Ship & Sip 2023 Strategy and Growth Recap
Have you ever wanted to get insights from other business owners and industry experts about how they get ship done? Our twice-a-quarter event series, Ship & Sip allows you to do just that. Hi! My name is Erin and in addition to being the Manager of the ShipStation Community, I also have the honor of hosting Ship & Sip.
For the first Ship & Sip of the year, we were joined by Kyle Urech (Area Sales Manager, Auctane), Emilie Bingham (Senior Manager Marketing Communications, Auctane), and Kim Wren (Senior Director of Business Development, SkuVault) to discuss 2023 strategy and growth. Each of our panelists took the floor to present some strategies you can take to maximize your growth this year even during a time of financial recession.
Offer free and transparent shipping
Ecommerce is a rapidly evolving industry, and the last few years have been no exception. Customers want choices and to control their post purchase delivery options. Whether providing a more economical option, greener experience, or faster delivery, your customers want control and transparency.
“If you remember back to 2019 and years prior, businesses were competing with Amazon Prime. Customers’ expectations were if they ordered something online, they would receive it in two days without costing additional fees. It was very hard for ecommerce retailers to compete.”Kyle Urech
While fast delivery is still important transparency has become essential. Focus on what your consumers care about. Instead of offering carriers by name and service, keep it simplistic and offer options like “ Good, Better, and Best.” Suppose you define these options by the time it takes to get the item in the hands of your customers instead of locking it into a specific carrier or service. In that case, you’re providing transparency to your customers. Additionally, it allows your business to choose the most economical carrier in the promised turnaround time.
Free shipping was also discussed as another way to streamline shipping and can be beneficial when done correctly. If you offer free shipping at a specific cost threshold based on product margin, you can end up increasing your average order value. Think about it this way, consumers are much more likely to add another product to their order to hit the minimum for shipping, as it is the equivalent of getting a free product instead of paying for your shipping.
Increase post-purchase communication
With inflation and the cost of living increasing, consumers are looking for places to cut back on spending or at least to be more cautious
“When we are thinking about how to grow in 2023 making sure that you’re really taking advantage of the people who have already purchased from you continuing to build on that relationship with them and to continue to drive them back to purchase from you again is going to be really key to growth.”Emilie Bingham
So how do you build upon this relationship? Communication. Emilie gave us a sneak preview of the research for an upcoming report that states 31% of consumers are less likely to shop with an online brand again if they don’t send tracking updates.
Tracking information is no longer nice to have; it affects consumer purchase decisions. Also, it tells us that it’s truly a continuation of your checkout experience from start to finish. The great news is that ShipStation offers a Branded Tracking Page, Branded Returns Portal, and even Branded Label functionalities to help make this easier than ever before.
Beyond providing a seamless branded experience, the research done by ShipStation found that 42% of consumers said they want tracking updates on a daily basis. The frequency of information is just as important as the transparency piece. Consumers want this information because they’re excited about their orders. Customers want to know where their package is and they want to plan ahead for it.
The post-purchase communication can seem like the least important piece of the puzzle at times for merchants, but it’s truly a place to start building a connection with your consumers, and it should be a big focus for your business this year.Emilie Bingham
Simplify the returns process
In addition to consumers paying much more attention to post-purchase communication the majority of customers will take a look at your return policy before placing an order.
“The ease of returns is really important to people and we know that. As a consumer we want it to be easy to return things. What you want to do is make sure that your policy is easy to find and make sure it is simple for people to understand.”Kim Wren
Big complicated policies are not the way to go. You want to keep your policy as simple as possible and make sure it’s easily located not only during pre-purchase but especially as a part of post sale communication. You will want to cover how long your user has to return an item, how they initiate it, and if any costs or responsibilities are applicable on the customer’s side.
When you’re defining your window for returns, consider how much time is feasible for your customer to receive the product, open the package, and initiate the return process. Not every consumer is going to open your package the moment it arrives. Oftentimes, consumers will open their package when they know they need the item, not at the time of arrival. You want to give your customer enough time to inspect your product. Another thing to consider is how you are offering your refund. Remember that you have other ways to handle returns than just cash refunds like offering exchanges or even offering store credit to avoid losing the sale.
Outside of having a clear and visible return policy, your best plan of action is to act upon refunds fast. Customers don’t want to have to track you down for a refund, so making this process as painless as possible is the best route to building consumer loyalty and relationships. Beyond that, you want to make sure you are set up to properly process returns. The more seamless the set up the better, which is why solutions and software like SkuVault and ShipStation can help you deliver better and more automated experiences.
How Erin Sees it
Right now with an uncertain economic landscape, it’s even more crucial to provide not just transactions but a hands-on white-gloved experience all the way through your post sales period. With consumers looking for places to cut back on spending, fostering a positive experience with your consumers is no longer an option, it is required. Make sure that you are taking time to consider not just how to get sales but removing barriers to purchase and barriers that might occur in your post purchase experience. A big key to success in 2023 can be found in transparency, communication, and delivering on what you promise.
We are so grateful to all of our panelists and our sponsors, SkuVault and Simplistic, for helping make this event possible and for all of the amazing insight that was shared. We hope that you will be able to join us for our next Ship & Sip. Until then, we wish you well and hope you have the tools you need to Get Ship Done in 2023.