This blog was contributed by Lindley Graham who leads the creation of insightful ecommerce and shipping content for merchants via Canada Post. Canada Post is the leading parcel delivery company in Canada and works with merchants of all sizes to power their end-to-end ecommerce strategies.
The gap between what customers want and what merchants offer is widening. It’s a challenge for growing retailers to carve out the time to keep up with rising expectations. Not to mention research best practices and manage change.
Sometimes day-to-day demands keep you from working on optimizing ecommerce operations. Without realizing, the task slips to tomorrow’s to-do list. And you’ve accidentally eclipsed your plans for growth.
To position your business for growth and bridge the customer experience gap, you have to optimize every stage of your workflow. Read on to see how.
1. Use technology wisely
Technology is the backbone of your ecommerce operations. It’s what connects your ordering, fulfillment, shipping, receiving, and returns. And it enables you to keep the delivery promises you’ve made.
Check for weak spots in your workflow. Source the best technology for the greatest connectivity and strength at each stage. Because every online business is different, it’s important to understand what technologies will work for you. From ecommerce platforms and shipping solutions to inventory management and point of sale systems, you have a lot of options.
When it comes to shipping, what’s your budget, and how many labels do you need to print? You’ll need shipping software like ShipStation to create them and hardware to print them. A standard office printer (laser or inkjet) may be fine. Or depending on your size or expansion plans, a thermal printer could be your solution. A thermal printer can handle bigger volumes, create barcodes, and cost as little as $200.
Pssst… Canada Post integrates with ShipStation! Easily streamline label printing for orders shipped within Canada and around the world.
2. Satisfy your savvy shoppers
Did you know only about 1/3 of shoppers make over 75% of Canadian online purchases? Known as Power, Hyper and Hyper-elite shoppers, they buy up to 40+ purchases a year online. Mostly millennials and Gen Xers, these ultra-knowledgeable consumers do their research. They consult everything from returns policies to free shipping and delivery speeds. Design your fulfillment process with these shoppers in mind, and you’ll get it right for everyone.
Savvy shoppers expect fast and error-free fulfillment. But with many hands on this part of the process, it’s where errors can happen. Organize your workspace and make your packing process as efficient as possible. This will keep shoppers happy — and your business growing.
3. Make delivery a delight
When an online shopper receives a delivery, your brand is in the carrier’s hands. The experience can influence a customer’s decision to shop with you again – positively or negatively.
To be competitive, be sure to make these key moves:
- Provide tracking. Almost 100% of shoppers tracking their items in transit, so you can’t afford not to. Do this on your own site via integration with an ecommerce platform. Or allow your shoppers to access your carrier’s tracking information.
- Be speedy. Large retailers have raised shopper expectations, especially in larger cities. Thus, you need to offer multiple shipping speeds and services at checkout.
- Be flexible and convenient. The big ecommerce players often provide a choice between home delivery, in-store pickup, or collection from a post office.So give shoppers options. Because sometimes it’s easier to pick up a parcel on route to or from work.
4. Tackle ecommerce returns
As shopper expectations continue to rise, merchants must likewise continue to innovate. And as behaviors change, it’s important to pay extra attention to your returns strategy.
Nothing ruins shopping more than a bad returns experience. Unfortunately, the gap between what consumers want and merchants offer is wide. Often wider than anywhere else along the ecommerce chain.
Decide what truly anchors your returns policy. Is it the ease, simplicity, and convenience customers demand? Or is it the control and visibility that helps you manage the business? Your answer will shape your policy. If you’re happy to compromise, consider sharing the cost of returns with consumers.
5. Drive international growth
Canadian e-retailers are coming of age in a fast-moving domestic market. In fact, they’re growing about 13% a year. As they gain confidence and experience, many eye the bigger markets beyond our borders. Like everyone else, international shoppers are looking for convenience and certainty. Success is about finding the best fit between product, shopper, market, and workflow.
Opening your business to new markets doesn’t have to be as daunting as it may seem. We’ve summarized a few key tips in this recent ShipStation blog.
Plan for the peaks
As you refine your workflow, be conscious of peaks in demand since seasonal shoppers have a significant effect on ecommerce operations. This includes your pick-pack-ship process and returns. During the peaks, both volumes and expectations are high. So be prepared by getting ready for the holidays way before your shoppers do.
Find everything you need to fine-tune your processes and close the customer experience gap with Canada Post’s free ebook.
- 2018 Canadian Online Shopper Study, CPC 18-200, April 2018
- Canada Post, CPC#16-215, “Canada Post Consumer Survey”, December 2016
- 2016 Canadian Online Shopper Study, CPC 16-202, April 2016
- Consumer Delivery Preferences, CP 14-206, August 2014