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Why Are Ecommerce Sites Still Losing Customers at the Checkout?

Posted on 12/03/15, filed under 3PL, eCommerce tips | No Comments

A sobering statistic for any owner of an ecommerce business appeared recently. Apparently 40% of online customers ditched their baskets before they had completed their purchases during the peak Christmas shopping period.

This finding, from research by courier company Hermes, echoes that of similar surveys conducted over the last couple of years. So what is causing online shoppers to spend time filling up their baskets only to abandon them at the checkout? Top of the list of shoppers’ complaints were delivery charges that were only revealed at the checkout stage and frustration using the website.

Here’s some advice on how to ensure your customers enjoy a straightforward shopping experience and don’t become lost opportunities:

Make your delivery costs and timescales clear at an early stage
You needn’t worry about putting customers off: the Hermes survey found that online shoppers are quite happy paying for delivery, proof that they value the convenience factor over high street shopping or collecting orders in person.

Address technical issues to make sure your web pages load quickly
More than a few seconds and it may be too late – the shopper will have vanished.

Ensure your website is mobile-friendly and works on all screen sizes
Shoppers are increasingly turning to their smaller devices for researching and buying presents, and a sizeable proportion complain that retail sites are fiddly to use.

Make the payment process as simple as possible
Don’t make forms too long or ask for extensive personal details, or force the customer to register before buying. Remember that not every web shopper is web savvy. Ensure it is easy to edit the shopping basket too.

Consider offering a price guarantee
Shoppers often get cold feet when they start wondering whether the item might be cheaper on another site.

Send personalised emails to the basket-droppers
You will normally have secured an email address from the customer who abandoned their basket at the payment stage. So fire off an email a little while later: as well as using the customer’s first name you should go further by adding some details about the products they left in their baskets, perhaps with some reviews and testimonials.

Follow the actions above and you should have fewer abandoned baskets – or, if the customer does give up, you may still be able to win them back.

It is important to maintain a streamlined operation across the whole business, including supply chain and logistics: this will go a long way towards delivering the service your key customers demand. To find out more about how we can help you with this, contact RT Page on 01903 736300 or info@rtpage.co.uk.

Locker Collection – What Does it Mean for 3PL

Posted on 24/02/15, filed under 3PL | No Comments

As more and more consumers shop online, so the demands they make on retailers have grown too. Today’s consumers now expect speed and convenience unimaginable to pre-internet generations. And they want the delivery to be just as smooth as the ordering.

Locker systems

In response to these demanding customers, forward-thinking businesses now offer locker systems for convenient delivery. These come in a number of guises, but the best-known scheme sends the customer details of their nearest locker along with a locker code for picking up their purchase.

New variations are emerging. Waitrose has trialled deliveries to a locker box with refrigerated compartments. Another concept, formulated for clothes rather than food shopping, combines elements of ‘click and collect’ with lockers: the customer goes to a staffed ‘locker bank’, which has a changing room nearby for trying on the clothing ordered. If not satisfied the customer can return the item without delay.

Like a click-and-collect system, locker collection means that even if they still have to go to their nearest store, customers can pick up their purchases without the bother of queuing. Online retailers with no physical stores can set up lockers at some form of dedicated collection point, forge a partnership with an independent store, or even arrange with London Underground to use station car parks.

The locker system removes the problem of how to deliver parcels when the buyer is at work. Bad experiences of companies which fail to deliver when they say they will (the buyer often has to take time off work to wait at home) perhaps explain why, contrary to expectations, shoppers have been happy to forgo home deliveries for collecting. Customer collection comes with the added bonus that it makes same-day order fulfilment possible.

Impact on retail and logistics

For the retail and third party logistics (3PL) industries a locker system is easier to manage than a home delivery and can be built into the existing supply chain infrastructure.

As delivery options grow, retailers are having to ensure their back-office processes are robust enough to manage the end-to-end product lifecycle and satisfy customers. People are quick to turn to social media to share their annoyance about slow delivery.

Inevitably, the growth of online shopping is putting pressure on retailers’ ability to process the high number of orders and manage all the delivery requirements. This is where specialists come in. Turning to a third party to manage the logistics of delivery enables a business to concentrate on its core, day-to-day activities. This is especially important for smaller, newer businesses. Customers want to know about availability from the very start: via the sophisticated inventories of third party logistic companies, retailers have valuable up-to-date information on stock levels.

RT Page brings over 50 years’ experience to managing supply chain logistics. Contact us on 01903 736300 to find out how we can handle the supply chain process from you.

The Secret to Shifting Slow-moving Stock

Posted on 06/02/15, filed under eCommerce tips, Storage Space, Warehousing | No Comments

What to do about merchandise that has not proved as popular as anticipated is a quandary all online retailers in every sector face from time-to-time.

We’ve put together some of the top tricks to help you shift your slower-selling stock.

Withdraw items from sale, keeping them for a later date (especially if they are seasonal).  This way, instead of having to reduce the price for ‘sales’ purposes, you can reintroduce the product to the market a year later – still at the original price.

Attach the item to another, faster-moving product, with the slow-moving item effectively offered at a discount if bought with the more popular one.  Customers will find this bundled package a good deal, even if the second item isn’t something they were setting out to buy.  Similarly, you could bundle two or more of the slow-moving items together and offer them at a discount.

Run a one-day only or similar short-term sale.  Hesitant customers will realise they have to buy now, rather than wait and miss the promotion.

Use eBay to target a different, and perhaps larger, market.  It can be done anonymously, so that it does not intrude on your main business, or as an eBay shop.  A larger market can be reached whatever your online retail platform by being prepared to try something differing and make a product that is not selling very well in the UK available internationally.

Reconsider how you present the product.  Are the images right?  Is the language used in the description convincing?  Use your bestselling item as a point of comparison, and also have a look at how a competitor describes a similar product.  Make sure your shipping information is clear, as uncertainty about delivery can deter even the keenest customer.

Add some product reviews and testimonials, if there aren’t any already.

Adjust the price, though not too soon: it is better to do this only if the other steps have proved unsuccessful.  If your competitor is charging less for the item, you should consider following suit.  If you do lower the price by a sizeable margin you should take the opportunity to promote this.  You can do so on your website, via an email promotion or through social media.

With a little ingenuity, and the tips we’ve given above, sales will pick up and you can clear some precious warehouse space, making it available for one of your more profitable product lines.

For more help with making your stock management more efficient, call RT Page on 01903 736300.

How 3PL Can Help Reduce Online Returns

Posted on 22/01/15, filed under eCommerce tips | No Comments

Christmas 2014 was dominated by online sales, with many of the big high street names putting their rise in sales down to significant increases in online purchases. House of Frazer reported a record year for sales, which was boosted by an increase of 31.2% in online sales. Meanwhile, John Lewis reported an increase of 19% in online sales over the five weeks prior to 27th December – 56% of which were click and collect orders.

But whilst these are all significant signs of the growth in ecommerce, there is the inevitable deluge of returns as incorrect or unsuitable items are returned. An estimated £500m worth of unwanted goods are expected to be returned, according to a study by LCP Consulting.

Returns are always going to be a problem for e-tailers but there are ways to help minimise returns and here are our top picks for reducing the rate of returns in 2015:

Provide size guides where necessary
One of the top reasons for online returns is the incorrect size being ordered by the customer. If you’re selling size-related items ensure you are supplying shoppers with a size guide to help them select the right fit. House of Frazer launched a sizing tool for users to input their height and weight, these measurements are then used to suggest product sizes whilst the customer is shopping.

Display plenty of images to illustrate products
Let customers get a good look at what they’re about to buy by displaying as many images as possible. Online-only fashion retailer ASOS even uses a short catwalk video to give their customers a better idea of what the item looks like. This will ensure the product meets your customers’ expectations and minimise returns.

Turn to the experts
For a customer receiving the incorrect item from an online order is frustrating, but also adds unnecessary costs for you. Choosing to work with a reliable 3PL (Third Party Logistics) company will mean you have an expert team and fully-equipped warehouse at your disposal. Using an experienced team, whose job it is to pick and pack online orders on time and correctly, will ensure all of your orders are met, minimise mistakes and, most importantly of all, ensure your customers are happy.

If you would like to speak further with someone about working with an expert warehouse team call RT Page today on 01903 736300.

Consumer Demand Supports 3PL Growth in 2014

Posted on 19/01/15, filed under 3PL | No Comments

2014 was an excellent year for ecommerce businesses. Central to the success was the increase in omni-channel distribution. Omni-channel distribution is the multichannel approach to retail in which retailers create a seamless shopping experience both on and offline.

Consumers have become more demanding as technology has improved. They want to buy what they want, when they want it and where they want it. This always-on shopping experience includes:

  • The ability to buy online and collect the item in-store (known as click-and-collect)
  • A choice of multiple delivery options – including next day delivery or in-store collection at their convenience
  • Mobile-friendly so that they can browse when and where they want
  • The ability to try an item in store, but have the option to get it delivered at home if the size or colour they want is out of stock in store
  • Being able to return an item to a store even though they bought it online
  • Deliveries every day of the week

Convenience is central to today’s consumer and as a result third party logistics (3PL) companies are being pushed to deliver an ever more responsive service to the consumer. Whilst distribution centres have been providing a warehouse-to-customer service for years, the omni-channel supply chain is a new service the industry must tackle.

More than two thirds of UK consumers have used a click-and-collect service, 56% of John Lewis’ online sales were represented by click-and-collect sales – showing the importance of this new home delivery alternative. This coupled with their 19% growth in online sales over the Christmas period, which accounted for 36% of all trade, shows again the importance of a reliable third party logistics company to ensure an all-round seamless shopping experience.

To find out how our 3PL warehousing services can help you meet the demands of today’s consumers contact us now on 01903 736300.