating interview, Ms Dohmeyer.