Ecommerce businesses have access to a humongous audience. But getting a hold of the attention and trust of customers (and keeping it) in an industry packed with competitors is nothing short of challenging. That's why focusing on the customer experience your company offers is critical for standing out from competitors and retaining customers. Below are some tips for enhancing the foundations of your customer experience efforts.
Start with staffing
As representatives of your company, customer service staff can be a defining factor in the customer experience your business is known for. Give your current staff the authority and flexibility to come up with novel solutions that satisfy customers, then grow the team by looking for candidates who can use their creativity and customer-empathy to make the most of that flexible environment.
Be proactive with information
Even if you don't have the fastest shipping or the best order incentives, the value that clear and easy-to-find information adds to the customer experience is paramount. Make sure that your shipping fees, returns policy, and other information that customers would want to know before ordering is understandable and available. The same principles should apply to your methods for data collection. Since personal and financial data privacy is so important to users, be as clear as possible with customers about the data you collect, how it is used, and how it is protected.
Make your return policy more convenient
A good return policy is a great way to emphasize your commitment to the customer experience while improving brand perception and customer trust. By easily accepting returns, you’re showing customers that you stand behind your products and that you’re willing to fix any issues that cause returns.
In addition to struggling with issues related to logistics management expertise and software, many ecommerce businesses are stymied by the physical limitations of their facilities – so much so that the demand for major warehouse improvements is on the rise.
A recent survey from Zebra Technologies Corp, which polled 1,400 warehouse IT and operations management professionals, indicated that the worldwide demand for warehouse space and inventory management solutions is increasing. According to the study, 48% of participants said that they are currently working to increase their number of warehouses - while 76% plan to increase warehouses by the year 2020. Other interesting takeaways from the survey include:
Another study from CRBE also found an increasing demand for warehouse space, mostly due to a desire to improve reverse logistics efficiency.
In ecommerce, the sale often goes to whoever has faster, cheaper, and easier shipping options – and improving your distribution network through size and efficiency is a solid strategy for maintaining a competitive edge. If you haven’t done like the respondents to Zebra Tech’s survey and imagined what your warehouse needs will be in 5 years, you may get left behind. If you’re not sure where to start or what factors to consider, we’re always happy to help.
Every order placed on an ecommerce site generates expenses for order processing, packaging, and shipping. But when an order consists of multiple units, those expenses make less of an impact on the seller because the added price margin of those additional units increases overall profit. Use these ideas to entice sellers into buying additional units – allowing you to offset shipping and fulfillment expenses and maintain competitive pricing.
Minimum Order Discounts
You can use other coupons or discounts in place of free shipping, but according to a survey from UPSPulse of the Online Shopper, 93% of online shoppers are willing to take action in order to qualify for free shipping – so it’s perhaps the most effective incentive (it’s also more directly related to the costs you’re trying to offset). Amazon.com’s famously successful “free shipping on orders more than $35” is a great example. If your ecommerce site sells lots of low-margin items, this type of strategy may work especially well because customers will have an easier time adding units without overshooting the minimum order requirement too much.
Add-ons & Upsells
Use personalization algorithms to offer additional units based on items that customers have just purchased, or purchased over time. If customer data is unavailable, the next best thing is to offer upsells based on seasonality, since seasonal items are more likely to have universal appeal. This strategy also works very well with minimum orders – adding a “suggested items” section to your shopping cart page can help customers find products they can add to reach the minimum order size.
Instead of asking your customers to add extra items to their carts, do it for them by bundling units together. Your ability to assemble product kits that appeal to customers will depend on the products you have to work with, but this is a common strategy for boosting multi-unit sales of nutritional supplements or other consumable type products.
Ecommerce companies already use a lot of resources to get users talking about their products and interacting with their website. But sometimes, the best way to influence user behavior is to sweeten the deal. Use these ideas to recruit your customers into helping increase your sales and brand awareness.
Referrals can be a great way to generate new business. Of course, if you incentivize your referral program, more people are likely to participate – and at higher volumes.
"Follow Us" Rewards
A simple way to boost your word-of-mouth marketing is to offer social media-exclusive incentives. Provide a coupon code, shipping discount, or some other type of reward to users who interact with your business on social media. Alternatively, running a contest or giveaway through social media can accomplish the same goals - more so if you offer a worthwhile prize.
Shoppers love to brag about recent purchases on social media. Some ecommerce sites prompt customers to share their purchases on social media immediately after checkout, but there are more effective ways to encourage your customers to talk about their purchases. You can include calls-to-action in your packaging such as social media instructions (“follow us at…”), post recommendations (“take a picture and tell us how excited you are to start using this product”), and hashtag suggestions.
A continuous flow of inventory is a major goal for ecommerce businesses. But when seasonal, market, or other fluctuations negatively affect your sales, you may find yourself stuck with excess inventory. Consider the following tips to address the excess inventory you have, and keep more of it from building up.
Make a plan ASAP
The longer you wait to do something about your excess inventory, the more problems it causes by taking up space (which is even worse if you are leasing additional space just for excess), increasing taxes (if you wait until that time of year), and potentially devaluing (if the next iteration of a product is around the corner, demand for the previous iteration may drop even lower).
Liquidate in moderation
Perhaps you're willing to deeply discount excess inventory to get rid of it quickly. But, if you find yourself doing that on a consistent basis, it can spell trouble for your profitability. If you liquidate regularly, you’re losing out on profits without addressing the root cause of the excess inventory. Consider a change in marketing strategy to renew consumer interest, or move on to different product lines.
Partner with a charity
Donating your products can do more than just spread goodwill. If your business is eligible for them, the federal tax deductions you receive may even be better than what you’d get from liquidation. A gifts-in-kind organization can help you donate excess inventory to where it’s needed.
Optimize your Inventory Strategy
Because excess inventory can tie up your working capital and warehouse space, it’s best to try and avoid it in the first place. With Fulfillment Works, our state-of-the art inventory control management system is fully automated to help you manage your inventory by sending out real-time movement history reports, current usage analysis reports, and other metrics to maximize the efficiency of your inventory levels.