Consumer expectations for shopping online doesn’t discriminate between the Amazons of the world and the boutique small business shippers. Standards have been set by Amazon—two-day shipping, free shipping, the ease of the buying experience—that small business owners have to keep up with, lest they lose market share to those bigger retail shipping companies.
In recent years, the rise of subscription boxes with curated or customized shipments have put additional pressure on small business shippers. Not only does a customer expect fast, low-cost shipping, but they expect to feel an element of surprise and personalization when they open their packages.
Is it fair that small consumer-facing businesses have to compete with delivery services against some of the world’s largest companies that may have the backing of venture capital and shareholders? Of course not. But that’s what the online retail landscape looks like.
While thinking of your small business as a competitor to Amazon might feel daunting, it’s certainly possible to compete—and succeed—in the online space by zeroing in on a few key customer relations strategies.
Small Business Owners: Take Advantage of Technological Advancements
It’s not necessarily about having more sophisticated technology than Amazon. In fact, that’s probably impossible. The key to using technology to your business’s advantage is recognizing what you need and doing those things as well as possible.
For example, we know that 86 percent of shoppers are using at least two sales channels. Most retailers sell on four or five channels. Maintaining all of those digital storefronts is challenging, but can lead to huge increases in sales—especially on Facebook and Instagram, which are growing in importance as shopping channels with every passing month.
Selling on multiple platforms can be a lot of fun, especially on social media. Instagram is a great place to showcase your brand’s aesthetic; Twitter is a great place to be cheeky. To succeed online, it’s critical that you make your brand stand out.
Take note that in order to maintain a presence on multiple platforms, companies need to monitor inventory management and have a streamlined shipping strategy. Small business shippers should monitor and maintain several product catalogues while shipping from several sources, such as a company-owned warehouse and a dropshipper.
Be Accessible on Mobile
If you’re building a website today, your developer will almost certainly make it mobile-friendly. Some e-commerce businesses may even design for mobile first with desktop as an afterthought.
But if your website was built a decade ago, it may look clunky and hard to read on a mobile device. If readers have to zoom in, scroll horizontally to follow your text or navigate finicky drop-down menus, they’re more likely to simply navigate away.
It’s easy to blame these consumers for being fickle. But they’re just responding to the digital world as they’ve come to expect it: quick to load, easy to read and intuitive to navigate. The mobile-first mentality extends to payments, too. More online retailers are accepting payment via Apple Pay and Google Wallet. Brick-and-mortar retailers are starting to accept these payment platforms, too.
If a customer has to pull out her wallet to type in a credit card number, then no matter how clean your website looks on mobile, it isn’t truly mobile-first.
Grow Your Business With Shopify Shipping
The good news: you don’t have to do this all yourself. Shopify is a popular digital sales software platforms designed to make it easy to create a mobile store that looks great on a variety of screens. It’s one of many.
In the second quarter of 2018, 76 percent of online purchases on Shopify were made from smartphones and tablets. That is an enormous audience, and it’s only going to grow larger as we spend more time on our phones making purchases.
Ship Orders Quickly
This expectation can be blamed almost entirely on Amazon: customers expect fast shipping (often two days or less), and they expect it to be free or very cheap.
Because shipping takes place offline with hardware and human workers responsible for delivering packages, it can be very challenging to promise shipping services that ship orders quickly in a way that saves money and reduces shipping costs.
A straightforward shipping strategy is essential for customer satisfaction. But it’s also important for satisfying the algorithms of online marketplaces. Small businesses that offer fast and low-cost shipping—and are able to deliver on those promises—often earn higher customer ratings, resulting in higher placement on marketplaces, which in turn drives more business.
Technology can help small businesses to enable their products and pricing to be kept in inventory. Small business shippers should design a smart network for their store supply warehouse and optimize transportation so that customers get their orders on time.
It’s not easy to know which partners to work with. The process starts with identifying your needs that make sense with your small business logistics. Then, you can seek out the companies and organizations that will best help you meet those needs.If you need advice, that’s exactly what Reveel is here for. Reach out today to connect with one of our expert shipping consultants.