Big Picture Pointers for Expanding your Ecommerce Business

There comes a time when ecommerce start-ups must take a serious look at their future growth. Breaking in to the biz can be easy, but success requires careful planning. A third-party fulfillment provider can lend you their experience and infrastructure to help you develop a strategy for efficient expansion - but you need to make sure they align with your business goals, brand objectives, and growth potential. To help you find the right 3PL provider that's in-tune with your goals, keep the following elements in mind.
    

Scalability

Your logistics provider should be as flexible as your industry – able to grow and scale its services alongside your business. At Fulfillment Works, experienced account managers lead dedicated warehouse teams to master all aspects of our clients’ fulfillment needs – including their unique products, customers, and shipping policies.

Systems Integration

Data is king, and you need to be able to access it even as your ecommerce site changes and grows. Ideally, a 3PL provider should have no problem integrating your current technology and software solutions to keep everything working seamlessly. Our online fulfillment management platform has limitless integration potential.

Compatibility

When your goal is strategic growth, you don’t want a fulfillment company who think of you as just another tenant renting warehouse space. In other words, you don’t want a 3PL provider – you want a 3PL partner, who understands your brand, business, and fulfillment challenges. At Fulfillment Works, we believe in providing a customized level of service. We have helped ecommerce companies both large and small reach their goals for growth. Contact us today with your specific challenges to learn exactly how we can help.

Communicating your Shipping & Returns Policies

There are LOTS of moving parts under the hood of a well-oiled ecommerce operation. Try as you might, unpredictable situations are bound to occur. To help customers with common questions, have your shipping and returns policies outlined on your website. In most cases, an FAQ-style page allows you to clearly state your policies in a format that customers will understand.
    
When developing this content, your customer service staff should be able to provide frequently asked questions that are specific to your business. At minimum, you’ll want to address the following general areas:

Shipment lead time

Most online customers assume that their orders ship out the same or next day. If your average lead times don't fall into that timeframe, you should explicitly state how long it takes an order to ship. Otherwise, you may see a higher number of calls from customers asking about their order status.  

Military addresses

Military destinations require customs forms for deliveries and restrict on the types of items they will accept. Plus, not all carriers deliver to military addresses. Clarify whether you ship to military addresses, which products are eligible for military delivery, the carrier used for military shipments, and any additional rules or restrictions.

Undeliverable orders

Packages can be returned as undeliverable if the address is wrong or incomplete, or if the recipient refuses to accept delivery. Make sure your customers understand that it takes time to process packages that are returned as undeliverable - which can impact how long it takes to re-ship or issue a refund.

Advantages of Customer Contact Centers

As the ecommerce industry continues to evolve, so too do approaches to customer service. For example, self-service support – where customers use FAQs, user forums, site content, or other means to solve a problem or answer a question without the assistance of customer service staff – is more popular than ever. While this approach to customer service certainly has benefits, it may be detrimental to make self-service content the sole focus of your customer service efforts.
    
Self-service content works best when it's supported by a customer contact center. The two work together – call centers provide personalized service and fill in the gaps commonly found in self-service resources. Meanwhile, self-service content lightens the load on your call center. Call centers can also provide some extra advantages over self-service content, such as:

  • Resolving order fulfillment, payment processing, and other problems not related to specific products
  • Assisting with social media engagement
  • Retaining customers who have a disappointing experience
  • Generating revenue through upsells, cross-sells, etc.
  • Providing customer feedback to management – resulting in new product and service ideas

Because of these advantages, choosing the right customer contact center is a major step in leveling up your overall customer service. To learn more about the call center services provided through Fulfillment Works, contact us today.

The Best Information to Include on Product Pages

The main function of product pages are to provide users with the information they need to decide whether to purchase a product. There are many types of information you can add to these pages to make them more useful to potential customers, including:
    

Imagery & Video

Give shoppers something more than standard manufacturer-provided photos – which tend to convey only basic information about a product. In addition to using images that show customers as many models, colors, angles, and other variables as possible, include images or videos of the product in multiple scenarios (e.g. in use, before assembly, in storage, on display, etc.) to give customers more information.

Product Descriptions

Written descriptions educate shoppers about the product's functions and features, specifications, and advantages over similar products. However, you don’t want to frustrate your users with a wall of text - so keep your product descriptions short and to the point. When possible, try to let your images do the talking.

User Reviews

Whether positive or negative, reviews are an asset for product pages. Obviously, positive reviews reinforce a prospective customer’s decision to buy. Meanwhile, negative reviews give you the opportunity to help consumers who were unhappy with a purchase. Even if they do not respond or change their review, other readers will see that you made an effort and are sincere in your customer service.

Technical Data

For certain types of products (especially in the B2B space), users really appreciate technical product data like dimensions, weight, materials, instructions, and spec drawings.

Shoppers rely on various types of product information in their purchasing decisions. Your product pages should provide this information with as much clarity and detail as possible so customers can comfortably "add to cart" without needing to leave your site and find the information elsewhere – possibly from a competitor.

Site Features to Boost Customer Spending

Using design choices to limit the checkout friction on your ecommerce site is a great strategy to increase customer spending. You can enhance a solid design with features that further add to the convenience of customers - encouraging them to order more.  In this post, we'll highlight what some of these features are and why they work.
    

Stock Alerts    

Adding “low stock” alerts to product pages creates a sense of urgency that prompts customers to purchase while the item is still available. If you link this feature with your inventory management system, you can even display the alert as a countdown.

Suggested Products

Product suggestions are a way to show customers items they may not have found on their own. However, showing other products based on category alone (the default functionality of many product suggestion widgets) is not very effective. Instead, use algorithms to make suggestions based on customer preferences (demonstrated by their overall order history), or on purchasing trends you notice (e.g. items based on seasonality or products that are commonly purchased together).

One-Click Buying

The checkout process is the area where most ecommerce customers abandon a purchase. If customers can skip the traditional checkout process, they’re that much more likely to place an order. There is a caveat in that one-click functionality is patented by Amazon and requires a licensing fee to use. Although it’s a useful feature to have on your site, it may not be worthwhile if you can’t recoup the cost of the license from the extra sales.