Online retail is expected to grow 8-12 percent this year (3x higher than the wider industry growth) with sales predicted to fall between $427 and $443 billion, according to National Retail Federation. This means that online retailers need to be on their A game now more than ever, especially focusing on seamless branding, efficient automation and stellar customer service.
Here are four strategies to keep in mind when examining the marketing and shipping aspects of your business to ensure that you capture additional revenue as the ecommerce market continues to grow.
Build Your Brand
No matter what the call to action is in customer communications (giveaways, free gifts with purchase, free shipping, heavy discounts, etc.), online retailers should make sure their branding — logos, links to social media, site links, etc. — is included. These brand elements shouldn’t be confined to email marketing messages, but should be included in every type of communication, including confirmation emails, shipment tracking pages, return labels, delivery emails, invoices, etc.
Consistently emphasizing the brand builds awareness and recognition, which is essential to gaining new customers and converting existing customers into long-term buyers. In short, it keeps customers coming back by helping them remember where to come back to.
Save Time and Money with Automation
Keeping orders from multiple marketplaces organized while using different shipping carriers can be overwhelming. Putting automated shipping software to work on ecommerce fulfillment — especially order management and shipping — drastically reduces processing time and shipping costs. Repetitive tasks can be automated, which saves time and increases accuracy.
Shipping fees can be reduced by making it easy to compare rates across various carriers and services. Savvy retailers use software to automatically apply shipping methods to their domestic and international orders, automatically insure orders and manage the returns process efficiently. When shipping is managed efficiently, it frees up valuable resources for other parts of the business.
Step Up Customer Service
Online retailers need to spell out their return policy and any other big policy changes on their websites. Making it easier for customers to find this information increases pre-sales trust and creates a smoother interaction with your customers. As ecommerce continues to become the standard for retail shopping, many online retailers take things a step further by dedicating extra resources to responding promptly to any questions their customers may have, no matter where they pop up (looking at you, Twitter and Facebook). Make your FAQ page readily available, and update it frequently with recurring questions to improve the process for future customers.
Be a Returns Hero
Studies show that customers are much more likely to become repeat buyers when retailers adopt customer-friendly returns policies and processes. Fast responses to return requests can set smaller sellers apart from the retail giants. Supplying return labels without resistance, eliminating restocking fees and crediting refunds promptly will create loyalty and trust. Also, absorbing the cost of returns can be a huge win for retailers. Customers who have to pay for any part of a return are far more likely to go to a competitor for their next order. The online retailers who attract the most loyal customers make the returns process as painless as possible.
When it comes to managing an ecommerce business, efficiency and customer service are key. With these tips you’re bound to have streamlined fulfillment, happy customers and revenue growth.
Nathan Jones is the CEO of ShipStation