One of the ways of increasing revenue as a retailer is by offering more channels for buyers. Multi-channel selling provides more opportunities for selling and boosts revenue. In fact, retailers with two marketplaces get 190% more revenue than their counterparts with a single marketplace.
These statistics confirm that multi-channel selling is a win for the retailer, but we all know the complexities of adding a channel. In most cases, delivery can be severely affected.
What Customers Expect from eCommerce Delivery
Consumer expectations have always been on the rise. In a survey of 2,000 UK shoppers undertaken by Sorted, 46% made it clear that they preferred a convenient and personalized delivery service while 70% wanted to see more flexible delivery options. Another 66% hoped retailers and delivery companies would work jointly to smoothen the delivery process.
In another eCommerce study that surveyed 3,000 shoppers (from 18-65 years) across Europe and the United States, 66% had purchased from a single retailer – in preference to another – because this seller offered a delivery service that was appealing. 96% of the buyers confirmed they would make repeat purchases with a retailer if they got a positive delivery experience.
What do customers expect from delivery?
Customers want everything – from how you list your information, to marketing, to when a product is delivered on their doorstep – to be on point.
In a nutshell, there are the things consumers expect:
- Fast delivery
- Flexible shipping options
- Affordable prices
UPS’s Pulse of the Online Shopper (2016) takes things up a notch:
- Two in three shoppers expect to place an order as late as 5 p.m. the night before for next day delivery
- Two-day delivery preference continues to increase (10% in 2014, 16% in 2015, 20% in 2016)
- Due to time-sensitive personal reasons, half of shoppers are ready to pay a premium for faster shipping
- 72% of online buyers want to see the expected delivery dates of the orders they select
- 48% value guaranteed delivery dates when they are checking out
- 46% of buyers abandoned a shopping cart because the shipping time was not provided or was too long
More statistics from Temando’s 2016 State of Shipping in Commerce report after surveying 214 retailers and over 1000 consumers:
- 77% of buyers want to see guaranteed weekend or after hours shipping
- 61% of buyers want 1-3-hour shipping
- 80% of buyers want same day shipping
- 82% of buyers want to collect their items from stores
These findings are proof that poor delivery can cost brands dearly, especially now that retailers are dealing with digitally empowered consumers who do not hesitate to broadcast their disappointments.
Let’s say you have a Shopify store and you have taken the multi-channel route; how are you going to master multi-channel delivery? It’s a balance between optimizing your multi-channel campaigns on the frontend while also dealing with inventory, orders, and fulfillment on the backend. You want to sync prices, fulfillment, and inventory across the channels as you enable instant purchases on the sales channels. It can be overwhelming.
Regardless of the Shopify plan you are using, and the channel you pick, multi-channel selling can be a bit challenging. Here, we have identified five broad areas that you can work on if you are a Shopify seller who wants to master multi-channel delivery.
- Cross-channel messaging and branding
- Customer support and experience
- Shipping, fulfillment, and returns
- And the growing pains of a multi-channel seller
Let’s discuss them in detail:
1) Cross-Channel Messaging and Branding
You want to keep your branding and messaging consistent across the different channels to create the same impression everywhere. Sadly, you only get one chance to make the right impression. So, how do you paint the right picture on all channels?
Understand the Requirements of Each Channel
Shopify marketplaces have different requirements when it comes to things like word count, photo size, messaging, and graphics.
For example, when you showcase your products to customers across Google networks, using Google Shopping, you don’t have to use the same method on your Instagram channel – where you sell by tagging products in your posts and stories.
You may have to use a different style in messaging, photos, and graphics – as long as the experience is consistent on both channels.
Ultimately, both the Instagram and the Google shopping channel should display consistent branding, give shoppers a consistent buying experience, and a uniform customer service experience.
Have a Strategy for Updating Messaging and Branding all at Once
Have a plan for synchronizing updates on all your channels to avoid using out-of-date branding, messaging, or product photography.
One way of achieving this is by using a Shopify productivity software like Sellbrite that can manage all your sales channels from one simple interface. Sellbrite gives you a centralized control and allows you to have a centralized product catalog that you can review and manage in real-time for all your channels
2) Customer Support and Experience
Creating the right experience for clients is a priority. However, nurturing and maintaining a relationship with customers can be challenging when you are dealing with unpredictable customers from different channels.
Above all, get to know your shoppers’ pain points, offer them outstanding support, sell them high-quality items, and provide them with value. Shoppers are always looking out for an unmatched experience.
Hire and Train the Right People
The only way your customers will receive world-class support is when you create a world-class team.
Depending on your business, you can have in-house staff or outsourced contractors as long as the team can meet the growing demands of a changing customer base. Proper communication should be emphasized, and every customer service agent should know what is expected.
Shopify has an insightful guide on how to hire, train, and retain the right retail employees if you are looking to build a dedicated customer experience team.
Document the guidelines of how you want your brand to interact with clients on each of the channels, and make sure your team can follow these guidelines. The instructions should have examples, stories, and valuable links – to make them more relevant to your team.
Use Automation Tools
There are numerous tools that your support team can use to make sure every client is getting the same level of interaction when you reach out.
Listen to Customers
Always listen to your clients. If you discover they are not getting a desirable experience, go out of your way to find out why, and do something about it. Sometimes just listening to your customers will solve the most complex problems.
One way of listening to your clients is by mapping out their journey. Take some time to map out the journey that your typical customer takes from when they discover your product up to the point of purchase, delivery, and re-ordering. Look out for opportunities that you can tap to delight them more along the way and provide them with an unforgettable experience.
If you are using Shopify Plus, you could install an app like Hindsight on your store to record visitor sessions. The app should help you gauge user behavior. Shopify Plus traders also get to access Shopify’s Google Data Studio reports that aid in collecting metrics that can be used to increase sales. Lucky Orange is another excellent app for analyzing customer behavior as it will give you a heat map of the customer’s activity on your site
One business that is making use personalization is Alloy Apparel. The clothing store will display a range of products for sale and personalize the products with whatever is trending.
Personalization may also manifest itself by branding your packaging a certain way, including free surprise gifts (sticker, bookmark, pen, coaster) in your package, or by adding a personal card from the person who packed it.
Make it Easier for Customers to Find Whatever they Want
You will be losing clients if your store is poorly designed. A poorly designed store looks shady, is hard to navigate, and lacks a clear value proposition. Even the fonts are sometimes unreadable.
You can make tweaks to rectify these mistakes, but your site could still be having design issues. Figure out the right balance of text and photos and segment your products properly. There are so many ways to soup up your Shopify eCommerce platform, including changing the Shopify theme. Here are examples of attractive eCommerce websites that you may want to mimic.
You will also be losing customers if you have not optimized your product pages. Embrace Conversion rate optimization (CRO) to help you detect problems in your site and to get a clear picture of how conversion-oriented your site is. There are several ways to implement CRO to increase sales. Your eCommerce website is the hub where your channels will be unifying. It is the platform that you will need to ensure cohesion across other sales platforms, and, therefore, it needs to be consistent, have proper branding, and it should send a message that broadcasts consistency across your other channels. Customize the look and feel of your site across devices by having responsive storefronts and customized checkouts.
Also, a good number of your sales will be undertaken via mobile devices, because going by Statista, more than half of online shopping will be taking place on mobile devices by 2021. Therefore, you also need to optimize for mobile, and this means having a responsive design to cater for mobile visitors. Make it easier for the mobile shopper to add to cart without any issues: make it easier to load photos, and easier to zoom in. Ensure the “add to cart” button is easily accessible.
Engage Your Customers and Visitors Online
1) Use live chat – live chat lets you have direct conversations with your clients to answer their queries or address their concerns. An example of a store that is making good use of live chat is Luxy Hair. The hair products store uses live chat to interact with prospects and update current shoppers about their order status.
2) Use Instagram – Instagram is one of the fastest growing social media platforms with over 500 million daily users. Take great photos, run contests, adapt hashtags, and post at the right time to build a massive Instagram following of shoppers who like your products. Instagram is all about engagement, and you can even go the extra mile of showing your product development process. An app like Social Photos will alert you when photos of your products have been hashtagged by customers. You can then showcase the best customer photos on your site as a way of using User-generated content (UGC) to generate social proof. Consumers love to see people like them using your products because it builds their confidence in purchasing from you.
3) Consider blogging regularly to connect with buyers and to rank better in search engines. In your blogs, create long-form content and guides and educate customers on how to use your products effectively. A brand that is making good use of this content marketing strategy is River Pools and Spas. They even got a shout-out from the New York Times.
4) You may also consider starting a podcast.
Reward Loyal Customers
According to Stitch Labs, return buyers account for 22% of a retailer’s revenue. This is proof that you need to focus your energy on customer retention if you want to increase your online sales.
You can have a customer loyalty program to incentivize your buyers to make purchases. And better, you don’t have to stress about building a loyalty program from scratch. There are several solutions on the Shopify App Store.
Understand Your Customers
Your mission is not only to identify your target market but also to understand how to communicate with them and their needs while making your products and brand meaningful to them. From there, it becomes easier to know which channels your shoppers are using at different stages of their purchasing process. You will also get to know which audience segments to expect on each channel.
For example, according to Pew Research Center, Instagrammers skew younger than Facebookers. Therefore, if you want to target shoppers between 18-24, Instagram is the channel to prioritize. On the other hand, if you are targeting an affluent market, the Amazon channel is the place to go because Amazon Prime members are typically loaded.
Carry out market research and get a clearer picture of your clients, including their preferences and needs. After that, make informed decisions on the channels that work best for your business.
Customer Service Tips from Shopify Gurus
Shopify nags its merchants about the value of excellent customer service because they understand how important it is. For this reason, Shopify even went ahead to interview some Shopify Gurus from the incredible 24/7 Merchant Support Team.
These were the tips they gave about customer service:
- Have fun with your website because it’s a piece of art
- Be on the lookout for the fantastic content that Shopify produces in blogs and podcasts
- Social media is excellent for site traffic, and Shopify has a helpful article that can break down social media
- Every Shopify seller should make an effort of reading 50 Ways to Make Your First Sale because it is a remarkable list for any shop owner who is looking to increase clients and go beyond
- Just keep moving because stalling is worse than making the wrong decision
- Google is your friend, and it will always have an answer to any questions you have
- Simplicity is key, and you should always break down an issue into smaller parts
- Always check out Shopify’s webinars
- SEO Checklist, bulk editor and Launch Checklist are three Shopify resources that are worth looking at
- Subscribe to the Shopify blog because it has plenty of resources
3) Shipping, Fulfillment, and Returns
When your business is small, and you are selling on a single channel, shipping may be manageable. However, it gets complicated as you increase your sales channels. Shopify has a detailed guide to shipping and fulfillment that any Shopify seller should find helpful.
Let’s highlight two points that should make these processes easy when dealing with multiple-channels:
Carefully Pick Your Fulfillment Options
On Shopify, you have the following fulfillment options:
- 3PL (fulfillment center)
The choice you pick will depend on your business, products, and many other variables. If you are considering a fulfillment provider, make sure they can meet your needs, and they have the right tools to meet the demands of your channels.
Many merchants struggle with the fulfillment process once an order has been placed, and it may be worthy to consider an outsourced fulfillment provider; unless you are Amazon and you specialize in supply chain management and logistics. Using a fulfillment service has many benefits, including lower shipping costs, and improved customer service.
Deliverr is an Amazon-like fulfillment solution that integrates directly with your Shopify store, with an easy onboarding process and no hidden fees.
Have Clear Return Policies
Your clients and prospects should have a clear understanding of your return policies. Be clear on the guidelines concerning returns and have links to these guidelines on every channel you are using. This will help mitigate any future headaches as you work to scale your business and launch new items.
4) Growing Pains
As you expand your channels, you will have to scale your operations, and this will result in growing pains, which go hand-in-hand with growth. One of the best ways of dealing with growth challenges is having the right tools for your Shopify business.
Get the Right Tools
Invest in multi-channel eCommerce software to help you organize and manage all the channels on one dashboard. Ultimately, the multi-channel software should make it possible to administer each sales channel from a single dashboard. It should centralize listing, item descriptions, selling, and the management of every channel to ensure alignment with buyer demands.
The right tool should also measure the effectiveness of your business strategy while having the ability to coordinate the flow of data from one part of your business to the next.
Generally, the right tool should assist when:
- You get overwhelmed with tasks and are unable to focus on your business’ growth initiatives
- You are getting insane web traffic
- You want to maintain a uniform service delivery
Here are some tools that the Shopify sellers may want to consider:
- Launchpad – It gives the seller the ability to schedule front-end customizations, track performance in real-time, and automate event checklists for every channel. If, for example, you are planning a flash sale, Launchpad will let you map out the parameters of your sale, decide where to launch the sale, and choose the appropriate channel. Apart from picking themes for the sale, you can also use Launchpad to select whether you want prices showing on all your eCommerce outposts or in just a few. You also get to decide when the sale should end
- Shopify Flow – It is available on the Shopify App store for Shopify Plus traders only. Shopify Flow can be used to automate several tasks if you want seamless service across your marketplaces. The tasks include hiding out-of-stock products, republishing products when stock is replenished, and pausing marketing efforts among many more
- Point of Sale – POS quickly enables you to identify the items that need your attention and tracks trends in your business. Use it to manage inventory and customers while also getting helpful analytics
Mastering Shopify multi-channel delivery is about having the right mix of tools, technologies, and tricks. It is only then that sellers can create an environment where shoppers can buy anything, anytime and get on track to building a sustainable and profitable business.