Esther Kestenbaum Prozan is President of Ruby Has Fulfillment, a major ecommerce fulfillment provider for top DTC brands.
With new brands constantly being launched and the process of commercialization being democratized by platforms that make it easy to promote new brands as well as more legacy brands going online, competition has become really stiff. Add to that changing conditions due to world events such as Covid-19 creating more unpredictable sales cycles, as well as the need to compete not only domestically but worldwide, and being able to throttle revenues in a variety of ways has become really important.
Fortunately, one of the great things about running an e-commerce brand is that there is always something you can do better, a new technology or app you should try or a giant shift you can make to move forward. There are upsides everywhere. Here is a list of relatively simple things you can do:
1. Increase traffic
If you haven’t optimized your website for search engines (i.e., SEO) or invested in search engine marketing (SEM) or paid online advertising, it’s high time you did so. No e-commerce company can survive without an online presence. It starts with organic search and improves with advertising, social media and content building.
2. Increase conversion
Have you mapped your customer’s journey? If you’re getting a lot of traffic but no sales, this process can show you where you’re losing them. Simple things like adding a buy now/pay later option at checkout or a welcome offer on your home page can increase conversion at little cost to you.
3. Increase average order volume (AOV)
Create bundled offers that encourage customers to put more items in their cart (e.g., buy-one-get-one-half-off deals) or simply package similar items together (e.g., three t-shirts for one price). You can also suggest additional items at checkout based on what’s in their cart.
4. Create repeat customers
Enclose an insert with each order or first-time orders that gives customers a reason to return. Create a loyalty program for frequent shoppers and engage these customers on social media. Or if your product lends itself to repeat purchases, consider developing a subscription program.
5. Identify your most profitable customers
Customer relationship management (CRM) platforms for e-commerce collect and aggregate customer data that you can use to target and refine your marketing spend. This way, you’re concentrating your efforts where the payoff is biggest, doing more of what works best and eliminating anything that underperforms.
Make sure to pay attention not only to first-order value but to customer lifetime value (CLV) and factors such as recency and frequency when you determine which customers are high value. This will help you focus on the right kind of marketing, whether it’s acquisition, retention or reactivation.
6. Reduce your return rate
There are multiple solutions for return authorization management (RMA) systems that not only streamline the process but help you turn a cost center into an upsell opportunity.
For instance, there are apps that allow customers to exchange products for a new color, new size or something completely different right there on the spot. There are also apps that credit the customer’s account before they’ve even returned the product and encourage them to spend the credit before leaving the website. The returns process has come a long way from printing out a return label.
7. Add free shipping
A recent study by Convey found that customers would rather have free shipping than fast shipping, and they’re willing to wait an extra day or two to get it. Even Amazon is now encouraging customers to pool multiple packages to a single delivery day and offering incentives for choosing a later delivery date. You may be able to offer free shipping for less than you think.
8. Reduce shipping costs
Can you move your products to a distribution center that’s closer to your customers? A fulfillment provider with a national footprint can split your inventory between facilities and take advantage of regional and local carrier networks.
9. Go international
Going international is a lot easier than you may think. The internet has already made your products accessible around the world. Now, direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands can take advantage of cross-border solutions that simplify the complexities of international shipping.
These platforms are built to handle customs and duty fees, tax collection, language barriers and payment systems in multiple currencies. They stay abreast of international shipping laws and regulations in each country so you don’t have to.
10. Add more digital sales channels
If you’re a wholesale brand, add a DTC channel. The cost of entry is a lot lower than building a new store. If you’re a DTC brand, take this opportunity to explore drop shipping or marketplaces. In either case, I guarantee you will learn valuable things about your brand by listening to your customers.
11. Save on fees
When it comes to selling on Amazon, you can save on fees by switching from Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) to Seller Fulfilled Prime (SFP) or Fulfilled by Merchant (FBM). Due to the new inventory thresholds with FBA, it’s time you diversified your fulfillment options anyway.
12. Think of it as an opportunity
Slow sales periods are the perfect time to improve your website, test new products, streamline operations, clean up email lists and do all those other tasks you put on the back burner when things get crazy. Don’t waste the opportunity!
For e-commerce companies, both the opportunities and challenges continue as the industry quickly evolves, but there are many ways to manage hurdles and seize the ever-growing set of opportunities that e-commerce presents today. These 12 strategies can translate into top-line and bottom-line growth as your volumes increase.