Welcome to the Fulfillment Works Blog

At Fulfillment Works, our experience across multiple industries has allowed us to gain valuable insights into the needs of our customers. We pride ourselves on delivering proven solutions for both B2C and B2B clients. This blog allows us to share best practices in logistics and ecommerce. Read on to learn tips for ecommerce sites, fulfillment solutions, and even more about Fulfillment Works. Check back often, or subscribe to our feed for the latest articles.

Part 1: How to Set up an Ecommerce Sweepstakes

Sweepstakes can help to increase email signups, website traffic, social media engagement and sales for ecommerce websites. Sweepstakes are compelling because no purchase is needed to enter and the winners are selected entirely randomly. Ultimately, it’s easy for users to enter without investing time or resources to do so.

However, as easy as they are for participants, sweepstakes can be intimidating for the brands putting them on. In fact, many ecommerce sites don’t run sweepstakes because they’re not sure how to properly do so. Here are some basics of how to set up an ecommerce sweepstakes:

Planning: Start with the basic what, where and when

  • What will your sweepstakes prize be? It should be something desirable and of value, but still profitable for you. Will the buzz, engagement, lead-generation, and traffic you drive be worth more than the prize? Is the prize something your target audiences want and would be willing to enter to win, as well as to share with people they know? If your products are low cost, consider bundling a few together into an “exclusive prize pack” to make the sweepstakes prize appealing. Also, depending on what you give away, you may want to include multiple ecommerce sweepstakes winners; in this scenario participants’ odds of winning increase and so they might be more enthusiastic about entering. Once you know what you want to give away, you can determine what to call your sweepstakes and what kinds of images and design direction you will need to promote it. For a sweepstakes to succeed, the prize, name and promotion should be eye-catching and tailored to your target audience.
  • Where will you promote the sweepstakes? If your goal is to increase prospecting with the sweepstakes, then you’ll want to advertise it on your social media channels based on audience selects and targeting. If you want to increase lifetime value of existing customers and drive more brand loyalty (offering a sweepstakes prize pack including all your newest products, for example) then you will want to use email marketing, calls to action on your website, and organic social media posts to your existing audience. If your sweepstakes is for existing and new customers both, then you can use a combination of all of these to promote it.
  • When will you run the sweepstakes? This depends on your goals. Will it be seasonal and tied to a holiday or is it going to be run during a slow time of your sales’ year to drum up interest and engagement? In addition to time of year, you should also consider for how long you will run the sweepstakes (about one month is common; but you may want to experiment with that works for you and your audience). Finally, depending on the value of the prize, you could run ecommerce sweepstakes regularly (small prizes) or only once or twice per year (for larger grand prizes).

Set Up Your Ecommerce Sweepstakes: Design great creative to inspire action

Here is what you'll need:

  • A creative sweepstakes name
  • Sweepstakes landing page/microsite (Be sure to make entry as easy as possible--don’t require more information than you need to enter the participant and to market to them in the future)
  • Great images of your the prizes to use on social media and as calls to action throughout your website and to drive awareness and traffic for the sweepstakes
  • Email marketing creative focused on the sweepstakes
  • “Last chance” or “countdown” creative to inspire action as your sweepstakes nears its end

Rules and Regulations:

Laws about giveaways differ from state to state. It’s very important that your sweepstakes rules are complete and thorough and that your sweepstakes adheres to any applicable laws. We recommend you consult with your legal team or counsel when setting up your rules. The rules should be linked to and readily present in all your sweepstakes materials. A few sweepstakes rules you should be aware of when setting up an ecommerce sweepstakes are:

  • Beginning and end dates
  • Value of prize(s) and odds of winning
  • Restrictions for entrants (geographies, employee restrictions, etc.)
  • How you will use contact information in the future (for marketing purposes) and if it will be shared with any other parties
  • And more--so be sure to consult with your legal counsel

To protect your business, your legal counsel should review all your rules and the parameters of your sweepstakes before you get started. Now that you’ve learned how to set up an ecommerce sweepstakes, come back next week for Part 2 for social media specific considerations.

The Importance of Customer Retention in Ecommerce

The importance of customer retention in ecommerce is widely talked about, but are you making it the priority you should? If you know that the cost of new customer acquisition is far higher than the cost to retain existing customers, why not implement a concerted retention strategy?

Your ecommerce business’s customer retention is directly impacted by not only your product value, but also your adherence to best practices for experience and satisfaction. Here are three tips for customer retention in ecommerce:

  • Customer Rewards Based on Longevity and Volume: Nothing creates the opportunity for long-term, repeat buying better than offering ongoing rewards (via points earned, volume discounts, status tiers, etc.). Customer retention rewards can be based on past purchases, subscription discounts, amount purchased, buyer “anniversaries,” and existing-customer promotions. By incentivizing purchases from business you’ve already “won” you remove the unpredictability of prospecting and focus on adding value for reliable buyers.
  • Gratitude Perks: The value and importance of ecommerce customer retention you place for your business will be most tangibly demonstrated to customers when you pass it on in acts of gratitude. You can send unique and innovative emailed thanks even to first-time buyers to help gain their loyalty. In addition, depending on your product make up you may want to make it standard practice to extend birthday acknowledgement in email with an offer or discount, first purchase “anniversary” acknowledgement, bonuses for friend referrals, free samples, and other thank you gifts and perks. Even order reminders (e.g., your 30-day supply runs out soon, reorder before it’s too late) can be a welcome service perk for today’s busy consumer. Appreciation and acknowledgment are surefire ways to make buyers feel important and valued and help retain them long term.
  • Online Tools & Services: The better your website experience and the easier you make it for customers to find what they’re looking for, to reach a support representative, or to self-serve for common tasks, the more likely they will be loyal to your brand. What separates poor user experience from great experience are the steps and processes (seamless or difficult) that brands make common tasks like online return requests and processing, finding and reviewing account information, making edits to recurring deliveries, etc. The easier these things are for your users the more likely they will keep coming back and buying. Maintaining a positive image in ecommerce is key.

The 80-20 rule of thumb applies to ecommerce retention just as much as any other industry. If the vast majority of your sales will come from only 20% of buyers, catering to those buyers is essential to retaining them. With the right offers and service, your ecommerce customer retention will increase, which will improve your ROI and allow for greater forecasting accuracy.

6 Top Content Ideas for Ecommerce Websites

When it comes to increasing online sales, you’ve likely heard and read a lot of recommendations about website user experience and how more content can help your website. But what kinds of content will help improve your visitors’ engagement and increase your bottom line? Here are some content ideas for ecommerce websites we’ve seen work for our clients.

1. Video

The number one content idea for your ecommerce websites to increase sales is to demonstrate your products with video. According to data from Think with Google, “more than half of consumers say online video has helped them decide which specific brand or product to buy.” Video can be leveraged for 360-degree views of products or to show how the product works and how to use it. Time lapse videos can show the results from your product over time. No matter what you sell, video is essential for your ecommerce website strategy.

2. Reviews

Just like word of mouth recommendations, product reviews add legitimacy and encouragement to prospective buyers, dispelling concerns and validating they are making a good purchasing decision. Given that there are innumerable review software and platform options, here are some of the top features you should look for:

  • Email reminders to buyers to leave a review after they have received the product
  • Verified buyer designations
  • Options to incentive reviews
  •  Integrations for Google Merchant Center, to show reviews in Google search, and to connect to your other systems (shopping cart, CRM, social media pages, etc.)
  • The ability for reviewers to include not just text, but also images or video

Use these tips to encourage customers to submit more user generated content.

3. Detailed Product Information

Often, content on ecommerce sites is too scant when it comes to basic details like dimensions, materials and ingredients. One of the best content ideas to increase conversions on your ecommerce website is to ensure you feature pertinent product information on your product pages. In addition, for products that have a range of extensions, parts and accessories, be sure to prominently feature those add-on options in close proximity to the product details in order to increase the chance of a cross-sell.

5. Charts and Tools

One very strategic ecommerce content idea is to guide website visitors on how to choose the best product for them with comparisons and tools. Outlines of product features in visual graphics and interactive configuration tools can streamline your sales process by outlining all the options and considerations buyers need to make to select the product that’s right for them, leading them right into a final decision and purchase.

6. Customer Support

As much as customers love the convenience of shopping online, they still have questions and want some of the same kinds of service available in a traditional retail space. That’s why FAQs, Live Chat, Virtual Try-On (or use of Augmented Reality features) and other support offerings are critical ideas for ecommerce website content. Think about your product catalog and what kind of support your visitors are most likely to need to create a friction-free online buying experience. Next time you hear about the importance of content for ecommerce website success, you’ll be prepared with the knowledge of the content types that will compel action and improve your conversion rate.

4 Benefits of Customer Satisfaction Surveys

How much do you know about your buyers and what they think about your products and your website? If you could know more, would that be valuable for your brand? Ecommerce experiences lend themselves seamlessly to collecting information from your visitors that can be used to improve your website, products, marketing and sales.

Here are some of the benefits of customer satisfaction surveys:

1. Product Improvements and Expansion

Many ecommerce sites rely heavily on reviews to collect insights into what consumers think about their products. The benefit of customer satisfaction surveys is that they are guided vs. open-ended, so you can elicit more exacting details from your customers.

With a survey you can pinpoint specific areas you want to learn about and formulate those into questions to expand your product line or improve current products. For example, what if you are considering offering new colors or flavors of certain products? You can include questions about the popularity of those new options in your survey. Or, what if you would like to expand an existing product line to include offerings for other demographics (e.g., children)? You can survey customers on whether they would also be interested in purchasing the product for their children.

Surveys give you the ability to leverage website visitors and customers for free or low-cost (you can offer incentives for people to participate) product research and development.

2. Website Upgrades

Your website features and offerings can also benefit from customer satisfaction surveys. Imagine you want to design and launch a new product-oriented blog. You have some options:

1. You can invest in creating the new blog, hire writers, deploy it on the website and then track results to see what your website visitors think.

2. You can survey your website visitors about your blog idea, confirm they are interested and dig deeper into the kinds of topics they would be interested in reading about before you invest any time, money or other resources into creating the blog.

While not necessarily a perfect science, surveys are a great opportunity to collect feedback on website ideas you have before you act.

3. Conversion Rate Optimization

Since surveys are completely customizable, why not use them to get to the heart of the matter and learn about your audience’s behaviors directly? What inspires them to buy and what would get them to buy more--or sooner? The top benefit of customer satisfaction surveys is learning what motivates your buyers to choose your brand and products and to use the data to increase conversions.

Following are some ideas of questions than can help in this vein (these should we multiple choice questions with answer options, including “other” with open comment space):

What makes you most interested to buy XYZ product?
When do you think you are likely to buy XYZ product?
Would any of the following (offers, incentives, etc.) make you buy XYZ product today?
What are your top concerns when comparing options before purchasing XYZ product?

4. Demographic Data

Many brands invest a significant amount of resources into market research in order to help determine the best ways to advertise and market their products. Customer satisfaction surveys can benefit your brand by allowing you to collect key demographic data, which can help you construct a blueprint of your target audience. You can better tailor the messaging on your website and in your marketing with those demographic details. The only flaw in relying on this data is it doesn’t help with expansion into new markets. However, if you are confident in the targeting of your current buyers and you just want to increase overall marketshare among them, then a survey is a great way to pinpoint exactly who your customers are.

Customer satisfaction surveys can benefit your ecommerce company in a range of ways and are relatively easy to deploy via email marketing or with software on your website. Given their ease of dissemination, you can create numerous surveys over time and offer them to different visitors and buyers (based on behavior or randomly) to increase ROI from your website.

3 Uses for AI in Ecommerce

Do you see or hear the term “AI” and instantly want to bury your head in the sand? If you run an ecommerce business, artificial intelligence (AI) is not something you should be ignoring. And there are plenty of simple ways to incorporate AI in ecommerce.

Let’s start with savings, because they are quite significant. According to TotalRetail, AI could save retailers as much as $340 billion annually by 2022, with 80 percent of those savings coming from AI-enabled efficiencies in supply chains and returns processes.

And retailers are paying attention. A Capgemini Research study found the global annual amount spent on AI by retailers is expected to surpass $7.3 billion by 2022.

But which AI technologies would your ecommerce business benefit the most from? Here are three you shouldn’t ignore:

1. Personalization

What is the most important element when it comes to increasing online sales? Personalization. When it comes to benefits, however, those "similar products" AI-driven suggestions barely scratch the surface.

AI personalization software learns about ecommerce shoppers based on their search and purchase history, buyer demographic and previous transactions. This enables effective product recommendations like "You may also like."

Upselling is a serious business. When Amazon launched the "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought" upsell in 2006, their sales increased by 35%.

In a brick-and-mortar store, every customer sees the same products. As on an online retailer, you have the advantage of showing shoppers specific products relevant to them, which has been proven to increase sales. Make sure your ecommerce business has the AI tools to properly personalize your customer experience.

2. Predictive Marketing

Imagine if you could use your customers’ current and historical data to predict future purchases. That’s precisely what predictive marketing does. AI makes it possible by identifying correlations between your customers’ past purchasing behaviors.

For example, running your customer data through a predictive model can help guide your marketing strategy by anticipating their behavior and:

  • Pinpointing unhappy customers you’re on the verge of losing
  • Identifying happy customers who may be ready to buy

Predictive marketing can save you money by allowing you to focus on quality leads versus those with no clear intention to buy. AI, or machine learning, makes this possible.

3. Customer Service

While AI can’t completely replace people when it comes to resolving complex problems, it can still play a key role in customer service. Take chatbots, for instance.

Chatbots come in two types: simple and AI-focused. While simple chatbots can spot keywords in customers’ questions and respond with pre-determined answers, AI-focused chatbots can perform more sophisticated actions. They do that by using natural language processing and machine learning to mimic human conversation that sounds just like real people.

Ways chatbots can be helpful for ecommerce businesses include:

  • Added support during busy times of the year, such as holidays
  • To engage customers with a welcome message on your website
  • To answer easy questions and free up customer service staff for escalated issues

In fact, according to a 2016 McKinsey report, 29 percent of what customer service representatives do could potentially be automated. Chatbots can help your business increase sales while saving time and money.

Personalization, predictive marketing and customer service are just three areas with applications for AI in ecommerce. Ecommerce businesses can use AI for everything from mining social media data to optimizing logistics. It all depends on your organizational needs.

If you’re not using AI for your ecommerce business yet, now is as good a time as any to familiarize yourself with the technology. Identify the problems you’d like to tackle and consider what value AI could bring to the table. Start small and assess your new AI’s value before broadening its capabilities.

There is plenty of potential for AI in ecommerce. Take advantage of the technology and consider some of these simple ways you can incorporate AI in your ecommerce business.