COVID-19: Whirli is operating at normal service levels

This is an update to my previous post at the start of the COVID lockdown which said that Whirli was operating on reduced service levels. Read here.

It is bittersweet to celebrate our country getting over the peak of the health crisis and further easing of restrictions on the 4th of July. The past few months have had a heavy toll on the nation, with tragic losses of life and devastating economic impact, and the next few months (or years) still look extremely uncertain.

Yet, I wanted to take this moment to thank all our subscribers, our partners, and our staff. Service levels have now returned to normal – that means orders are dispatched within a day, returns are processed within a day, Live Chat is back, and other customer service enquires are dealt with within a day.

Please note, we will still be conservative on estimated delivery dates as we recognise that couriers might still be experiencing occasional delays in certain areas. We thus expect subscribers to typically receive their parcels ahead of the estimated delivery date provided on checkout.

Thank you

Firstly, a massive ‘thank you’ to all our subscribers for your patience over the last few months. As a business we faced huge challenges. Our suppliers were operating with reduced capacity, some had closed temporarily, and unfortunately some also closed permanently. The delivery companies operated with unprecedented levels of demand, despite seeing higher levels of staff sickness. And we too, experienced higher than normal staff absences combined with higher rates of orders and customer enquiries.

As a result, we were unable to operate to our usually high standard at all times and we did not always get everything right but having such a wonderful subscriber base and community has made all the difference for us.

Thank you for sending in notes of gratitude, for the encouragements, and the occasional chocolate and sweet delights. Thank you for being so understanding and patient with us, as orders took longer than usual to reach you or we took longer to respond to your service enquiries.

Proud moments

That said, the last few weeks have given us a lot to be proud of as an organisation and community:

  • Due to increased demand for our service, we delivered and processed over 50% more orders and returns than we usually do – helping all our subscribers access and share toys to entertain and educate their children.
  • We achieved this without compromising our staff’s well-being; ensuring full sick pay, safe distance working in the warehouse, and adequate supplies of protective clothing and disinfectant. We also hired where we could to help those who are looking for jobs in this climate.
  • We worked closely with suppliers to reduce any impact of supply disruption, and were also mindful and supportive to their own business and personal challenges.
  • We on-boarded new educational brands like Learning Resources and BrainBox.
  • We worked with our courier partners to ensure their staff’s safety and minimise delivery delays.
  • We kept our home collection fees low, far below market rate, so that subscribers could take advantage of this option whilst they stayed safe at home.
  • We also introduced label-less home collections (no need for printing!) to make returns even more convenient.

A small but mighty business

We may be a small business but we have overcome some huge challenges. Underneath these broad accomplishments are many stories of individual achievements with colleagues going above and beyond. It’s been extremely inspiring to observe and I’d like to emphasise 2 points to my colleagues and our subscribers:

  1. Our values only matter when we adhere to them at moments of maximum risk – it is times like these, when we stand by our principles and ways of working in the face of unprecedented challenges, that really demonstrate who we are as an organisation and what we stand for.
  2. It’s important to start like how we mean to go on – we are a small and young company with only 24 staff in total, with not much by way of vast resources or a network that larger companies can draw from and rely upon. I hope that Whirli continues to grow to a significant venture, and I hope that we never see an event like this again in our lifetimes – but if we do, we must not forget what we managed to achieve together, when we were small and had so little.

Continuing to strengthen our business

As we move forward there is a lot to be excited about. In a few weeks, we’ll be relaunching our website – this will provide a significantly improved experience, with faster page load speeds, better navigation, and better native experience on mobile phones. Shortly after, we’ll be working on new features to help customers reserve out of stock toys, and also re-engage with new suppliers to add new toys to our range. We will continue our investments in improving the service offering and the Whirli experience for all our subscribers.

We also cannot be complacent. Our service and operations need to evolve and adapt alongside the changing consumer behaviour and economic outlook, thereby ensuring we can continue to serve subscribers in a sustainable manner. We will soon announce a few small changes to help make our business stronger, more efficient and more sustainable. This includes tackling an increase in subscribers who have a token ‘overdraft’, and our heavily subsidised delivery and collection costs. These are small changes for individual subscribers, but make a big difference overall to our sharing economy community and every subscriber’s experience. I hope that you will all be there to continue supporting us to the full, as we have been here in the last few months to support you.

As usual, we are always available to speak with you regarding any questions, concerns, or help you might need. Get in touch with my team here, and as usual if you want to speak to me directly you can always ask my team to pass you on to me.

Best wishes,
Nigel Phan
Founder and Managing Director

Share this article

author

Nigel

Founder