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.

5 Packaging Insert Ideas for Ecommerce

You have order fulfillment down to a science and have hired a 3PL to handle storing, picking, packing and shipping your products. But your customer’s journey doesn’t end with order fulfillment. If you’re looking for a way to maximize your buyers’ unboxing experiences while driving customer loyalty and sales, we have a suggestion: packaging inserts.

THE BENEFITS OF PACKAGING INSERTS

Unboxing doesn’t have to be the end of the road in your customers’ purchase process. Think of it as the start of a different journey. In fact, selling to an existing customer is a lot easier than selling to a new one.

Let’s look at some customer retention statistics:

  • The success rate of selling to an existing customer is 60-70 percent. The success rate of selling to a new customer is 5-20 percent.
  • Increasing customer retention by 5 percent can increase your profits from 25-95 percent.
  • About 80 percent of your future profits will come from just 20 percent of your existing customers.

The reason it’s easier to convert existing customers is simple: they have already purchased from you, which makes them easier to retarget in your remarketing efforts. A well-targeted packaging insert will not only make customers feel special, it will increase brand loyalty too. There are many ways you can incorporate them into your customers’ unpackaging experiences.

PACKAGING INSERT IDEAS

Thank you notes: Add personalized thank-you notes that will make an impression with your customers. Don't say “Thank you for your order” which can make your customers feel like statistics. Show your customers you value their support rather than their business. Opt for "Thanks for choosing us" instead.

Promo codes: Give your existing customers a reason to make another purchase by including a promo code with an exclusive discount as an incentive. Don't forget to track and measure your ROI. Create campaign-specific promo codes to measure how many people redeem the code and how much they spend on each transaction.

Offers: Offer free shipping on their next order. Everyone loves free shipping, especially if it’s exclusive to them. Not only will this offer incentivize your customers, it’s also an effective way to minimize buyer’s remorse. “I didn’t really need that, but I had free shipping, so…”

Feedback: Ask your customers to write a review of their purchase. Customers who write reviews tend to develop a loyalty to that business because it gives them a voice in the online purchasing process. The easiest way to get customers to review your product? Just ask.

Free samples: Product samples are technically packaging inserts, so consider adding a free gift along with purchases. Your customers will be delighted at the idea of getting something unexpected for free. It’s the principle of reciprocity in marketing. When you offer your customers something helpful for free, they will feel indebted to you.

Packaging inserts can improve your brand perception and boost your marketing reach. They are also a cost-effective way to drive customer loyalty and sales. Personalize them, and you’ll be on your way to maximizing your buyers’ unboxing experiences.

6 DIY Ecommerce Product Photography Tips

The main function of product pages is to give users the information they need to make purchasing decisions. There is lots of information you can add to product pages to make them more useful to potential customers. And if you have an online store, you know that the images on your product pages matter to customers – a lot.

According to a recent survey by Salsify Today, shoppers expect at least six images and two videos for each product they view online. But quantity is not the only important factor. Consumers also cited poor quality images as one of the top reasons for leaving a product page.

Since the amount of product images and their quality directly impacts conversions, your product photography should be a crucial component of your ecommerce strategy. Luckily, getting quality product images on your site doesn’t mean you have to blow your budget on a professional photographer. In fact, you can capture amazing product shots using your iPhone or Android phone. Here are our six favorite DIY ecommerce product photography tips:

1. Maintain Brand Consistency    

Create a brand image and stick to it. No product photo should appear like it belongs somewhere else. A consistent look helps your customers cultivate trust in your business, which leads to increased loyalty and higher conversions. To stay consistent:

  • Standardize your image sizes, style and product positioning
  • Use the same filters and retouching techniques for a consistent style
  • Keep shadows uniform
  • Establish a process for creating new images that's easy to repeat

2. Use a White Background

Ever wonder why so many ecommerce sites shoot their products against plain, white backgrounds? For one, it makes products stand out by minimizing distractions. It also helps create a consistent feel that’s easy to reproduce.

If you’re shooting a white product on a white background, Pixelz recommends making sure your background is properly lit to create separation and include floor shadows so your products don't look like they're floating.

3. Opt for Natural Lighting

Great lighting makes products pop—and you don’t need professional equipment to achieve it. While shooting outdoors has too many hard-to-control variables, setting up indoors near a large window works just as well. For best results, make sure the natural light comes into the room at a 90-degree angle to your product. If the light is too direct and harsh, try diffusing it with a sheer curtain.

4. Understand Scale and Composition

Pay attention to scale, which can be tricky. Don't shoot your products in a way that makes them look too small or too big. As a general rule of thumb, your product should occupy at least 85 percent of the image’s frame. When shooting, we recommend positioning your camera on a tripod, level with and directly facing your product.

5. Shoot from Different Angles

Shoppers want to see at least six images of a product when shopping online. Make sure you deliver. Take multiple shots from a variety of angles so your customers can get a feel for what your products looks like. The more options and choices you have, the better.

6. Pay Attention to Image Resolution

Perfect lighting, angles and composition won't matter if your images are low-resolution. Your customers should be able to click your images to properly examine each product. Use an image compression tool to reduce the file size of your images as much as possible to limit page load time – without sacrificing image quality.

Because online customers can’t physically touch your products, photos are indispensable to your ecommerce success. Make sure they are high-resolution and showcase your products from a variety of angles to maximize conversions. And remember to be consistent with your shooting style to help your DIY images look more professional.

Direct Mail: Why It’s Still Relevant

Nothing feels more archaic in the post-digital era than direct mail. But you’d be doing your ecommerce business a huge disservice if you counted it out.

The Data & Marketing Association found that customer response rates for direct mail has increased 43% year-over-year. This might come as a surprise considering actual mail volume has steady declined since 2006. Apparently, fewer pieces of mail in the postal system means that less competition is seen in customer’s mailboxes.

And the generation most receptive to direct mail marketing? Millennials.

According to a report from the United States Postal Service (USPS), 47% of millennials check their physical mailbox daily. They also spend almost twice as much time sorting and reading their mail compared to other age groups.

So if you’ve been scaling down your direct mail efforts, perhaps it’s time to ramp them up again. Here are three reasons why:

Direct Mail Is Flexible    

Small budget? Try using postcards to keep costs down. Small companies can also include free samples. According to the Sampling Effectiveness Advisors, most consumers say they are more likely to buy a product after trying it. Coupons are also an effective way to recruit new customers. Overall, direct mail works for companies of all sizes and all budgets.

Direct Mail Feels Individualized

According to the USPS, as many as 55% of people are eager to read their mail. Seeing their name on a parcel only enhances the experience, which ultimately leads to more sales. If you’re going the direct mail route, we highly recommend personalizing your parcels.

Direct Mail Is (Perceived as) Trustworthy

According to the USPS, 82% of millennials view messages printed on paper as more trustworthy than digital ones. In fact, it’s believed consumers trust direct mail over email because of the unique way that paper-based advertising connects with the parts of the brain that influence how people feel and remember things. For example, a study by Canada Post found that direct mail marketing “requires 21% less cognitive effort to process” and “elicits a much higher brand recall” compared to digital media.

Another reason why you should use direct mail? Consider this: 50% of all email sent on a given day are spam. With consumers’ digital inboxes flooded with junk, a physical message feels like a welcome reprieve.

So while it may be tempting to focus your efforts entirely on online marketing, don’t neglect direct mail; it has earned a place at the omnichannel marketing table. Not sure where to start? Follow these direct marketing tips to maximize your return on investment.

Ecommerce Return Policy Checklist

Returns. They eat away at your profit margins and eviscerate your conversion rates. According to Statista, return deliveries will cost online retailers more than $500 billion by 2020. And that doesn’t factor in restocking expenses or inventory losses.

But did you know a well-executed ecommerce return policy can actually drive sales and strengthen customer loyalty? That’s because paying attention to your customers’ after-buying experience pays off. According to comScore, 63% of consumers say they actually take the time to read a return policy before deciding whether or not to make a purchase at an online store.

If customers are taking the time to read your return policy, make sure it lives up to the hype. Use our easy to follow return policy checklist to craft one that is detailed and jargon-free:

1. USE PLAIN LANGUAGE

Plain language is communication your audience can understand the first time they read or hear it. When writing your return policy, use:

  • “You” and other pronouns
  • Active voice
  • Short sentences
  • Common, everyday words
  • Easy-to-read design features (like itemized lists and short paragraphs)

2. SPECIFY A TIMEFRAME FOR RETURNS

Let your customers know how long they have to return a product. Keep in mind that a longer return period increases confidence in your customers and the likelihood of a sale.

3. SET CONDITIONS FOR RETURNS

Because of the intangible nature of online shopping, ecommerce stores get more returns than brick-and-mortars. Some common reasons for returns include:

  • A product that was damaged in shipping, or the wrong item was shipped
  • A customer purchased the wrong thing
  • Gift returns or exchanges
  • The product didn’t match the description

But there are also customers who engage in “wardrobing.” That’s when someone buys an item, uses it, and then attempts to return it for a full refund.

Protect yourself from wardrobers by clearly defining the condition a product must be in before a return can be processed. It’s the easiest way to avoid getting stuck with merchandise you can’t restock.

4. CREDIT OR REFUND?

This is a biggie. Let your customers know if you offer full refunds or just in-store credit.

We recommend offering your customers full refunds on returned merchandise that meets your conditions for returns. Shoppers prefer having options for returning products. If you only offer in-store credit, you risk losing a sale before your customers even commit.

5. SHOW FEES & SHIPPING COSTS

Will your customer have to pay for shipping if they return an item? Will they be charged a restocking fee? Be upfront about what it will cost customers to return your products, or you’ll face consumer backlash later.

6. THINK INTERNATIONALLY

Do you have a return policy for international orders? Make sure to provide clear instructions on where returns should be shipped, and how items will be refunded, including shipping fees for preference-based returns. Will refund amounts be credited in the same currency and using the same exchange rate as the original tender?

If you are an international ecommerce selling globally, make sure to include these details.

7. MAKE IT VISIBLE

Your policy won’t matter if your customers can’t find it. Feature a direct link to your return policy on the footer your ecommerce homepage, or make it a part of your checkout process.

We also recommend including a printed copy of your return policy inside every package you ship and inside your email confirmation to customers.

When it comes to your ecommerce return policy, don’t skimp on the details or fill it with legalese. Be upfront with your customers about how you handle returns. You’ll save yourself headaches down the line and, if you offer a generous return policy, be rewarded with more sales.

3 Best Practices to Better Your BOPIS Retail Strategy

Thanks to fierce competition in the retail world, consumers have more and more options when it comes to shopping. And whether it’s online, mobile or in-store, both ecommerce and brick-and-mortar retailers have diligently stepped up their games to keep up with new demands.

One option still gaining popularity is buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS). According to a report by Adobe Analytics, BOPIS increased 50 percent over the 2018 holiday season. But effective BOPIS retail strategies have proved somewhat challenging for retailers. What makes click-and-collect so tricky to execute?

There are several components that can trip up a BOPIS strategy, including inventory inaccuracies, communication, and execution.

However, there are best practices you can use to better your BOPIS retail strategy and improve the consistency of your service offering.

TRACK YOUR INVENTORY (ACCURATELY)

Today’s fulfillment options mean many moving parts for omnichannel retailers. Things can get especially tricky when online customers shop for products specifically marked as available for BOPIS. Imagine, for example, two customers add the same item to their online cart, but your store only has one of those items in stock. Come checkout, one of those shoppers won’t be happy – you’ll likely lose a sale, and possibly a customer.

This is why as a retailer, you need to implement real-time cross-channel inventory tracking and order fulfillment to keep your inventory as up to date as possible.

Inventory that isn't carefully tracked and managed can create big problems down the road. Make sure to incorporate best practices into your day-to-day inventory management. It is crucial to the success of your BOPIS retail strategy.

SWEAT THE DETAILS

If not everything you sell online is available for BOPIS, be clear about it from the get-go.

Enable your online customers to set their store location and add a filter that gives them the ability to shop for products that are only available for in-store pickup. Be sure to promote your filter at the top of your product pages; you want shoppers to know if they can pick up their orders in-store before they begin shopping.

Once your customer places a BOPIS order, communication is key. Send an immediate confirmation and include order details, clear directions on where to pick up in-store, and what forms of identification are needed.

NAIL YOUR PICK-UP PROCESS

Are you placing your BOPIS pickup points at the back of your store to seduce customers into buying more stuff? Don’t. Instead, make it easy for your customers to retrieve their orders by placing your pickup location at the front of your store. Use clear signage or even consider curbside service to designated parking spaces. Remember, your customers don’t want to feel manipulated; they chose your BOPIS service because they want a quick and convenient online shopping experience.

Another important factor in the pick-up process is to make sure your staff has the information they need to make your customers' BOPIS experience a good one. They should be able to retrieve orders quickly and know how to handle potential problems such as returns. Or consider having dedicated staff specifically for your BOPIS orders. Either way, proper staff training will help ensure a successful BOPIS strategy.

Do you even need a BOPIS strategy? What if it’s just a fad?

According to a Signifyd survey, millennials' shopping preferences are what’s driving the need for BOPIS. And despite its implementation challenges, BOPIS is here to stay. If you’re a retailer wanting to make the most of this shopping experience, make sure you understand and follow BOPIS best practices.