In the first part of How to Survive Supply Chain Disruption, we talked about the causes behind the current crisis. We also covered steps that you can take to ensure that your ecommerce business can not only survive but thrive during the disruption.
In the second part, we’re going to talk about one key component of thriving during a supply chain disruption: customer communication. Meanwhile, we’re making an emphasis on customer experience during supply chain disruptions.
Keeping in communication with your customers not only keeps them in the loop, but it can also help build trust with your ecommerce business. These are a few of the best practices to consider for customer communication during supply chain disruptions.
Make Communication a PriorityCommunicating with customers should be a top priority during a supply chain disruption. When a status changes for an order or shipment, the customer should be one of the first to know. Customers expect real time updates to their orders. Simply providing a tracking number isn’t enough.
Consider Automated CommunicationIf a product is delayed or goes on backorder, consider using automated emails to inform about updates. This is a quick and efficient way to communicate with customers about the status of their order. Best of all, they won’t feel as if they are in the dark.
Keep Customer Experience in MindCustomer communication is one of the top elements of overall experience. Not to mention, unhappy customers are likely to share their negative experience with up to 15 other people.
Always Follow UpAre you adequately following up with customers about the status of their orders? An action as simple as a follow up can make a big difference when it comes to customer experience. In fact, 97% of companies don’t follow up with customers to make sure they are satisfied with their experience.
Offer a Human ElementBrands offering a human element to their communication process can instill trust in customers. Showing that you are available and reliable can make the process of working with your company feel more human. The good news is that there are several different ways to achieve this experience, ranging from SMS text messages to chatting in real time with your customers via your website.
When customers are looking for support, some may prefer to chat online. While a bot can fill the gaps in some cases, it’s best to have a human on the other end to address concerns. This is especially true during supply chain disruptions, as the customers are expecting real-time responses.
Communication is Key During Supply Chain DisruptionsIn a digital world, there are countless ways to touch base with your customers. Keeping communication at top of mind is critical. This is because a whopping 70% of customers may not shop with you again if shipment delays are not communicated.
The good news is that 94% of customers are willing to give you more time to deliver your order, as long as you communicate promptly. Meanwhile, 99% of customers expect to receive a communication from you if their item is delayed. During supply chain disruptions, keeping customers in the loop can make a big difference in customer satisfaction and returning to shop with you in the future.
WHAT'S CAUSING THE CURRENT SUPPLY CHAIN DISRUPTION?
There are several reasons why the world is experiencing a supply chain disruption in 2021, and possibly into 2022. If you remember the panic toilet paper buying when the pandemic hit, in a way this became a trickle-down effect.
That’s because supplies began panic buying more materials than they needed to keep up with demand. This ranged from all kinds of items and materials, including plastics, wood, and even soybeans. No matter what industry you are in, you are likely observing some effect of supply chain disruption and product shortage.
Production in China slowed down during the height of the pandemic. Serving as the world’s factory for nearly all everyday items (and much more), availability for materials came to a screeching slow down.
Meanwhile, the current shortages are also causing price inflation. As the global economy works to recover from the pandemic, businesses and customers alike are feeling the crunch.
HOW IS THE DISRUPTION AFFECTING ECOMMERCE?
Product shortages are causing problems ranging from dissatisfied customers to having a plan for an economic downturn.
The disruption is forcing ecommerce brands to predict how customers and even your competitors may respond to economic downturns. It’s also making brands look into alternative suppliers and devise a plan of how to get what they need.
However, the effect of the disruption isn’t entirely negative. The disruption presents an opportunity for some or all the following:
No matter the positive or negative effects of the disruption, here is how you can start handling shortages.
WHERE TO START WITH HANDING SUPPLY CHAIN DISRUPTION
Ecommerce is incredibly competitive, and having a plan on how to handle disruptions can save your sales as well as your reputation. However, brands must face reality that this disruption is likely going to last for quite a while. Without a plan, you’re sailing on a sinking ship.
Consider Your Inventory
The first approach is looking at your current inventory. What do you currently have that you can ship to customers quickly and affordably?
This is the time to start stockpiling on items needed for inventory. Imagine what you would need if your supply chains were entirely unavailable to you. Even though there is likely going to be a wait, put your orders in as quickly as possible to build up inventory. This way, you won’t be caught unprepared or unable to supply customers with what they need.
Get a Backup Supplier
There’s no better time than now to consider a backup supplier. What other suppliers can you reach out to for fulfilling inventory needs? You might need to consider new suppliers from other corners of the globe to help bring in new inventory.
Partner with Logistics Professionals
When you’re having trouble determining the logistics of low (or no) inventory, it can pay to partner with the professionals. They can potentially help you find new sources of inventory that you may have otherwise overlooked.
Create an Emergency Plan
Consider what you will do if there is no inventory available to buy. This will be part of your plan of action to stockpile what you need. However, you’ll also need to consider how you will communicate emergency plans to customers.
Customer communication is a major aspect of surviving a supply chain disruption. In part II, we’ll show the best practices of customer communication during a supply chain disruption---a big key to surviving the uncertain.
It was a year-and-change ago that we first addressed the good news/bad news narrative ecommerce merchants were facing after a global pandemic kneecapped economic and public health concerns around the world. That was a seismic shock on a number of levels, but as business and life needed to go on, we explored strategies for preserving investments and even making the most of a new captive audience of shoppers forced to buy online.
Fast-forward to this point, more than halfway into 2021, and we are still here. After a brief period of “reopening” after a vaccination purported to liberate us from isolation, a resurgent Covid-19 wave has yet again imperiled virtually every aspect of our lives.
How did your store fare during the initial lengthy duration? Did you thrive or struggle? Whatever is your story, it’s about to again face challenges. But the shift toward online buying has paved the way for a potential continuation of opportunity.
Lockdowns hitting physical retail establishments last year bumped up the statistics for ecommerce merchants worldwide, but not by a significant margin – at first. Eventually, those numbers increased, reflecting comfort among consumers who grew familiar with and appreciative of the convenience of buying online.
Averages being averages, not everyone fared the same. The Latin American marketplace Mercado Libre doubled its daily sales between the second quarter of 2020 and the same period of 2019. Coronavirus, not a friend to anyone, did boost sales in the US for ecommerce merchants. Year-to-year sales increased just over 32 percent at the height of the lockdown. Perhaps Americans were more motivated than anyone to shift their shopping venues.
Not all good news
Though a general trend sent consumers to their computers and phones in record numbers, that did not translate to a universal benefit for all sellers. The reason will resonate as obvious: averages are driven by big players, and all in all, the existing ecommerce giants such as Amazon and Walmart saw the most gigantic hikes. In other words, either those who had experience with established online sellers were more likely to go to them for all or most purchases, or shoppers who were new to the game decided to trust the marquee merchants over smaller entities.
“Digital divides” played a role in this; online infrastructure was prepared to deliver, so to speak. Mid- to small-level sellers had a lot of catching up to do. And for some it never really materialized.
That said, this continued global struggle with a pathogen that doesn’t seem likely to go away presents a renewed opportunity to seize on what is already existing in everyone’s business model, provided they made early efforts to transition.
An important factor for sellers around the world is the role governments play in facilitating access and relaxing regulations. Convincing elected officials that economic fitness, including critical levels of tax revenues essential for day-to-day operations, is a primary goal, is paramount. Most understand but may lack the willingness to invest at a time when budgets are shrinking. Economists understand this is the opposite of good economic policy. An organized effort to convince them otherwise could make an extraordinary difference that benefits all.
Whether you're jumping off the dock or settling in for a backyard BBQ, we hope you have a wonderful Labor Day weekend.
Come back next week for a new post on Covid and its continued affects on ecommerce.
How to Handle Abandoned Carts that Don’t Result in Sales (plus 3 Helpful Tools)
Welcome back to the How to Handle Abandoned Carts that Don’t Result in Sales series. In part I of the series, we discussed the following:
Implementing the advice from the last blog can help you create an outreach plan at the precise timing. But what if you can automate some of the process while saving sales at the same time?
Now, we’ll discuss tools that can help you automate abandoned cart problems and regain sales.
1. Optin Monster
Optin Monster is a popular pick as a cart abandonment saver tool. It uses advanced page-level targeting to track the behavior of your visitors.
From there, Optin Monster will provide your customers with irresistible offers. This tool also comes with attractive and beautifully designed templates which are entirely customizable. Some of the approaches that Optin Monster includes countdown timers, floating bars, and geotargeting.
2. BigCommerce Cart Abandonment SoftwareWant to send automated emails for abandoned cart users? BigCommerce Cart Abandonment Software implements this approach.
It works like this: a customer adds an item to a cart. They close out of the browser or leave without purchasing.
From there, BigCommerce Cart Abandonment Software will send an email to your customer and remind them to come back.
You even have an option to add a coupon for extra enticement. Keep in mind that one of the reasons people abandon carts is unexpected (or high) shipping costs. An automated email with a coupon for free shipping can sweeten the deal.
3. Chatra Live Chat + Cart SaverHow about a pop-up chat box in real time when a customer abandons their cart? That’s what Chatra Live Chat + Cart Saver is all about.
This is a powerful plugin for engaging visitors. An interesting advantage is that you can see what customers are typing before they hit the send button. It’s almost like reading their mind!
How can you take advantage of undecided shoppers with live chat, including Chatra and similar services? Several approaches include:
Implementing an automated process for abandonment carts can be a game changer for saving sales. Keep an open mind in terms of which approach works best for your business. You may begin with one idea or automated tool and then switch to another, tweaking to get your desired results.
Understanding your customers and their behavior can assist with scoring more sales while increasing buyer confidence. Meanwhile, these 3 automated tools can help you save time while overcoming abandoned cart obstacles.
How to Handle Abandoned Carts that Don’t Result in Sales
As customers browse your products, it’s not uncommon to add products to cart without making a purchase. Unfortunately, the average abandoned cart rate is 72%, which can seriously take a bite out of your profits.
While frustrating, there are solutions to help this happen less often while having more successful transactions. In this two-part series, we’ll show you to handle abandoned cart situations that don’t result in sales.
Why Do Customers Abandon Carts?
Before we dive into effective strategies for handling abandoned carts, it helps to know why people abandon carts in the first place.
There are several common reasons:
The good news is that there are ways that you can reach out to abandoned cart customers and alleviate their concerns.
Reaching out to Abandoned Cart Customers: Time is of the Essence
There is a strategic process for reaching out to abandoned cart customers, especially if you want to do it effectively.
Timeliness is important when it comes to reaching out. You’ll want to act quickly, as the experience at your online store will be fresh in the customer’s mind.
Meanwhile, a timely outreach can help tap into the purchase mindset. A customer might still have the idea of an item or shopping on their mind, making it easier to lead them back to the cart.
Another important note to keep in mind is accessibility. The customer might still be on their computer or on their phone. If this is the case, it can be a quicker and easier process to finish the purchase.
Best Practices for Abandoned Carts: Customer Outreach
Now that you know the importance of timeliness, it’s time to think about best practices to put into action.
One of the most popular ways to reach out to customers with abandoned carts is via email. Abandoned cart emails can be quite effective when used correctly, helping you to regain up to 14% of your sales.
You’ll want to send the email within the first 2 hours of the abandoned cart occurrence. If this doesn’t yield a response, send a follow up email 24 hours later.
In the email, you’ll want to include a photo of the item that the customer is considering. This approach will get the item back on the customer’s mind. Providing a link to their cart can give them quick access to make the final purchase.
If you still find yourself having a hard time with abandoned carts, this is a chance to add a discount to the product or offer free shipping. Since unexpected costs can contribute to abandoned carts, this is one way to address the issue.
For part II of our abandoned cart series, we’ll discuss tools to use for abandoned carts. These automated suggestions will help save you time with the ultimate goal of customers finishing their transaction.
Don’t be surprised if the lion’s share of blog posts and other venues devoted to offering tips on building and sustaining your ecommerce biz are directly related to marketing. It’s clear by now that the virtual world of shopping has expanded consumer options exponentially, which comes with its own Catch-22: yes, you have a built-in audience you’d never have as a simple physical store; no, you are not the only game in town. Crafting a smart, savvy marketing strategy is the only way to become a viable presence with a statistically significant customer base.
Thankfully there are innumerable useful hints on how to market an ecommerce business, and they range from commonsense to proven to edgy, new approaches developed after the phenomenon of online buying reached its multi-decade stage.
Following are strategies known to generate business and, more importantly, to keep it.
For a bevy of fabulous tips, facts, strategies, and overall info on the evolving ecommerce world, check out ecommerce specialist Namogoo. They are awesome.
When their customer base is virtually all over the country, or even the world, ecommerce merchants must employ a different strategy than brick-and-mortar sellers in terms of assessing consumer demand. There is no way around this, and it highlights the upside/downside element of internet selling by expanding a customer base while fighting to retain competitive advantage over the litany of other online merchants.
One way to push ahead is to expedite an analysis of trends that drive consumer choice in real time. The pace of demand and taste is always evolving, and often doing so faster than the pace at which most can adjust. This is the time to acquire a method of quickly figuring out what is most likely to make your online store a success. The answer is to turn to rapid customer research.
While there are several ways to accomplish this, we find several useful resources that can guide sellers. Depending on the user research method you prefer, you can get into varying levels of assessment with respect to what your buyers and potential buyers want. Shopify, with its frequent and generous tip offerings to ecommerce vendors, supplies this collection.
The pandemic-induced physical lockdown that prevented customers from making quick trips to local stores naturally shifted more and more consumers to online shopping, a phenomenon that was widely celebrated among ecommerce vendors. It also established a new list of demands and considerations that each seller should have studied in order to take advantage of the expanded buying class.
Three important factors stand out:
Among dozens of considerations merchants of all type need to take to heart, one of the most impactful is offering reduced pricing either as part of a sale even to all or even to selected loyal customers. This has become a problem for many ecommerce vendors, especially. Discounts are well known to be magnets for new and existing buyers; in fact, for online commerce, they are a driving force in the skyrocketing rate of revenues year after year.
For larger e-sellers, discounts are a staple and a primary marketing tool. Giants such as Amazon use them to produce maximum revenues on a marginal basis, meaning they may profit more on the sheer number of sales, even if they take a loss on each individual transaction.
But when is and is not a good time to slash prices? Here are some important factors to evaluate, broken into two categories -- advantages and disadvantages:
The Yes Effect, or why offering sale prices is a great idea:
The old adage goes something like this: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” We’ll back off of the hyper-dramatic element therein, while still making a solid point. And here it is: Attempting to ramp up your practical and technological upgrades can be a colossal failure for an ecommerce store if it is not prepared to make certain that it’s functional.
Countless blogs—including ours—eagerly advocate for trending technology as a method of padding your bottom line. It’s simple to discover a new strategy that uses tech concepts to make your site more noticeable and competitive, and even simpler to share it as a fabulous way to help you sell. The downside of this unfolds when the execution goes south, and disappointment ensues.
This blog post represents a reversal of our typical entries, for good reason. It’s equally important to avoid errors as it is to take advantage of popular, accelerating trends.
Here are some examples, pulled from past suggestions we and others have made: