First of all, we would like to express our sympathy to all those affected by the COVID19 situation. Another month has passed under the state of emergency, but many countries are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. In Japan, the state of emergency has been lifted, schools will reopen under special measures at the beginning of June, and life should slowly get back to "normal". Unfortunately, we cannot say the same for international travels, and therefore for the international logistic we rely on to deliver your orders. Our team is still doing its best to deliver as many countries as possible, and we now have a good "emergency situation logistic" set with UPS and DHL. Japan Post shipments have reopened for UK, Canada and France (only).
Budo practice is still partially or completely suspended in many countries, and it is rumored that summer seminars are being canceled in most countries. Unfortunately, it looks like we won't be going back to our regular practice before several months, but we've also heard of many initiatives, online and offline, that should keep us all connected during the summer! This is a good opportunity to say thank you to all the teachers who offered free online courses during the confinement. We were really positively impressed by the generosity and kindness of the community, let's continue that way!
Regarding our discount program for June, we're trying to follow up with the workshops that need the most support to stay financially afloat. At the moment, it is our Dogi workshop in Aichi, so we're offering 15% off on all Dogi until the end of June. We've also added Sashiko masks from the same workshop (see below).
Challenges we are facing now
Organizing special shifts for our team so we can keep processing your order as soon as possible, with a reduced team. This was a tough challenge, but we believe we did a great job. We announced that we would put in place a 3 business days' delay for all orders, and we managed to ship more than 90% of orders without any delay. Of course, this is mainly because we are suffering a huge drop in orders, but also because of a faultless logistic carried by our team, logistic that proved strong under the stress of the crisis!
Organizing shipments is, of course, the toughest of all challenge. Seido has a very well designed logistic that relies on Japan Post, FedEx, UPS, and DHL simultaneously, with per country and per package type/size optimizations. FedEx, which accounted for 30% of all Seido packages, has suspended all shipments from Japan. Japan Post can only deliver a few countries (France, Canada, the UK, but not the US or Australia). UPS has increased rates, and DHL, in addition to not handling packages over 120 cm, implemented a special crisis surcharge.
Each order requires more time, as we need to check each carrier rate, limitations for each country, etc.
Small orders usually shipped with Japan Post that have not been upgraded to express shipping at checkout are stored in our office.
And many countries cannot be delivered without additional fees or cannot be delivered at all.
Under these conditions, it's very hard for us to maintain free shipping on all orders without increasing our prices, which we didn't do yet. In June, we plan to keep working as we've done in the past two months. Customers can still select free shipping for all orders, but small packages will not ship before shipment reopens (this is clearly stated at checkout). We're also offering shipping upgrades for dozens of countries, which allowed us to keep 95% of usually served countries opened.
For reference, we currently have about 50 orders stored on customer requests. We have no decent solution for only 3 of them, going to Russia, China, and Turkmenistan. All other orders were stored in the customer choice.
From now on, the next challenge will be to keep the business afloat until September (we hope that orders will return to normal by then), both at Seido and in all the workshops we're working with. We have already increased our stocks to the maximum to help our workshops, so it's not something we can continue to do, but we are working on alternative solutions!
At Seido, thanks to the help of the Japanese government, we have all been able to make the sacrifices necessary to stay afloat (unfortunately, Japan has offered an aid of 100,000 yen to all the residents but offers absolutely no support to businesses). The team is still complete and we do not plan to let anyone go. We are in this situation together, and we are going to go through it together!
Although we do not yet need the help of the community, we will inform you if this changes in the coming months.
We continued to offer our handmade Seido's mask in almost the entirey of the packages we sent. But we released two new products from both our Dogi workshops: a relatively affordable ko-Sashiko mask from KuSakura's workshop., and a higher-end mask from our Aichi workshop (they need support, if you can, feel free to purchase one of their masks, or a Dogi - discounted this month).
We released our Gift Cards. This is a common move most small only businesses made the past weeks to increase their cash flow. We're ok, we're not calling our customers for help yet, but we've put this in place just in case. And since we already had such requests in the past, way before the crisis, it was a good opportunity!
We've almost finished reworking our entire emailing system. This crisis, and all the logistic difficulties it created, made us realize that as good as our communication was, it could be further improved. More information on automated emails, more automation, a little better design and a better device compatibility are the result of this work.
Simultaneously, we developed a system that allows us to bill you via a simple link that redirects you to the payment page. This means a better purchasing experience for custom-made products, the possibility to add products to an existing order, and more.
We wish we had more time to test all this, but we didn't, so we're expecting some glitches that we'll fix asap when spotted, and we are confident that all improvements easily counterbalance the few glitches that may appear.
Of course, we continued publishing our Kobudo demonstration videos from the last All Japan Kobudo (enjoy what's left, it's almost over!). And we also released a tribute to all women Budoka, a highlight we called "Women in Japanese Martial Arts".
That's all for this month. Enjoy our discounts and contents, stay safe, and see you soon on SeidoShop.com!