Full Scale Outsourced Ecommerce Solutions
Why Full Scale Ecommerce Solutions Save on Headaches
Ecommerce business owners have a lot on their plate. Each day, they get the distinct privilege of sourcing inventory, managing their website and shopping cart, interfacing with customers, managing their sales and marketing, overseeing the fulfillment of their product to end customers, and other various tasks that require significant time and attention. It’s no wonder that many growing ecommerce businesses outsource various functions in order to take some of the burden off of their shoulders. However, managing outsourced providers, if done ineffectively, can result in little or no time savings, especially when using multiple providers. But using a single competent single outsourced provider to perform many of the ecommerce fulfillment related tasks can provide the time and cost savings needed.
A New Breed of Outsourced Providers
Because of the specific knowledge needed to succeed in the ecommerce space, and because of the synergy between many of the ecommerce fulfillment functions, a new breed of outsourced providers has emerged to assist online storefront businesses in processing day to day tasks. These ecommerce fulfillment providers specialize in fulfillment (storing and shipping goods), call center (fielding inbound customer service calls), shopping cart integration (maintenance and integration with shopping carts), and oftentimes marketing services (expertise in helping businesses increase sales utilizing online marketing best practices. The sizeable benefit with using these companies is that they provide a “one stop shop” for most of the outsourcing needs of an ecommerce retailer. This means that there is only one company to manage, which significantly reduces the time required to manage the relationship. Furthermore, because these providers have expertise in all areas of ecommerce, they can add value well beyond a traditional provider since they have visibility into all aspects of the relationship and business in general.
One Word of Caution
When considering the use of an all inclusive ecommerce fulfillment provider, be sure to thoroughly investigate the capabilities of each and every function of the provider. For example, some of these provider are notorious for being really good at certain outsourced tasks, but not as good at others. Therefore, you want to ensure that the chosen provider is competent at all outsourced functions. But once you feel comfortable with their capability, the time savings and synergies that can be realized are extensive. And especially smaller to midsized companies can benefit tremendously from this approach by having a partner that can provide suggestions for growing and marketing the business.
Do You Have a Handle on Your Ecommerce Shopping Cart?
You May be Tracking Sales, But Other Metrics Will Lead You to Success
If you’re like most small business owners, then you more than likely pay very close attention to your top line sales. Keeping track of gross sales is a very popular measure and very easy to monitor. But if you’re like many owners, you probably also ignore some other key performance metrics that could help you more successfully navigate through and avoid potential ecommerce and business pitfalls. Take a look at some of the below metrics that you should consider adding to your monthly financial checklist. They could mean the difference between success and ultimate failure of your business.
A very important metric to monitor consistently is the conversion rate of the pages on your ecommerce storefront. Conversion rate is simply the percentage of people that “take an action” on your website as a percentage of the total visitors to your site for any time period. “Taking an action” can be anything from filling out a form or requesting a whitepaper, to making a purchase on your website. Conversion rates are critically important in identifying what is working on your website and what’s not. Pages that have higher than average conversion rates may have a particular structure or appeal that can be used to bump up the performance of other web pages. On the other hand, poor performing pages may need to be changed in order to give your website visitors the best possible chance of taking an action.
It’s great to know where your “top line sales” stand at any given point. However, sales mean very little if you’re not making profit. Taking a look at gross profit is imperative to successfully running a business. Gross profit is defined as the profit that remains after deducting cost of goods sold from sales. But it might make sense to delve even deeper than this for your ecommerce shopping cart. Incorporating online marketing expenses into your profit analysis will help you determine if your online advertising is profitable. It’s great if your sales are increasing as a result of marketing efforts, but if profits aren’t at an acceptable level, then the marketing efforts may need to be tweaked.
Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate
If you notice that a healthy percentage of potential customers are entering your shopping cart but aren’t actually buying your product, then you might need to make some adjustments to how you’re positioning your product. This is referred to as shopping cart abandonment analysis. There are a host of things that could impact shopping cart abandonment rates – from shipping offerings to price of your product. As with most things related to your ecommerce shopping cart, testing is the only solid way to determine the best course of action. Adding an abandonment analysis to your monthly checklist will help you identify issues that can be corrected.
Taking a little extra time to review some important metrics for your shopping cart is worth its weight in gold. Although these aren’t an exhaustive list of metrics to perform, they’re a good start in order to catch some of the most common ecommerce business killers. Pay close attention to these numbers and you’ll not only be able to weather the storm but also surge ahead to ecommerce success.
Is NYC The Best Location for Fulfillment?
Your business is at the point where you’re considering using a fulfillment company to handle your products. Since you’re located in New York City, your first inclination may be to find a fulfillment company in or near the Big Apple. After all, isn’t it a good idea to be close to the warehouse in case you need to pop by to check out an incoming shipment or investigate an error? While close proximity may help you feel more comfortable, don’t forget to consider some other important factors. By considering other areas outside of NYC, you may not only be able to cut costs but also connect with a company that specializes in your specific needs.
NYC Could Cost You
New York City ranks number one for the most number of people in any US city – which is good if you sell a consumer product. However, it’s also the most expensive city to live in. Cost for living, such as food, transportation, and housing will have an impact on the costs of outsourcing with a fulfillment company. Labor cost will be higher, and running a good fulfillment firm is dependent on quality workers to fill the orders, to pick and pack if needed, for handling customers’ requests, and for the day to day running of the warehouse.
Warehousing space can also be more expensive in these areas. Lack of space for new construction can also come into play. Fulfillment Companies may need to tailor their warehouse to accommodate specific cargo, and new construction may not be cost effective. Additional space for growth may not be available.
Expanding Your Location Horizons Can Cut Costs
Finding Fulfillment Companies outside of New York City, with lower cost of living, lower storage cost, and lower labor cost, could result in cost savings to you of upwards of 20% to 40%. You can find companies that may offer the same services, but location is well worth considering when choosing your next Fulfillment Company partner. Places like upstate New York,New Jersey, and Pennsylvania offer areas that can still be reached on a day trip but have potentially significant differences in costs.
Finding a “Better Fit”
Because New York City is only a limited area, there are only a limited number of options for fulfillment houses. By looking in other areas in the northeast US, you’ll increase the pool of potential outsourced providers. And by doing so, you’ll have more options, some of which that might specialize in your specific niche. For example, you’ll be able to find fulfillment firms that focus on DVD/CD distribution, apparel warehousing, and many others.
All in all, it’s perfectly understandable to want to outsource with a provider close to home. However, if the costs of doing business locally are too high, or if the right provider isn’t within a short car ride, you might be best to explore options in other areas. While you may give up a little in control, you’ll gain a great deal in cost savings and “potential fit.”
Order Fulfillment Outsourcing
At Adeptiv Solutions, we want to make sure that you make the best decision for your company regardless of whether or not we end up doing order fulfillment outsourcing for you or not. And because we know the industry, we know the many pitfalls that exist with choosing the wrong fulfillment provider. So we thought it would be helpful to put together a listing of the top 5 things to ask any order fulfillment company before shipping your goods to their facility.
- What is your on time delivery percentage? This is the percentage of time that shipments reach their destination on time. It’s a function of selecting the correct shipping service (such as ground or overnight), as well as technology and vendor relations. In terms of technology, companies that don’t have sophisticated systems will rely on manual intervention to select the correct shipping service, which could mean that an order gets shipped ground instead of expedited service. And the extent to which a fulfillment company has a strong relationship with freight carriers such as FedEx and UPS will impact the ability to correct issues on the fly. For example, if a shipment is sent incorrectly, companies that have a good rapport with freight carriers will oftentimes be able to quickly track and re-route shipments before it’s too late.
- What is your order fulfillment success rate? This is the percentage of time that an order contains the correct items and quantities of items. If a company isn’t well into the 99% level, you’ll need to consider other options. Simply put – if they can’t send your orders out accurately, then move on to the next option.
- What is your retention rate of clients? The extent to which order fulfillment companies are able to “hang on” to clients means that they’re most likely doing a great job. Companies with low retention rates of clients are most likely making too many mistakes or have some sort of billing issue. Remember, some loss is natural, and may not at all reflect the performance of the order fulfillment outsourcing.
- What inventory management system do you use? First and foremost, if the firm doesn’t use an inventory system, run for the hills. Believe it or not, there are still many companies out there that use Excel files to manage inventory. Dig deep into their systems and get a full scale demo of all of the capabilities.
- How many years have you been in business? While there are some great companies that haven’t been around very long, a track record of history or experience in the field will usually equate to increased chances of success.
Be sure to use these factors when deciding on an order fulfillment outsourcing option, and you’ll be able to avoid making the wrong decision. Remember, the industry is filled with companies that don’t perform at the highest of levels, and the last thing that you want to do is jeopardize present or future sales as a result of shipping disasters.
Shopify Shipping Options
Deciding what to charge your customers for shipping is an extremely complicated analysis. There are a number of options that you can pursue, so we’ll walk you through the different options and the respective pros and cons.
Free Shipping Option
There’s been so much coverage of the free shipping option on the web, with the simple premise that offering free shipping will help you get more customers to purchase your product. And it’s most likely true that free shipping will increase sales, but that’s just the tip of the iceburg. The real question should be does free shipping bring more net revenue. If, after you’ve tested using this option, you find that the increase in sales outweighs the cost of offering free shipping, then it may not be a good long term strategy. The key is to test this option out if you’re considering it.
Flat Rate Shipping
Flat rate shipping simplifies the rate calculations. Simply put, you determine an amount that you’d like to add to each order to cover any shipping/fulfillment charges, and the system will tack on that amount to each order. For simplicity’s sake, this is a good option. However, you’ll have to find a way to determine a good “average” to apply to all orders, because flat rate means you can only add one order amount even though you might have orders that vary significantly in shipping costs. For example, some orders will be larger than others, and the ship to addresses will be different. This can be a good option if you want to keep things simple, but remember to come up with a good flat rate that takes everything into account.
Real Time Rate Shipping
You can also choose to use UPS and FedEx integrations in order to do real time rate quotes on your web store. This way, actual weights and ship to locations are taken into account for each order. This option provides more detail and can get you the closest to being fully accurate. However, there is more programming involved and you’ll have to be sure that you have all weight and dimension information in your system to accurately quote each order.
When you’re looking for Magento fulfillment on an outsourced basis, there are three critical things that you need to consider before selecting a partner. These three keys will have a significant impact on not only the quality of service provided to your customers but also the amount of money spent on your project.
First, you’ve got to make sure that you use a company that is familiar with Magento and has a track record of successful Magento integrations with other clients. This step is critical because companies that already have experience with Magento are far more likely to know the ins and outs and specific nuances of the particular ecommerce platform. Yes, this sounds pretty straightforward – but you’d be surprised at how many fulfillment companies claim that they “can” integrate with any solution even though they don’t have experience with Magento. The other benefit of integrating with a company that has already done it is that the cost of integration will be significantly lower and the speed of the integration must faster. In many cases, integration can be done in days or even hours if your site is relatively simple.Second, understand the choices that are available when it comes to submitting orders. Does the fulfillment company allow for automated order entry as soon the order is placed on your website or do they require batch upload. Your specific needs will dictate which option is better for you. For example, if you have a significant number of customers that call in after the fact that change their order, you may want to opt for batch order processing after the order status changes to a certain type.
Third, find out as much as you can about the shipping integrations of each potential fulfillment company, including whether or not tracking is automated. Obviously, you’ll want to find a company that has options to automate the shipping tracking process, whether that’s via emails sent from them or perhaps batch uploads of information sent to you each day so that you can process your tracking to customers yourself.
In all cases, ask the prospective fulfillment companies for demos of the whole process so that you can see visually that they have the capability to take care of your Magento fulfillment needs.
Get the Best Shipping Rates for UPS and FedEx
Shipping costs are a huge part of every online retailer’s costs so finding the best shipping rates for UPS and FedEx is critical to success. Shipping rates account for such a high percentage of your overall fulfillment costs. So how do you make sure that your shipping costs are the best they can be? Shipping high volumes, discussing negotiations with your providers and working with order fulfillment companies can and will help in decreasing your shipping rates.
What Does Volume Have to do With It?
So how do you really know if you are getting the best rates possible? Start asking. The key to remember is volume is the main driver of discounts. Align your goals and strategies to be aiming towards high volumes with shipping. The more you get out the door, the less of a cost it is to you. You are in the end, generating more sales out of your inventory and you are lessening the costs of shipping your items.
Have You Met with Your Rep Lately?
Another area to focus in on is re-negotiating your rates with all providers. Start contacting each of them like UPS, FedEx, USPS and let your provider know that you’re bidding it out to find the best rates. You never know until you ask. Providers desire your business, as much as anybody else desires. They don’t want to lose a consistent client or they don’t want to lose a great prospect. So take the time to see if you can get any further discounts with providers.
Why Outsourcing can be the Key
Have you looked into order fulfillment companies? This can be a great option because an order fulfillment company can store and ship your goods. The benefit of going with this route is that you would receive volume discounts because order fulfillment companies store and ship for many customers. Drastic savings for your business are attainable with looking into this alternative.
Get the Best Rates Possible
Save lost orders by saving costs on shipping. It is vital to find the most efficient way to be successful. So set aside the time to search out how you can save through increasing volumes, talking it over with providers and looking into outsourcing at an order fulfillment company.
The Benefits of Outsourcing
Growth and forward progress will be obtained when you open your eyes to the benefits of outsourcing. This allows breathing room for you, but it also expands your presence in the marketplace. Outsourcing is simply entrusting a part of your work load to a third party provider in order for you to free up time to accomplish new goals. It’s a sign of success when you implement this strategy into your current journey. Below you will find key aspects that directly impact your company when you choose to outsource.
Increase Your Sales
You have more time to work on increasing sales instead of focusing your time on other processes. Take the time to develop and build up sales victories that cause exponential growth within your company. Outsourcing gives significant increase to your sales dollar due to the flexibility given to you in terms of “time”.
Focus on What You Do Best
Keep your eyes on what you do best. Outsourcing allows you to stretch your strengths while still forwarding the vision of your company. Continue to work on your purpose and your skills while other, less “critical” parts of the business are taken care of by competent providers.
Benefits from Specialization
When a company specializes in something, they can do it better than anyone else. Because call centers only handle calls, they can do it more efficiently and effectively than you. Because of this, quality can be improved and costs minimized. Outsourcing allows your core objectives to be at the forefront while the details are worked out behind the scenes.
The Water Faucet Effect
There is no pressure in being locked in for life. Outsourcing gives you control on turning on all outlets or bringing it down when you decide to. For example, if you warehouse your product yourself, and your needs change over time (e.g. need additional space during the holiday season), you’re in control to turn on or off the outsourcing.
Reduce Your Costs
Little things add up when you are having to take the time as well as the expenses, to hire and train staff. Outsourcing gives you access to resources who will do the job for you.
As you can see, the benefits of outsourcing can be a real life saver – especially when you choose the right partner.
Inbound Call Center’s Purpose Defined
Inbound call centers can be lifesavers. After all, when your phone’s ringing off the hook, it’s proof that business is finally booming. When you’re too busy to answer, however, it’s a sign that your business is buckling. Inbound call centers can help.
Designed to help you improve both customer service and relationship management, inbound call center solutions are an affordable, effective means for accommodating growth while satisfying customers. In fact, inbound call centers offer many benefits, and can make life easier for your business on several fronts.
1. Inbound call centers are ideal for taking and processing orders via phone.
2. Inbound call centers offer a fast and affordable solution to sudden surges in business.
3. Inbound call center software can double as an answering service.
4. Perfect for customer service, call centers are an excellent instrument for managing and improving customer relationships.
5. Outsourced call centers are an accessible option for companies that want to provide round-the-clock tech support.
If you have questions about how an inbound call center can benefit your business, please contact Adeptiv Solutions.
Why Scripted Answers Turn Customers Off
Everyone has gotten one of those calls– the I’m-going-to-read-this, then that, then pause…..” It should come to no surprise to anyone that most people actually can DETECT if the person they’re talking to is reading from a script. AND, that’s really not a good thing. If your agents are relying on a script for communicating with customers, those customers pretty much know it.
While that should not come as a total surprise—many transactional interactions rely on antiquated clichés and platitudes that were obviously memorized in advance —intrigue comes from the fact that customers could even detect subtle scripting buried within “improvised” dialogue.
When assessing the sincerity of a brand interaction, customers evaluate more than the agent’s specific wording choices. As such, when a representative attempts to fit the customer’s unique issue into a box and deliver a standard response—even if the representative uses improvised wordplay to actually convey that response—it appears scripted to the customer.
The representative, after all, is formulating his response based on what the “book” or “system” says to do rather than the unique context created by the customer’s inquiry. Is that not exactly what it means to script something?
So, why does this matter? When a customer can tell that the conversation is scripted and impersonal, his perception of that experience gravely suffers, even if the brand has hired the friendliest representatives, offered the lowest prices and enforced the most liberal return policies possible. Every investment the brand has made into strengthening its customer experience is for naught if it cannot demonstrate its commitment to fulfilling the desires of each individual customer.
And since customers are so adept identifying scripted interactions, the simple reality is that brands should not script any non-transactional interactions. If the situation is going to require the agent to craft a personalized response for the customer, brands need to assure the agent is empowered and knowledgeable enough to deliver that unique message.
No one is arguing that agents cannot rely on standardized analytics or knowledge bases when interacting with customers. No one is saying that they cannot leverage signals in the customer’s inquiry to identify common answers and responses best suited for that customer’s situation.
What any wise customer management analyst should be saying, however, is that the agent’s mental game plan for formulating a response should be based on what the customer is saying rather than what the script says.