Month: August 2022

How to Start a Subscription Box Business

The 2021 global pandemic revived subscription boxes. And their popularity doesn’t seem to be fading anytime soon. There’s a reason why subscription boxes are so popular among consumers.

Thanks to its convenience, personalization, and savings potential, the subscription box model is here to stay.

If you’re yet to embrace the powers of subscription boxes, we’re here to share the best practices behind selling them and how to start your own subscription box business.

Already offer subscription box services? Keep reading to learn how to grow and scale your subscription box business.

The power and popularity of the DTC subscription box model

Subscription boxes come in many shapes and sizes. From replenishment services to curated collections, subscription boxes typically contain multiple products. Customers will receive their subscription box on a regular basis — be it weekly, monthly, or another frequent schedule.

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands that offer subscription boxes add a lucrative recurring revenue stream to their business. Repeat orders will routinely roll in as subscription box orders go out. Meanwhile, customers will benefit from predictable deliveries and may even have control over what they receive.

According to Jennifer R. Wolkin, PhD, an NYC-based clinical psychologist, subscription boxes can uplift our emotions — “When we find something new in the box, the mesolimbic dopamine pathway, thought to play a primary role in our brain’s reward system, is likely stimulated to release dopamine. Dopamine is known as one of the reward and pleasure-inducing neurotransmitters.”

Essentially, subscription boxes act like mini-rewards by firing up our dopamine receptors (the reward center of our brains) and result in making us feel happier.

Research in the UK noticed the popularity of subscription boxes soared during the height of the 2020 pandemic and is set to grow to £1.8 billion ($2.16 billion) by 2025. 55% of shoppers said they signed up for a subscription box as a way to treat themselves — backing up Wolkin’s claim that we buy subscription boxes as a way to reward ourselves and evoke positive emotions.

In the US, the Washington Post found that some Americans were subscribed to as many as ten subscription services. The subscription economy in the US is expected to grow to an impressive $1.5 trillion by 2025.

As a DTC retailer, subscription boxes offer an opportunity to increase your bottom line while delivering positive experiences for your customers.

Subscription box business best practices

Subscription box business best practices

Understanding what it takes to deliver a showstopping subscription box will allow your brand to stand out against a sea of subscription competitors. Before you dive into adding subscription box services to your online store, brush up on some best practices.

Learning from some of the subscription box giants, we’ve pulled together our best practices for DTC retailers looking to start (or grow) their subscription box model.

Carefully choose your niche

Get specific about what you want to sell as part of your subscription service. Choosing a niche will allow you to enhance your bottom line by becoming the go-to merchant for that product type.

When choosing your niche, aim for an industry that is desirable without being overly competitive. Look for a gap in the market and aim to fill that gap with your subscription service.

Dollar Shave Club is a DTC subscription brand who are reaping the rewards as a result of niching down. Dollar Shave Club could have easily curated a subscription box of skincare products but they took their model a step further by specifically niching down to razors.

They recognized a gap in the market and fulfilled that need with their subscription box. According to McKinsey, Dollar Shave Club is the most popular subscription box among men and the second most popular subscription service overall, just behind Amazon Subscribe & Save.

Take inspiration from Dollar Shave Club by seeking out a popular, yet underserved niche.

Presentation matters

People often buy subscription boxes as a gift for themselves or others. So, keep that gifting experience alive by investing in presentation.

By putting that extra effort into your subscription box presentation, you’ll curate an unboxing experience that will fill consumers with joy whenever they open it.

A carefully created unboxing experience can increase perceived value, generate brand loyalty and increase your chances of going viral. You only have to search “unboxing experience” on YouTube to know how much people love presentation.

As part of their Unboxing series, Lumi unboxed Empathy Wines, a DTC subscription wine service co-founded by entrepreneur, Gary Vaynerchuk, the outer mailer packaging is branded. This creates brand visibility from the offset. This branding continues on the inside, oozing personality and creating a visually appealing backdrop to your subscription products. Bonus gifts of collateral cards, stickers, and information cards about the farmers and brand pull the customer into the experience and enhance the brand values.

Level up your presentation to create powerful unboxing experiences.

Choose a fulfillment partner

Don’t fall victim to fulfillment bottlenecks. Before you even launch your subscription service, consider how you plan to fulfill orders.

Shipping subscription boxes require more legwork than selling standalone products. You need to curate boxes, add multiple products, remember additional details (such as information cards), and ship them out on time. You also need to account for new subscribers and any cancellations. Managing subscription box fulfillment can quickly get overwhelming.

Find an experienced subscription box fulfillment partner to help you smoothly ship subscription boxes. The organization is key here. Inform fulfillment partners in advance of upcoming subscription box contents and ensure they have all the inventory they need in good-time to prep orders.

Prioritize personalization

The pull of personalization is one of the main factors that encourage consumers to buy subscriptions. Subscription box customers also want to be delighted and surprised by their subscription.

Whether you curate boxes based on customers’ answers to a quiz or you give them the freedom to choose their own products, consider personalizing the subscription box experience. Tailor subscription box contents to delight customers.

Stitchfix is one subscription service that knows the power of personalization. Stitchfix sends clothes straight to its customers’ doorstep with each item carefully hand-selected based on consumers’ size, style, and price range.

Customers simply complete a style quiz, choose their frequency schedule, and they’ll receive personalized clothes as chosen by a personal stylist. Stitchfix shoppers can choose the items they want to receive from stylists’ recommendations or they can leave the choice down to the stylist.

Follow Stitchfix’s example by weaving personalization into your subscription box model.

How to start a subscription box business

Now we’re aware of the best practices underpinning successful subscription box models, let’s look at the steps you need to take to start a subscription box business.

Conduct market research

If you want your subscription box business to be a roaring success, you need to find a lucrative angle. Conducting market research will allow you to uncover consumer interests and identify gaps in the subscription box industry.

Get inside your target customer’s head to find out what they want from a subscription box. You can do this by speaking directly with customers, conducting market research surveys, or researching forums and competitor offerings.

Figure out what your customers want from a subscription box — is there a particular category or product type? How much are they willing to pay? How often do they want to receive the goods? Is it for themselves or someone else?

When conducting consumer research, remember there are typically three main reasons why people buy subscription boxes:

  • Replenishment – To save time and money by automatically replenishment repeat purchase items
  • Curation – To receive a curated selection of different items, designed to delight and surprise
  • Access – To gain access to exclusive opportunities, offers, and products with additional VIP perks

Analyzing the subscription box market will also allow you to identify which boxes perform exceptionally well, along with spotting any gaps that aren’t yet being fulfilled.

Take meal subscription kits for example. This category of subscription boxes is really popular. From child-friendly meal kits to healthy recipes and prepped meals, there’s an abundance of choices for anyone looking for a meal subscription box. With so many companies already offering this service already, you may struggle to make your brand stand out if you don’t have a great unique selling proposition (USP).

Identify opportunities in existing inventory

As well as scouring the subscription box market for ideas, you can also look for opportunities within your existing inventory.

If you already sell products, you should have a good idea of your consumer’s main interests. Whether you are a general merchant selling a wide variety of stock or you’re a specialist retailer who has niched down to one specific category, analyzing your existing inventory offers great insight into what your customers already enjoy.

First, review your popular products to see what items your customers purchase most. Next, look at what products people frequently buy together. Then use these insights to build curated subscription boxes based on customer interests. You could offer replenishment subscription boxes or curated collections related to the most popular products.

Don’t forget to also look at the slow-moving stock. Building subscription boxes also offers an opportunity to clear old stock. While these items may not sell so well on their own, they could make great additions to subscription boxes when positioned next to star products and best sellers.

Know your numbers

You should have a good grasp on your inventory, fulfillment, marketing and sales costs if you already sell products online. Knowing your numbers will allow you to dig deep into the financial viability of your subscription box idea.

When crunching numbers for your subscription box, remember to look at the costs of:

  • Presentation box
  • Mailer packaging and any packing materials
  • Shipping
  • Picking and packing
  • Printed materials
  • Products to be included in the box
  • Marketing

Consider every cost related to launching your subscription box and use those insights to work out your budget, price point, and potential returns.

Create a powerful unboxing experience

We’ve already discussed the power of presentation but we felt now would be a great time to reiterate the importance of creating an unboxing experience.

Think about what your customers will see when their subscription box lands on their doorstep. Consider how you can create moments of delight through packaging choices, design, print materials, and the small unexpected details throughout.

Review packaging suppliers and team up with someone who is able to bring your unboxing visions to life. You may be able to work with existing suppliers or you might want to expand your network by working with new packaging providers.

Map out the customer journey

Knowing how your customers interact with your brand will make sure you cater to them through every step of the customer journey.

The customer journey is made up of multiple touchpoints. It’s likely your customers will experience several of these touchpoints before making a purchase decision so you need to make them count.

Some touchpoints you need to consider when mapping out the customer journey are:

  • The very first interaction someone has with your brand
  • Product pages
  • The buying experience
  • Social media content
  • Online reviews
  • Post-purchase communications
  • Delivery experience
  • Follow-up communication
  • Ongoing interactions

Analyze each step of the customer journey and look at ways you can make customers feel appreciated and delighted. Focus on optimizing user experience at each stage to create an unforgettable experience for your subscribers.

Set up your tech

Offering subscription services often require more advanced tech capabilities than your standard eCommerce website.

Some eCommerce marketplaces and websites make it easy for retailers to offer subscription services. Shopify users can set up recurring payments so they can sell subscription products. Meanwhile, Amazon merchants can offer Subscribe & Save options for customers wanted repeat purchases of frequently-bought products.

Alternatively, you might want to set up a dedicated subscription platform. You can use a platform like Subbly to build an intuitive subscription website.

Other tech considerations to think about when launching a subscription product are an onboarding quiz, email campaigns, and a subscription app. While none of these are necessary to launch your subscription box, they could help you stand out from the crowd.

Birchbox, a subscription beauty box, lets customers build a tailored subscription box based on their answers to a beauty quiz. This tech feature is a great way to add layers of personalization to the subscription experience.

Nail picking, packing, and shipping

Shipping subscription boxes requires more attention to detail than standard customer orders. So, nailing your fulfillment strategy for picking, packing, and shipping orders is a crucial step when launching a subscription box service.

Ensuring subscription boxes go out in a timely fashion is an organizational masterpiece.

Take HelloFresh for example. Recipes will be shipped to subscribers on a weekly basis. Yet, not all subscribers receive the same products, nor do they all receive their subscription on the same date. Subscribers get to choose what recipes they want (or receive a random choice curated by HelloFresh) and they get to choose which day of the week they want their box to arrive. HelloFresh subscribers can also opt to skip boxes or add on additional recipes.

As you can imagine, a lot of thought and preparation goes into making sure each HelloFresh subscribers box goes out accurately and timely.

Make sure you have the resources and systems in place to seamlessly pick, pack and ship subscription boxes.

Market your subscription box

Finally, you can’t start a subscription box business without marketing. If you want to make sales, you need to invest in your marketing strategy.

Your subscription box marketing strategy should consist of pre-launch, launch, and post-launch marketing activity.

Before launching your subscription box, ramp up demand with sneak peeks and teasers. Create a waiting list so interested customers can be first to hear when the subscription box drops.

When launching your subscription box, invest in launch campaigns across social media, email marketing, and paid marketing channels.  Map out PR opportunities and out-of-home advertising too. Working with content creators and influencers is a great way to increase visibility and demand for your subscription box so pull together a roster of well-aligned influencers.

Marketing your subscription box doesn’t stop after the launch period is over. Ongoing marketing activity is key for ensuring your subscription box continues to grow month on month. Plan subscription box content into your ongoing marketing activity and consider creating subscription box-centered campaigns.

Other marketing activities could include designing a customized quiz, offering exclusive gifts and discounts, introducing a loyalty scheme, integrating reviews and social proof into your marketing content, or collaborating with other brands and creators on exclusive boxes.

Get creative with your marketing to create showstopping content that attracts, nurtures, and converts your target audience.

How to grow and scale your subscription box business

How to grow and scale your subscription box business

Launching a subscription box business is just one part of the puzzle. Once you’ve launched, you then need to hone in on strategies for growing and scaling your subscription box business.

New challenges will arise as your subscription box business grows. Learning how to maintain momentum is one of these challenges. Hitting a plateau is normal when launching a subscription business. But, with the right strategies in place, you can soar past the plateau and secure healthy subscription rates.

Grow and scale your subscription box business by investing in these activities.

Tap into customer needs and interests with surveys

Want to know what subscribers love about your subscription box? Ask them! The same goes for understanding what grinds their gears.

Use customer interviews and surveys to find out where your customers’ needs, interests, and challenges lie. Speaking with your subscribers is the best way to find out how you can deliver even more value with your subscription box.

Ask for feedback

Feedback is valuable so be sure to ask subscribers for their thoughts and opinions.

Make it easy for customers to leave feedback in post-purchase surveys or product reviews.

Other shoppers can use this feedback to make informed purchase decisions about signing up for a subscription box. Your marketing team could also use feedback as part of their marketing strategy to demonstrate customer satisfaction. Meanwhile, product development teams can use feedback to optimize and improve future subscription boxes.

Optimize your inventory

Opportunities are all around you —- especially in your warehouse. Grow your subscription box business by optimizing your existing inventory.

Improve inventory turnover rates by finding ways to turn your inventory into subscription box opportunities. You could create mystery boxes containing surplus stock or create exclusive seconds boxes where customers can get products with minor defects at a discounted rate.

Optimizing your inventory doesn’t mean clearing old stock. You can also strategically order new stock from suppliers to gain preferential rates. Order high-volume stock for items you plan to include in subscription boxes, saving money and ensuring you have enough items to fulfill subscription box orders.

Outsource fulfillment to an experienced partner

As your subscription box business grows, staying on top of orders can be hard work.

Working with a subscription box fulfillment partner may be just what you need to optimize subscription box fulfillment.

At MyFBAPrep, we can manage the prep and fulfillment of your subscription box orders, ensuring everything goes out as expected and building customer trust. Meanwhile, you can focus on other areas of your business such as planning the next subscription box contents to wow your subscribers.

Create an engaged community of subscribers

Your subscribers fuel the success of your subscription box business. Without those subscribers, your business model wouldn’t exist. So, how can you create an engaged community of subscribers?

Engage with them!

Show your subscribers you genuinely appreciate them by engaging with them consistently. Create an exclusive group for subscribers and release content that is for their eyes only. Interact with their posts on social media and forums, reshare content they post about your brand, and send them frequent emails.

Building a genuine connection with your subscribers is a surefire way to maintain long-standing customer lifetime value (LTV).

Develop a referral program

Reward subscribers for their loyalty by developing a referral program. A well-designed referral program incentivizes existing subscribers for spreading the word about your subscription box.

If you want to acquire new subscribers and grow your subscriber rate, create a referral program. By doing this, your subscribers will inadvertently become your marketing team. They will spread the good word about your subscription box in hopes of receiving something in return. You can offer subscribers rewards such as money off their next box, exclusive discounts, or free gifts whenever they refer a friend who also signs up.

Referral programs can lead to rapid subscriber growth so this is one strategy you don’t want to overlook when scaling your subscription box business.

Wrapping up — start your subscription box business today

Subscription boxes are a lucrative opportunity for online retailers looking to increase their bottom line and generate high levels of customer satisfaction.

Build a subscription box business today if you want to deliver outstanding experiences for loyal subscribers. Before starting your subscription box business, take time to look at market opportunities so you can craft a powerful solution for your target audience. And don’t forget about that all-important unboxing experience.

Need a subscription box fulfillment partner to support the growth of your business? Get in touch to see how we can help you take your subscription box model to the next level.

What is 3DS (3D Secure) And How to Use It

What is 3DS Secure and how to use it

Unless you’re new to eCommerce, you’ll be aware of the business dangers of online fraud, and they aren’t going away anytime soon. LexisNexis’ 2021 study reported both the cost and volume of fraud are increasing significantly year-on-year, not the type of growth we want to see.

Security systems like 3DS are vital to combating fraud. This checkout process is a requirement for eCommerce stores selling in Europe (including the U.K.). Yet, the path to 3DS implementation hasn’t always been smooth-sailing.

Here, we take a look at the importance of 3DS and how merchants can use it. We will also be sharing actionable steps to reduce the risk of failed transactions or abandoned carts.

What is 3DS (3D Secure)?

3D Secure is an online fraud protection protocol. From your customer’s point of view, this means an extra step to verify their identity.

You’ve almost certainly experienced 3DS as a customer. Before completing your purchase, you have to enter another password, or agree to the transaction on a mobile app. This process helps prove it was you making this purchase, not a fraudster.

But what if you’re on the other end of the transaction? From a merchant’s point of view, the most important step is to enable 3DS. It’s mandatory for anyone selling into the European Economic Area (EEA), as well as other countries like India.

Putting legalities aside, setting up 3DS is a sensible step to take wherever you’re selling. As WorldPay clearly states, not enabling 3DS will result in declined transactions, losing you valuable business.

3DS stands for Three-Domain Secure. This refers to the data shared between the three domains involved at checkout: the customer’s bank sending money, the merchant’s bank receiving money, and the infrastructure in between (the internet, website, server, and so on).

You may see references online to ‘3DS2’. The ‘2’ merely signifies the newest version of 3DS. For example, as explains, this newest version allows for ‘dynamic authentication methods’ like biometrics (such as FaceID on your iPhone), providing even tighter protection against fraud. Other advantages of 3DS2 include improved design and two different authentication flows.

How 3DS protects your eCommerce store and customers

How 3DS protects your eCommerce store and customers

There are a lot of ways that implementing 3DS can protect you, the eCommerce store owner, and your customers.

Protecting eCommerce stores and customers from fraudulent activity

Picture this: a fraudster enters the details of a stolen bank card at checkout. Instead of immediately being able to purchase the item, they’re challenged to prove their identity. They’re unable to provide the extra password or dynamic authentication so the purchase is declined.

In the above scenario, everyone benefits (except, of course, the fraudster). The eCommerce business doesn’t lose revenue to fraudulent activity. Consumers benefit because their bank details aren’t illegally used. Banking partners of all involved spend less time and resources investigating and compensating fraud.

Minimizing chargebacks for eCommerce stores

A further financial benefit to eCommerce stores is the avoidance of ‘chargebacks’. Chargebacks happen when a cardholder disputes an unrecognized payment on their bank statement. This ‘dispute’ costs banks non-refundable fees, which are passed on to the merchant. Plus, the merchant may also have to return any money taken in the transaction.

3DS (specifically 3DS2) protects your eCommerce store against chargebacks.

As Judopay explains, 3DS2 reduces chargebacks by shifting liability. Instead of the merchant paying chargeback costs, liability is shifted to the customer’s bank because 3DS2 enabled them to check the customer’s identity. In other words, it’s not the merchant’s responsibility if a fraudulent transaction was checked by 3DS2.

Improving customer loyalty

Aside from the technicalities of declined authorizations and chargebacks, 3DS has huge potential benefits for customer loyalty. Shopping from a website that uses fraud prevention like 3DS is a sure sign that the store takes financial security seriously — a sure-fire way to increase potential customer trust.

Trust is a big game in eCommerce. The World Economic Forum points out that it’s often harder for suppliers to gain consumers’ trust online compared to offline. This challenge increases when a merchant is in a different country from the customer.

In a survey by the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), 22% of consumers said they don’t shop online. Almost half of those non-online shoppers said it was because of a lack of trust. When asked what online behavior changes people were making, 12% responded ‘making fewer online transactions’, meaning lack of trust may also be preventing repeat customs as well as new business.

CIGI’s survey was run in early 2019 so we suspect the data would have changed since, especially given the consumer impacts of lockdowns. But it remains a fact that making your online store feel, and be, as safe as possible for all involved is a win-win situation.

How to use 3DS for your eCommerce store

You’re now clear on the benefits of 3DS. Whether it’s building customer trust or minimizing fraud, adding 3DS to your eCommerce store can offer great advantages.

So, how do you implement it?

Luckily, setting up 3DS is a relatively straightforward process.

The first step is to check whether your payment gateway supports 3DS. Chances are it will, especially if you’re using one of the main players. Worldpay, Braintree, N26, PayPal, and Stripe are all examples of some of the payment gateways offering 3DS.

If your payment gateway doesn’t support 3DS or makes it difficult to implement the latest standards, it’s time to consider moving. Use this blocker as a chance to review your wider approach. Start by taking a look at our blog How to optimize your checkout process.

So now you’ve got a 3DS payment gateway. What next? We’ll use Stripe as an example.

Setting up 3DS with Stripe

Enable Stripe to automatically display 3DS in countries or areas with mandates or regulations such as Europe’s Strong Customer Authentication). While 3DS is optional in other countries, you can still use it as a way to reduce fraud.

Stripe lets you manually set parameters in the API so customers are prompted to complete 3DS authentication.

In fact, Stripe offers three default rules for dynamically requesting 3DS during the checkout process. These default rules make it easy to implement 3DS on your site.

When implementing 3DS, make sure the secure flow is displayed to customers throughout the transaction. If you are using Stripe, they will automatically do this.

Stripe will also automatically redirect customers to their bank’s website to complete authentication. Once the authentication is complete, customers will be sent back to your site. You can choose where customers land when being redirected back to your site so be sure to set this as your order confirmation page.

While you can’t choose what 3DS looks like, you can decide how and where it will be shown on your site. Most merchants opt for a modal dialog above the payment page.

As with most payment gateways, Stripe uses 3DS2 as the highest standard in preventing fraud. However, if the customer’s bank can’t support that protocol, it will ‘fall back’ to the original 3DS with its more static, yet still protective, features.

Payment gateways are vying for business like the rest of us, so their websites and documentation are helpful. Check out the nitty-gritty details of Stripe’s 3DS process here.

The impact of 3DS in Europe

As we’ve touched on above, 3DS is mandatory in Europe. This requirement of 3DS in Europe came into effect following the phased implementation of the revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2).

The European Commission proposed PSD2 back in July 2013. However, the final compliance deadline wasn’t until December 31 2020 for Europe. The U.K. had an extension until September 2021 due to Brexit.

All this means that 3DS is relatively new to Europe. With the newness of 3DS in Europe come many tales of teething issues. When 3DS first came into effect, we saw stories of merchants experiencing increased rejection rates after implementing 3DS.

The main reasons why 3DS transactions fail

The main reasons why 3DS transactions fail

To better understand the impact of 3DS and the issues merchants may face, we need to remember that there are three main reasons why 3DS transactions fail. These are:

  • Fraud – as discussed, the ‘payer’ is unable to verify their identity due to not being the legitimate card holder
  • Abandonment – customers find the 3DS process too taxing, and abandon checkout
  • Transaction failure – technical issues mean that checkout doesn’t complete

This third reason is especially frustrating for all involved, as no party (merchant, customer, or bank) gains anything from the situation. By constantly reviewing your site performance and keeping an eye open for potential issues, you can minimize the risk of 3DS payments failing due to transaction failure.

In addition, work on your cart abandonment rate to identify ways to speed up the checkout process and reduce abandonment rates. We will cover how to avoid this below.

The reasons behind technical issues are wide-ranging. The Mastercard Payment Gateway support site lists some of the potential issues that are within the merchant’s control – branding of iframes, month formatting, and descriptions, to name a few. As you can see, there are many things you can be doing to reduce 3DS technical issues.

With that said, transaction failures are sometimes caused by the customer’s bank which eCommerce stores have very little sway over. In these cases, you simply have to be patient and understanding. And hope that your customer will return once the issue has been resolved at the bank’s end.

As Vlad Macovei wrote on The PayPers in October 2020, “it is known that issuers are more ready in some countries than in others” and this readiness is evident in 3DS performance. Fraud prevention company Ravelin analyzed millions of payments and found a huge variation in how the top twenty global banks performed. According to Ravelin, acceptance rates ranged from 68-92% between the top 20 global banks. As Ravelin’s research was conducted in 2021, we would like to hope that many of these issues have been since been resolved as banks work on their 3DS compatibility.

Macovei’s warning was further proven when different countries experienced hugely different failure rates after implementing PSD2. According to dynamic payments company Forter, the U.K. (which was known to be more prepared) experienced a 9% failure rate. While 9% is still a significant chunk of potentially missed revenue, it pales in comparison to France’s 71%.

The good news is that, according to Forter, “over 80% of the transactions that fail are the result of abandonment and issuer bank failure. This means that many of these failures could have been prevented.”

How to mitigate the risks of 3DS

eCommerce sellers can’t do much about customers’ banks. As 3DS has now been mandatory since December 2020 in Europe, many banks have made vast improvements to their 3DS performance. We suspect that if Ravelin ran their study today, they would find much-improved acceptance rates.

Asides from technical issues on the bank’s side, there is plenty in your control regarding 3DS failure due to cart abandonment.

Educate customers

Firstly, educate your customers. Tell them about 3DS before they reach checkout. It’s not exactly the most riveting of information, so publish little signposts everywhere that people might notice: in product page footers, at the basket stage. You could even share more in-depth information about 3DS on your blog or social media pages so potential customers can read more if they wish. Educate them about the importance of fraud prevention, and they might just thank you for it.

Increasing education around 3DS and how it combats fraudulent activity could also work wonders for increasing your trust score.

Prioritize the user journey

Secondly, ensure the user journey from browsing to payment completion is smooth regardless of the device used. Test your website flows and ensure your payment gateway provider is as well integrated as possible across different mobile and desktop devices.

Be sure to continually test performance too. If you’re seeing a high volume of cart abandonments, it just may be a sign that something is broken. So, routinely test the 3DS is performing as expected and fix any issues as soon as they arise.

Switching to 3DS2, rather than 3DS, can also improve the user journey. 3DS2 introduces Frictionless Flow which allows issuers (banks) to automatically approve transactions deemed to be low-risk. This automatic approval reduces the number of steps required to complete the payment.

Prepare to fail

Thirdly, prepare to fail.

While telling you to get ready to fail isn’t the most inspiring advice we’ve shared,  it may be the most useful.

What do you want your customer to do if their 3DS transaction fails? Contact you? Try again?

By preparing to fail, you’re putting assurances in place to help customers seamlessly move forward from a payment failure. You are providing solutions long before problems arise.

You could add a section to your payment FAQs about the next steps customers should take in the event of 3DS failure. The Trainline has a great example of this on their site from 2018 when 3DS failure was much more common.

Trust the process

Finally, take comfort in the fact that the latest version of 3DS was designed to be an improved protocol, even if it had a somewhat rocky start in some areas. All tools, services, and products experience problems in their early days. You, more than anyone else, can likely relate to the need to reiterate designs and improve product quality. It’s all about testing and improving.

As 3DS becomes more and more commonplace, we suspect that the 3DS implementation will become easier, connections with payment gateways will become more seamless, and technical issues will be minimized.

Removing common pain points such as static passwords can simplify the user experience too. As we know, simplifying the user experience can help improve cart abandonment rates.

Your next steps for 3DS eCommerce

With all these variables and actions to take, we’d understand if 3DS was beginning to sound like a headache – but we encourage you to think of it as an opportunity to improve eCommerce security for your customers.

Implementing 3DS will make your presence safer, more welcoming, and, ultimately, more profitable. After all, if customers don’t believe your checkout process is secure they are more likely to drop off without completing their purchase.

Ultimately it is up to you as a merchant whether you decide to implement 3DS. But in a world where eCommerce is only getting more competitive, it makes sense to grasp the advantages — especially when they overlap with preventing fraud and improving consumer trust.

The Ins And Out of Headless Commerce: What it Means For Growing Brands

The ins and outs of headless commerce

With eCommerce now tipped to reach $1 trillion in 2022, an acceleration of two years, and 95% of orders expected to be completed online by 2040, the eCommerce market is the place to set up shop.

As the market continues to change rapidly, headless commerce is becoming a must for brands who want to remain competitive, attractive to customers, and scale their revenue. But the term “headless commerce” isn’t well known outside the programming and coding spaces, yet it plays a huge role in the eCommerce world’s shakeup today.

In this post, we’ll clarify headless commerce and how it operates. We’ll also cover some benefits you can look forward to when you go headless and some pointers for success on your journey.

What is headless commerce?

While the name conjures up images from scary movies, rest assured, headless commerce is a bonafide tech term.

Headless commerce consists of an eCommerce solution where the front end, dubbed the “head” is separate from the backend. For instance, under a headless commerce setup, the customer-facing shopping interface is split up from the background tools and operating systems.

You can distinguish headless commerce from traditional commerce by looking at the characteristics. Traditional commerce adopts a rigid structure where the front and backend combine with coding and programming. It requires input from an IT team to make the slightest adjustment to your website interface or user experience.

A headless commerce store needs an effective fulfillment setup to match. Upgrade yours today.

How does headless commerce work?

A great example of headless commerce in action are solutions like Shopify and BigCommerce, which have set the stage for headless commerce for growing brands.

How headless commerce works is you upload and edit a theme or template with photos, text, layouts, and other customization features on the front end. The distinctive trait is that you won’t have to touch backend features like dashboards, order management, shipping tools, stock counting functions, and SEO management tools.

Don’t delay your eCommerce takeover any longer. Get ahead with MyFBAPrep.

7 ways headless commerce up-levels your brand

Perhaps your store runs on a custom-built program requiring developer input for updates, or you sell on an online marketplace and want to branch out to your own site. Either way, headless could be your next best action. Let’s examine some ways going headless can help your business reach new heights:

  1. Reduced admin and maintenance costs: No more paying out for programming and developer hours each time you want to tweak your eCommerce site. All you need to do is make an API call or edit in-line on your website’s interface when armed with a headless commerce infrastructure.
  2. Design flexibility and freedom: No coding background? No problem! Headless commerce is built with non-coders and business agility in mind. For example, you can customize your website to fit your goals and brand, from its content to the design.
  3. Uplevel customer experience: Shoppers’ wants and needs, along with market trends, are continually changing. It’s vital your store does the same quickly to get the lion’s share of sales. With headless commerce, you can take more risks and experiment, knowing you can return to previous settings without much hassle.
  4. Responsiveness that fuels your competitive advantage: With a headless commerce setup, you’ll have the necessary tools to outpace your competition. For example, you’ll speed up the time it takes to launch and test front-end elements, customer experiences, and interfaces.
  5. Take the pressure off your team: Having a laundry list of optimization tasks for your programmers and developers to tackle on top of their usual duties is no way to build morale. And, if it happens too many times can leave your team stressed and overworked, dragging productivity and business performance. Headless commerce releases your team to focus on core tasks to scale your business.
  6. Go omnichannel stress-free: Headless commerce system allows you to get more out of your existing store since you can disburse your content assets across different channels. This characteristic will increase how many markets you can tackle without multiplying your workload.
  7. Integrate with tools more seamlessly: Whether you need a countdown timer on your site or want to test a new design element, going headless will allow you to implement more tools without disrupting your existing store. As a result, you can optimize your site faster, increasing your competitive edge.

How to go headless for big eCommerce wins

As you go along on your eCommerce journey, it’s important to find ways to increase your odds of success and lighten your team’s administrative burden. That’s where going headless can be beneficial. It can help create more room to focus on growth-related tasks. But you’ll need a well-rounded plan to be triumphant in headless commerce. Let’s dive into the steps you should take to secure impressive results:

Decide whether going headless fits your business goals

To ensure investment in going headless is the best route for your brand, it’s vital to assess your business goals and needs. To put this into perspective, here are 3 eCommerce business scenarios to consider:

  1. Fast scaling eCommerce business: If you have a site with customer-facing content that changes constantly, it could be a good fit. Alternatively, you could adopt a hybrid approach to accommodate any complex customizations you can’t achieve with plugins, themes, or software.
  2. Steady growth B2B wholesale store: Say your store only requires a simple or static site that doesn’t require many updates or a sophisticated interface, switching from a traditional to a headless store may be futile.
  3. New eCommerce store ready to launch: If your store is yet to create a website and you’ve been selling in retail stores primarily. It may be wise to test the eCommerce waters with a headless store. This will allow you to pivot and keep costs low as you grow.

Select your eCommerce platform wisely

eCommerce platforms come in different shapes and sizes. Therefore, it’s essential to research each solution’s features and benefits before setting up shop. As a guide, some traits to look for in your chosen online selling platform include being able to:

  • Serve a headless commerce system
  • Easy to understand processes
  • Integrate with your fulfillment house’s tools
  • Offer on-hand support

Get the right team together

Your team’s skillset and willingness to adopt headless commerce will significantly impact the results you achieve going headless. It’s vital you sell the benefits of going headless to your core and executive team and utilize their skills in your new headless commerce store to breed confidence and a sense of mission. To conduct the switch effectively, observe each team member’s skill set and update their roles according, e.g., For example:

  • A UX designer can take care of user experience building and testing
  • A web designer can create banners and images
  • A marketer can handle content creation and copywriting
  • A programmer can create any advanced customizations you need

Understand the time and financial investments involved

While up-leveling business processes and systems are part and parcel of scaling an eCommerce business, you’ll want to avoid being blindsided by a deluge of work. So, take note of how much commitment the project will require to come to fruition, such as:

  • How easy or difficult it will be to migrate
  • The teams you need to involve
  • Tasks to outsource

Once you have this information, outline the steps you’ll need to take to move to headless commerce successfully and how much each will cost. Then create a timeline adding in buffers for unexpected charges and events.

Competition in eCommerce has never been fiercer. Discover how MyFBAPrep can give your store the upper hand.

Wrapping up – Get ahead without your head

In recent years headless commerce has caused a stir in the online selling world. But the question remains: To go headless or not to go headless? The answer is, that it depends. Your company goals, team workload, budget, and willingness to embrace change will determine whether going headless is the best option for your store. Outsource to experts wherever possible so you can focus on scaling. Soon the project will have paid for itself, and you’ll be operating an online store that runs like clockwork, delights shoppers, and boosts conversions.

Kickstarting your headless commerce journey? Learn how MyFBAPrep can position your brand for success.

eBay Fulfillment: Everything You Need to Know

a checklist and money icons with a magnifying glass

Debating an eBay debut for your brand? If so, it’s easy to see why. With over 159 million users and 19 million sellers plus $10.4 billion in revenue in 2021, eBay holds a world of opportunity for ambitious eCommerce entrepreneurs.

When competing in such an expansive marketplace, it’s vital to stand out and make a memorable impact in your target customer’s world. That’s where your fulfillment setup comes in. With the right approach, your brand can wow its customers and rise to the top as one of eBay’s top performers.

But how do you go about crafting an effective fulfillment strategy? In this post, we’ll dive into eBay’s latest fulfillment service and share some simple tips for huge success on this titan marketplace.

Want to scale your eBay store? Learn how MyFBAPrep can help.

Does eBay have a fulfillment service?

If you’ve never heard of eBay’s fulfillment service, you’re not alone. Despite being tipped to be a rival to Amazon FBA, the service has flown under the radar.

The fulfillment solution called eBay Fulfillment by Orange Connex is a relatively new service. It launched in the US in July 2019 before expanding services in Germany in 2020 and adding a fulfillment option for the UK in late July 2021, and Australia in February 2022.

This isn’t eBay’s first rodeo in a fulfillment-related project. In 2019, eBay created a fulfillment service called Managed Delivery but shut it down shortly after in 2020. These days eBay acts as a broker with a select few delivery partners, combining their prep and shipping services with eBay’s tech tools.

Got big growth goals for your eBay store? Discover how MYFBAPrep can make your goals a reality.

eBay Fulfillment by OrangeConnex services and fees: How it works

eBay Fulfillment by OrangeConnex services and fees: How it works

Like most prep and shipping providers, eBay Fulfillment by OrangeConnex has rules, processes, and fees you’ll need to get accustomed to for a successful partnership. Let’s explore some essential details:

Onboarding process

To get accepted and enrolled in the eBay Fulfillment by OrangeConnex program, some steps you’ll need include:

  • Sign up to register your interest in the service, and an eBay rep will call to discuss your fulfillment needs.
  • Choose a fulfillment partner from the lineup.
  • Prep goods for shipping into the warehouse or request assistance with this task.
  • Send goods to the specified warehouse.

Storage and shipping processes

Once your goods are in eBay’s fulfillment network, you’re ready to start shipping goods. The partner fulfillment company will take responsibility for tasks such as:

  • Picking, packing, and shipping
  • Providing delivery updates
  • Processing returns

Fulfillment fees

eBay will invoice your business according to the fulfillment services you use. Fees for eBay’s fulfillment service consist of 3 parts:

  1. Fulfillment service fee: a flat fee for each order according to the package weight, and if it has more than 1 item, you’ll incur an extra charge per piece
  2. Storage fee: For every cubic meter your products require, you’ll be charged daily
  3. Additional services charges: From product labeling to disposal, you can pass on prep-related tasks and will incur charges depending on what service you use.

There’s never been a better time to level up your eCommerce store. Get started with MyFBAPrep.

Pros and Cons of eBay Fulfillment by Orange Connex

For many brands, eBay Fulfillment by Orange Connex will be a much-anticipated saving grace. However, the service isn’t perfect. To help decide whether eBay’s fulfillment partnership is right for you, let’s examine some of its pros and cons:

Benefits of eBay Fulfillment by Orange Connex

  • Attractive, customer-focused shipping perks: Late cut-off times, same-day handling, international shipping, next day, and same-day delivery options are just a few perks eBay Fulfillment by Orange Connex offers. These benefits can positively impact your customer experience and boost conversions.
  • End-to-end inventory management: From the moment you send goods to eBay Fulfillment by Orange Connex, you’ll have full visibility of your stock’s whereabouts. As a result, you’ll have more peace of mind and the ability to plan stock purchases with greater accuracy.
  • Seller protection on errors: No more worrying about costly fulfillment errors. If eBay’s service is at fault, your brand won’t be penalized and will reimburse your business. You’ll also get performance-related boosts when you sign up. For example, eBay will wipe all “Item Not Received” notes on your account.
  • Multichannel fulfillment capabilities: eBay Fulfillment by Orange Connex allows you to fulfill orders on other platforms using your stock in their warehouses. This perk will reduce the capital and time investment your brand needs to sell across channels.
  • Gain shoppers’ trust with transparent delivery updates: eBay shares its service delivery up-to-date tracking and delivery information on orders. You can pass this on to customers to drum up excitement and reassurance.

Drawbacks of eBay Fulfillment by Orange Connex

  • Service quality could vary: The broker-like setup of eBay Fulfillment by Orange Connex could mean shipping service quality varies depending on your chosen delivery partner. This makes it difficult to know what service level your customers will experience.
  • Storage fees could rack up quickly, impacting your ROI: Since this program charges storage fees daily, you could end up with huge bills, especially if you send high volumes to the warehouse or have bulky items.
  • Your items may not be eligible for the service: Some items are prohibited by Orange Connex, which could render you unable to use their service. Some forbidden products include:
    • strong poisons
    • Biochemicals
    • Explosive items
    • Flammable liquids
    • Natural resources, e.g. plants
    • Fertilizer and raw materials
    • Foods

4 tips for showstopping success on eBay

4 Tips for success on eBay

Whether you have a new store or have been selling on the eBay marketplace for years, there are some timeless and strategic moves you can make to improve your results. To get started, let’s break down a few:

1) Pick the right products

Your product selection can make or break your conversion rates on eBay. Therefore, it pays to keep a catalog that meets your target customer’s needs and reflects growing trends. Some steps you can take to uplevel your product portfolio:

  • Conduct research to find attractive goods your target customer is looking for.
  • Select items with high-profit margins to accommodate shipping and ad costs.
  • Monitor and adjust your prices according to market rates with a pricing tool to stay competitive.
  • Test different product bundles

2) Select the best fulfillment provider for the job

Getting your fulfillment processes right plays a huge role in success on eBay. But to ensure you have a profitable system, it’s vital your fulfillment provider is the best fit. So, assess your options against your business’ current growth stage and goals. Some additional pointers on what the ”best” fulfillment service looks like are:

  • Experience in eBay selling
  • Capacity to scale services up and down (fast)
  • Offers services that complement your targets
  • Is fairly priced

Top tip: Excellent shipping and return options combined with fantastic products can help you achieve the highly coveted and profit-boosting “Top Rated Seller” status.

3) Make your listing stand out

Your listings are your products’ stage. Ensure they don’t fade into the background by improving key aspects of your listings and splitting testing for continuous improvement. For some pointers, here are steps to take:

  • Optimize your listings: Combine SEO with high-quality images and product descriptions to display your items in the best light and make buying from your brand the best option. Also, test different listing formats, e.g. auction and fixed price, to find the optimal blend for your product portfolio.
  • Offer free shipping to attract shoppers: eBay states winning over hesitant shoppers and business growth as just a snippet of the benefits you can experience with free shipping. So, tweak your pricing to make free shipping possible and impress shoppers with fast options. Also, provide a generous returns policy to decrease friction in the buying process.
  • Price products low when launching products: To gain sales velocity and reviews, aim to price your new offers 10-33% lower than your intended future selling price and your competitors’ current asking price.
  • Drive your own traffic: To get more engagement on your listing, tap into organic traffic with social media and experiment with influencer campaigns and paid ads. Then split test with eBay’s promoted listing campaign. Nearly 16% of products on eBay have promoted listings, leaving many opportunities for your brand to get noticed.
  • Use good reviews to drive more sales: Utilize user-generated content in your social media and email marketing campaigns to attract shoppers to your listing.

4) Encourage buyer reviews

A review is so powerful it can determine whether a shopper buys from your brand or your competitor. So, make it a priority to secure reviews from buyers by providing an outstanding product and service, delivering on your promises, and shipping goods promptly.

You can also request an honest review from buyers via the eBay platform, and package inserts encourage buyers to contact you if they have any issues or concerns. Also, appeal negative reviews you can’t resolve with the customer. For example, say you ship the right product and the buyer mistakenly believes they received the wrong item and won’t remove the review, even after you’ve contacted them. You can contact eBay to request they remove the review.

Build a successful eBay fulfillment strategy

From handling shipping in-house to outsourcing fulfillment services, many options are available to take your eBay fulfillment from good to great. But to maintain customer satisfaction and a healthy bottom line, you must explore what fees your business can handle compared to the service level it requires and use it to guide your fulfillment strategy. Stay updated on your store’s fulfillment requirements as it scales, and be ready to upgrade when needed. Follow these tips and tricks, and it won’t be long before your brand outdoes its competitors and thrives.

Ready to level up your eBay store’s results. Partner with MyFBAPrep.

How to Take Your eCommerce Store Global

an ecommerce store on a laptop surrounded by shopping icons

Selling online allows you to reach a whole world of customers at your fingertips. If you’re only serving consumers in your town, region, or even country, you are missing out on valuable growth opportunities.

Expanding your eCommerce business into international markets is a potent strategy for scaling your eCommerce store and reaching even more customers.

At the same time, global expansion can be overwhelming. There are a lot of i’s to dot and t’s to cross as you navigate the various processes involved in taking your eCommerce store global. Thankfully, we’ve rounded up the steps on how to take your eCommerce store global.

The power of global eCommerce expansion

The rise of eCommerce has brought us all far closer, across oceans and islands. For eCommerce stores, it’s crucial to take advantage of the ability to sell internationally.

Global eCommerce is the process of selling your goods to customers in foreign countries. Unlike local eCommerce where you only sell to customers residing in the same country as your store, global eCommerce lets you reach customers from all corners of the globe. Your reach will expand, and your sales will increase, allowing you to build loyal communities in exciting new markets.

While 2020 may have been a challenging year for many, the eCommerce industry saw unprecedented growth. Every market experienced double-digit growth, with Latin America having the largest growth at a 36.7% increase.

The growth trend doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon. Global eCommerce sales are forecasted to hit $5.5 trillion this year and surge past $7 trillion by 2025.

If those numbers tell us anything, it’s that a plethora of opportunities lie within expanding your store globally.

Other benefits of taking your eCommerce store global are:

  • Greater access to new customers
  • Shorter sales cycles
  • Improved product-market fit
  • Building your international presence
  • Easier expansion into new markets
  • Decreased sales and support costs

Plus, most eCommerce platforms, marketplaces, and storefronts have made it easier than ever to sell in foreign countries. Global expansion really is just a few steps away for your eCommerce store.

Steps to taking your eCommerce store global

International eCommerce expansion isn’t a case of clicking a button and watching the global sales roll in. Expanding your store globally requires careful planning, expert partners, and a few handy tools.

Research the market — is there a good product-market fit? Who are your competitors? How can you increase visibility? There are a lot of questions to answer before expanding your eCommerce store.

From finding the perfect fulfillment partner to navigating taxes and localizing your eCommerce strategy, we’re sharing key steps to follow when taking your eCommerce store global.

Identify and analyze target markets

Before diving straight into selling your products everywhere and anywhere, do your research. Identify the markets you want to expand into and analyze potential performance.

After all, there’s no point in investing in a new market, if you won’t be able to reap the rewards.

Analyze the target markets you are most interested in by looking at:

  • Product-market fit
  • Any potential restrictions or limitations to cross-border selling
  • eCommerce market research
  • Competitors
  • Keyword research

The above data will all give you valuable insights into the potential growth opportunity in your chosen market. Repeat this research for each of your chosen markets and, where possible, speak to potential customers directly through audience surveys and interviews.

Find an international fulfillment partner

Shipping to international customers from your country of origin will quickly get expensive.

Reduce shipping costs while speeding up deliveries by working with an international fulfillment partner.

Your eCommerce fulfillment partner should be equipped to handle international warehousing and storage. Utilizing warehouse facilities close to your international customers will reduce shipping costs, improve efficiency, and minimize delivery windows. At MyFBAPrep, we work with a network of warehouses, handling multi-warehouse fulfillment set-ups for eCommerce and DTC merchants.

We’ll store your products, manage shipping, and do all of the quality checks you’d expect from a fulfillment partner. We’ll even scale alongside your business, growing your warehousing and storage needs as your business grows. Not forgetting, unexpected roadblocks will become a thing of the past as we seamlessly manage item prep and delivery from our international network of warehouses.

Get a tax calculator on your website

Taxes, import duties, and customs charges — the tax implications of selling across borders can get somewhat complicated.

Each country has its own tax rules and regulations for international imports. Before selling into another country, read up on the international laws and taxes such as import duties, tariffs, value-added tax (VAT), and other tax obligations.

Help customers understand the expected taxes by adding a tax calculator to your website. A tax calculator will minimize customer confusion and set expectations as they get a clear insight into how much tax they’ll pay on imported goods. You’ll be able to sell internationally and your customers will get upfront transparency on their orders.

Zonos is a great eCommerce tax calculator and best of all, it’s free. With Zonos’ tax calculator your customers can get estimated taxes and duties whenever they add an item to their cart. This way, they won’t get any nasty surprises when their order arrives.

Add a translated version of your website

Give international customers a localized experience by adding a translated version to your website.

In 2021, $3.33 billion in global eCommerce sales came from non-English speaking countries highlighting the need to set up a multilingual site that is accessible (and readable) by people outside of your native country.

Translating your site to multiple languages doesn’t have to be a giant feat either. Several apps will automate the translation process for you or you can hire a native speaker to translate your content.

We recommend working with a native speaker for key pages where accuracy is crucial. While translation apps are great, they aren’t 100% error-free. So, where possible, work with a native speaker to either translate your content or edit your translated pages.

Localize your website

Localization is not to be confused with translation.

Translation, in its simplest form, focuses on converting the language of your site’s content into the new target language. Meanwhile, localization adapts every aspect of your eCommerce site to create a user experience that is a perfect cultural fit for your new target market.

Localization takes the site appearance, flow, and features into consideration, changing these to suit the target country. Localizing your eCommerce site will make customers feel at home, wherever they are in the world.

Elements to consider when localizing your site include:

  • Ease of navigation and how people move through your site
  • Language and regionalism
  • Societal codes of humor, etiquette, and symbols
  • Images, videos, and graphics
  • Colors, shapes, and styles
  • Values and beliefs
  • Measurements, currency, and geographical references
  • Date and time formats
  • Contact information
  • Legal information
  • Payment methods

Localization is a fundamental aspect of any global expansion. Shopify’s eCommerce Market Credibility Study found that 47% of consumers said having a local presence was a significant factor in deciding which brands they shop from.

A further 52% of global shoppers are more likely to shop from a company with shared values. So, if you want to increase sales with a global market, you best be focusing on localization.

Offer multiple payment methods

Shoppers preferred payment methods will vary from country to country. If you’re planning to expand your store globally, take time to consider which payment methods you will offer to customers.

In the Netherlands, 61% of eCommerce transactions are made using iDEAL — a Netherlands-based bank transfer company. Meanwhile, the majority of online shoppers in the UK use Visa and Mastercard as their preferred payment methods.

Research the preferred payment methods in your target countries and update your eCommerce payment options accordingly.

Offer localized customer service

Set up localized customer service as part of your eCommerce global expansion strategy.

81% of shoppers say a positive customer service experience will influence the likelihood of them making another purchase, according to research by Zendesk. When customers reach out for support, it’s important that you do everything possible to minimize friction and frustration.

Language or cultural barriers, lack of local call centers, and anti-social contact hours could all play a role in maximizing customer frustration. Therefore, if you want to improve the user experience for international customers, you need to offer localized customer service.

Work with customer service teams in each of your target markets to ensure you provide customer support that takes cultural differences into account. Having native customer service agents for each of your target markets will facilitate communication, build trust and loyalty, and help both parties reach a suitable resolution faster.

Use an intuitive customer service platform such as Gorgias to manage customer service on an international level. Gorgias can detect up to 54 languages in support tickets, making it an ideal choice for global eCommerce stores wanting to deliver outstanding customer service.

Diversify supplier relationships

Working with local suppliers could mean the difference between running a global eCommerce store that generates money versus a global eCommerce store that eats into your profit.

The logistics of shipping products to your customers can be hard work if you aren’t working with local suppliers. Find international suppliers for your products and locate manufacturers who are based in your target markets.

Local suppliers will be more reactive than those who are farther away from your customers. Working with local suppliers will allow you to offer faster shipping times and potentially reduce production costs for some target markets.

Better yet, diversifying your supplier network will help your store stand strong in the face of disruption. If the COVID-19 pandemic taught us anything, it’s how fragile the supply chain really is. Working with multiple suppliers around the world will help reduce the impact of supply and demand shock, border closures, or other unexpected disruptions to the supply chain.

Develop market-localized marketing

Just as you need to localize your eCommerce store, you also need to localize your marketing strategy. When it comes to marketing your eCommerce store, you need to lead with a localized lens.

Adapt your marketing messaging, imagery, channels, and offers to suit each of the countries you operate in. The marketing campaigns that work for your US market may not necessarily work for European or Asian markets. So, tailoring your marketing is key to ensuring global success.

Not doing your marketing research could have severe consequences for your brand. Take the American beer brand Coors, for example. Their “Turn It Loose” campaign worked wonders with their US customers. Meanwhile, its impact went down the toilet (so to speak) in Spain. It turns out their “turn it loose” tagline loosely translated to “suffering from diarrhea” in Spanish — not an association you want to be made with a drinks company.

While the Coors example may be an extreme example of international marketing gone wrong, it highlights the importance of localizing your marketing messaging.

Localize your marketing strategy by working with marketers in your target markets and adapting marketing materials to suit each market. When adapting marketing material, go beyond translations by researching cultural and societal expectations in your target markets.

Remember to double-check those translations too — if it doesn’t make sense, come up with a new tagline that works best for your chosen country.

Humanize your brand per market and change imagery to suit your target audience. Work with local influencers in your target countries and localize any marketing photography or videos.

Offer favorable international shipping options

Finally, nobody wants to pay over the odds to receive their order. In their global shipping survey, BigCommerce found that 77% of global shoppers had abandoned a purchase due to unsatisfactory shipping options.

The “Amazon effect” has undoubtedly put pressure on global merchants to offer fast and affordable shipping options to customers around the world. Give your eCommerce store a competitive edge by offering favorable international shipping options.

Team up with an international fulfillment partner and work with shipping providers local to international customers. Give customers a choice of shipping options so they can choose the shipping rates, lead times, and providers that they prefer.

Be transparent about shipping prices too. Make sure customers can see the true cost of purchase before they checkout by sharing estimated taxes and import duties for their order.

Wrapping up — Scale your eCommerce store with global expansion

Expanding your eCommerce store globally presents an exciting opportunity to scale your business and connect with customers around the world.

Selling in other countries may be a whirlwind adventure but once you get your head around the key strategies for globalization, you’ll be ready to take on the international markets. Be sure to do your research and localize your store to really prepare it for global success.

For more insights on how to grow your eCommerce store, read this blog article where we share our 5 favorite ways to scale your eCommerce business.

Wish Fulfillment Fees, Rules, and Requirements

a checklist in a browser surrounded by money and shopping icons

Over 107 million monthly users in 2020, $2.54 billion in sales, and more than 2.4 million daily orders. These stats represent just a few of the impressive wins the online shopping behemoth Wish has achieved.

As Wish’s momentum gathers pace, the exciting growth opportunities it offers to eCommerce businesses are undeniable. The best part is, that success is for the taking on this platform for brands who understand the lay of Wish’s fulfillment land. But with access to information on Wish’s fulfillment operations being limited for non-sellers makes it challenging to know what your responsibilities will be.

Don’t fret. In this post, we’ll uncover the essential details on Wish’s fulfillment fees, rules, and requirements to ensure your eCommerce business can build a profitable and compliant strategy. We’ll also share our no-nonsense tips for thriving on Wish.

Thinking about selling on Wish? Get your fulfillment process ready for the journey.

Shipping rules and requirements on Wish: The lowdown

If there’s one area that decides whether your brand gets and stays in Wish’s good books, it’s fulfillment. Wish goes as far as to rank fulfilling orders “promptly and accurately” as a merchant’s “number one priority” once they’ve secured a sale.

Therefore, it’s crucial you stay updated on the terms of service, especially those relating to your shipping duties as a seller. Why? Customer experience. Wish cares about how shoppers feel about its brand, from the products sold on its platform to returns.

On Wish, you can choose to self-fulfill in-house or partner with a Wish fulfillment provider. But if you opt to take on fulfillment, you’ll have some shipping rules to observe.

If you trip up in following any of these rules, you’ll get what Wish calls an “infraction” recorded on your account. One too many can lead to Wish suspending or even terminating your account. Here are a few key rules you’ll need to observe. You must:

  • Fulfill orders within 5 calendar days.
  • Confirm orders within a set time (with 168 hours for orders under $100.00 and 336 hours for orders over this amount (Shipping costs included).
  • Use authentic tracking numbers only.
  • Use WishPost as your carrier if you fulfill orders from Mainland China.
  • Not cancel or refund an order before confirming fulfillment.

Need a fulfillment provider that “gets” Wish? MyFBAPrep has got you covered.

Outsourced vs in-house Wish fulfillment

Outsourced vs in-house Wish fulfillment

If you aren’t sure whether you want to outsource your Wish fulfillment or handle orders in-house, let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons.

In-house fulfillment benefits:

  • Lower storage fees: If you have an in-house warehouse, you control your storage fees. This means you don’t have to pay 3PL warehousing or long-term storage fees, which can quickly add up.
  • More control: Since you have full control over your in-house fulfillment operations, you can oversee every step of the process; from order tracking to prep, all the way to last mile-shipping.

Outsourced fulfillment benefits:

  • Hassle-free fulfillment that helps you scale: Outsourcing fulfillment can make selling on the Wish marketplace swift and simple when used correctly. You’ll then be free to dedicate your time to other important tasks that’ll grow your business.
  • Gain a competitive edge with Wish Express benefits: The right fulfillment partner can help ensure fast shipping. Once your business qualifies for Wish Express, a 2-day shipping guarantee, your listings will get a conversion-boosting orange truck symbol that alerts shoppers that your product is on the Wish Express program.
  • Leverage fulfillment across multiple marketplaces: Your fulfillment partner can support you as you expand your business to different sales channels, such as Amazon and a direct-to-consumer store. Using a trusted 3PL can help you manage your inventory for services such as Fulfillment by Amazon and more.

Don’t wait for the right time. Set your store up for the win with top-notch fulfillment now.

Straight talking tips for a successful selling journey on Wish

Straight talking tips for a successful selling journey on Wish

To hit it big on Wish, you’ll need a rockstar plan and flawless execution to stand out from the crowd. But you’re likely wondering how and where to get started.

Partner with an experienced fulfillment service

Joining forces with a reliable fulfillment solution is vital. You’ll not only gain more flexibility in your business operations but also peace of mind knowing the most critical task on your Wish to-do list is in safe hands.

However, it’s important to remember that Wish has many rules with costly consequences for non-compliance. So, your chosen fulfillment provider should:

  • Have significant experience in managing Wish orders
  • Integrate their tech with your Wish store seamlessly
  • Make speed and accuracy a priority in your fulfillment process
  • Have a deep understanding of Wish’s rules and requirements for fulfillment
  • Handle shipping and returns efficiently

Optimize your inventory

Keeping your inventory organized on the shelves and digitally is a must to ensure your Wish store maintains optimal stock levels, dodges inventory-related issues, and delivers a great customer experience. Optimizing inventory should be an ongoing task. Here are some areas you can tackle to get started:

  •  Assign stock-keeping units (SKUs) to every product and variation for swift identification.
  • Arrange stock strategically so they are easy to pick and pack (if fulfilling internally).
  • Use inventory forecasting tools to predict demand more accurately.
  • Have backup units to avoid stockouts.
  • Stay on top of stock counts to avoid errors.

Turn your product listings into sales-generating machines

Your store will need a healthy conversion rate to make selling on Wish worthwhile. Luckily, product listings are your 24-7 sales vehicles that go to bat for your store in the ultra-competitive online market. Invest in your listing to ensure they shine. Some areas to improve include:

  • SEO: Conduct thorough keyword research periodically to discover new keywords to test in your product listings and ads to drive conversions.
  • Headline copy: Your headlines should be simple to understand, optimized with relevant keywords your target customer is searching for and used to describe your product.
  • Product descriptions: Sell the benefits your item provides the buyer to help them justify the purchase and reduce buyer’s remorse later on.
  • Video: Utilizing video can help increase product engagement and stats. 94% of marketers say video helped them increase dwell time on their product or service. So, create engaging explainer videos to increase the perceived value of your products.
  • Product branding (packaging and labeling): Your branding should be attractive, exude quality, and breed confidence and trust.
  • Reviews: Encourage honest reviews and photos from your customer to breed trust in site visitors and drive more sales. 79% of consumers say user-generated content affects their buying decisions.
  • Pricing: Competitive pricing is a must on Wish. So, conduct competitor research and use it to guide your pricing.
  • Product availability: On Wish, you can sell to more than 78 countries, opening huge doors for building your brand, sales, and customer base on a global scale. So work with your fulfillment provider to create a shipping strategy for each product category in your Wish store and update your listing to include the international shipping options you offer.

Wrapping up — Wish fulfillment fees and requirements

With a growing customer base and ironclad brand, Wish is a force to be reckoned with. But the kicker, with the right fulfillment strategy, a can-do attitude, and a willingness to pivot according to market needs, your store can piggyback off Wish’s success to win big. Combine this approach with great products, optimized listings, and enticing ads, and you’ll be well on your way to scaling your Wish store to new heights.

Looking for a way to stand out on Wish? Learn how MyFBAPrep can help.

What MOQ Means For eCommerce Sellers And Using it to Your Advantage

a woman with question marks above her head looking at an ecommerce website on a computer

If you work with suppliers or buy stock from manufacturers, you probably have experience with minimum order quantities (MOQs).

eCommerce sellers are often faced with MOQs when working with suppliers. Whether ordering boxes for shipments or restocking your product lines, suppliers often set MOQs you need to reach before ordering.

However minimum order quantities aren’t only reserved for supplier-seller relationships? You could set a MOQ for your customers too. Setting a MOQ for your eCommerce products could boost average order values, present wholesale opportunities, and get slow-stock moving.

Discover how you can use MOQs to your advantage as an eCommerce seller from both a supplier-seller and a seller-customer perspective.

What is MOQ?

The abbreviation MOQ stands for minimum order quantity. It’s the minimum number of units someone has to buy before they can complete their order.

As an eCommerce seller, this could be the MOQ you need to work with suppliers or it may be the MOQ you require from customers before they buy certain products. For example, your supplier might request that you purchase a minimum of 10 units when ordering.

The set MOQ could be applied to one product line or, in some cases, it could be redeemable against a variety of products. In the latter scenario, this is known as a minimum order value (MOV).

MOQs may be a set number based on units or price. Alternatively, MOQ may work on a tiered system whereby the more products you order, the more money you save.

You may set a MOQ of 10 units for one of your products but offer a percentage-based discount in increments of 50 units. So, buying 50 items would offer a cheaper cost-per-unit than buying 10 items.

eCommerce sellers can use MOQs to take advantage of buying products at scale. After all, the cost of mass-producing something is usually far cheaper than just producing one unit.

Setting product MOQs could also increase cart value. If your products have small profit margins, MOQs could ensure customer orders cover the product costs and provide healthier profit margins.

From a supplier-seller perspective, buying inventory items in bulk could reduce your individual product costs. MOQs can be a powerful tool for eCommerce sellers, as long as you know how to use them.

What MOQ means for eCommerce sellers

What MOQ means for eCommerce sellers

Setting a MOQ could be a game-changer for your eCommerce business. The most notable advantages of having a MOQ are that they offer a better price per unit and could result in an increased average order value.

Yet, that isn’t the only way MOQ impacts your business. As an eCommerce seller, MOQs can change the course of your business in more ways than one — making it more efficient and cost-effective.

On the other hand, complying with a MOQ from suppliers could result in higher up-front costs and a need for increased inventory space. Expecting customers to meet MOQ requirements could also turn some customers away if they only intend to buy one unit.

There are a lot of factors to consider when using MOQs as an eCommerce seller.

Here are some ways having a MOQ could impact your eCommerce business.

Supplier impact

MOQs could influence which suppliers you order from as an eCommerce seller.

You might have to be more selective about your chosen suppliers if your eCommerce business has a limited budget for inventory purchases. ECommerce sellers with limited funds may be limited to working with suppliers that don’t have any MOQ requirements.

One way to get around the financial limitations associated with MOQs is to pass the MOQ on to your customers. Encouraging customers to buy products in larger quantities could make it easier for you to buy larger MOQs from your suppliers.

Let’s say you sell stationery products. If your supplier requires a MOQ of 100 units for pencils, you could pass this on to your customers by setting a MOQ of five units for those pencils. Therefore, you only need 20 orders to meet the supplier MOQ as opposed to 100 orders without a MOQ.

MOQs may impact the suppliers you have access to. By being smart and passing the MOQs onto customers, you could gain access to better supplier MOQs and open up the pool of suppliers you could work with.

Average order value

Establishing a MOQ strategy for your online store could encourage higher average order values (AOV). Rather than buying just one or two products, customers will buy a product in larger quantities and, as such, your AOV will increase.

For instance, a DTC drinks brand might choose to sell cans of soda at a MOQ of 12 units per order. This would encourage a higher AOV as consumers will buy a set of 12 cans at once, rather than a single can.

Increasing your average order value will also help offset the cost of packing and shipping orders, making this a double advantage of using MOQs.

Retail and wholesale partnerships

If your eCommerce store has only ever worked on a direct-to-consumer basis, setting MOQs introduces the potential to establish strong retail and wholesale partnerships. This diversifies your store earnings by adding another arm to your eCommerce business. Plus, it will offer greater brand visibility as you get your product on more shelves, marketplaces, and eCommerce stores.

You could set up a wholesale area on your eCommerce site where retail partners and wholesalers can access exclusive discounts when purchasing set MOQs. You can use this strategy to get your products into more sales channels.

When setting MOQs for new retail partners, offer an introductory MOQ that is lower for their first order. This helps secure new retailers and wholesalers by allowing them to test product performance with less risk.

Adding a wholesale channel to your eCommerce business will allow you to sell products at larger volumes. While this may come at a discounted rate, the increased volume will mean more money in your pocket.

If you sell products to wholesalers for $10 per unit when they buy a minimum of 100 units, you would make $1,000 in one wholesale order.

Compare this to selling the same product direct to consumers for $20. The end customer may only want to buy one unit at a time, which would mean you would need to secure 20 orders. But you don’t know how long it will take to secure those 20 orders.

The wholesale route offers greater control over product inventory and supply. This allows you to sell more products at once to receive a cash injection into your business.

Be mindful of product costs when calculating MOQs for retail partners and wholesalers. Make sure you are not selling products at a loss by calculating costs of goods (COGS), inventory costs, demand, and the break-even point.

Bulk orders

Incentivize customers to buy higher product quantities by offering bulk order discounts. Offering bulk purchase discounts when customers buy higher quantities will also encourage larger order values making this a win-win strategy.

Presenting customers with multi-buy offers, bulk order options, and bundles is a smart way to introduce MOQs to your online store, without stating the obvious that it is a MOQ. Instead of seeing a product with a label that states “you must buy 10 units to order this item”, customers will see products that are already packaged up as a multi-buy offer.Cave Man Foods

A great example of this is Caveman Foods which offers nutrition bars in pre-determined bundles. There is no option to buy a single bar. Therefore customers have to buy the MOQ of 12 if they want to place an order.

Present multi-buy options as a way customers can save money. Offering a 20% discount when buying in bulk may be enough to incentivize customers to buy products with MOQs.

After all, your customers will get more products for their money, and you get more money from your customers.

Slow-moving stock

Breathe new life into slow-moving SKUs by adding enticing MOQ offers.

Every retailer likely has some product lines that didn’t perform as expected. You launched a new product confident it would rake in sales and then… nothing. If you have products gathering dust as they sit on your warehouse shelves, you could use MOQs to sell those SKUs and create space for new products.

Using MOQs to sell products at a reduced price will be far more cost-effective for your eCommerce store than paying to keep those products in inventory.

Set up a promotional MOQ for retail partners and wholesalers as a way to clear this slow-moving stock. The wholesaler may sell these products easier due to having a better product-market fit. In this case, you both win as you get to move dead stock and they get great new products at a reduced rate.

Alternatively, you could set a customer-facing MOQ to encourage customers to buy the product in bulk and save money. This works best if your product is a slow-mover due to being something people tend to bulk-buy.

For example, a coffee brand might find some of their coffee filters don’t sell very often because people prefer to buy in bulk. Adding a MOQ to your coffee filter products will entice people to look toward you for bulk purchase savings. You get to clear your slow-moving products and your customers get to stock their cupboards.

Consider the reasons behind slow-moving stock when deciding whether to go down the wholesaler or customer route. A wholesale partnership may be your best option if stagnated stock is due to the product not being a good market fit for your store.

Warehousing space

Working with MOQs means you will need more storage space for your inventory. Whether buying large MOQs from suppliers or planning to sell MOQ products to customers and retail partners, your inventory management process needs to be well-optimized.

Your inventory levels will naturally be high when working with MOQs as most of your revenue will be tied up in physical inventory assets. Purchasing products from suppliers at a high MOQ might result in you holding stock for longer, reducing your inventory turns.

Allocate adequate warehouse space for wholesalers and retail partners wanting to purchase high MOQs. Not having enough inventory space could result in products going out of stock due to not having enough inventory on hand.

Understand your demand and inventory reorder points and optimize inventory management accordingly. Appointing a third-party logistics (3PL) partner to support wholesale orders can minimize the risk of supply chain bottlenecks. Pass fulfillment to a DTC fulfillment partner so they can handle order prep while you focus on growing your eCommerce brand.

How to handle MOQs from suppliers

How to handle MOQs from suppliers

MOQ requests from suppliers can be daunting if you aren’t prepared to purchase large quantities of stock.

Many small eCommerce businesses are bootstrapped, meaning they don’t have a large footfall of cash to inject into inventory. If you are struggling with a supplier requesting high MOQs, research other potential suppliers and manufacturers to see if there is anyone with a lower barrier to entry.

There is also no harm in reaching out to the supplier to explain your situation. Let them know the MOQ you’re able to meet, your forecasted inventory turnover, and reorder frequency to see if there is room for negotiation on their requested MOQ.

US Trade Database

Research your competitors to see which suppliers they engage. This is a great way to find suppliers that already operate within your niche. It may also give you access to a broader range of minimum order quantities.

Tools such as ImportGenius’ TradeBase let you tap into a database of US imports. This tool is great for seeing which suppliers US merchants have worked with.

Be mindful of cash flow when working with suppliers that require a MOQ. While it may be tempting to succumb to high MOQs to receive greater cost savings, it’s not worth risking your current financial positioning.

Buying stock with MOQs results in your eCommerce business being asset-rich but cash-poor. So, don’t order more than you can realistically move. Also, be aware of how tying your money up in stock might impact the future growth of your store.

Finally, see if suppliers will let you “mix and match” the MOQ across various products if you are struggling to meet the MOQ for a single product. Rather than buying 1,000 units of one product line, ask if they would let you split the MOQ across three or three product lines. You’ll get a greater variety of products to sell to consumers and the supplier can move 1,000 units of stock.

The best advice we can give to handling supplier MOQs is to simply talk to them. Have a chat with suppliers to see what they can offer to ensure you have a cooperative long-term relationship.

Wholesale implications of MOQs

Adding a MOQ to your online store opens up the possibility of working with wholesalers.

Establish wholesale relationships by setting MOQs on your eCommerce site. These MOQs will ensure wholesale partners buy a certain quantity of stock to then re-sell through their sales channels. It’s a lucrative opportunity to diversity your eCommerce store.

It’s important to be mindful of inventory turnover when working with wholesale partners. If you expect wholesale partners to frequently buy a large volume of units, ensure you have products in stock ready for them to order. Calculate your inventory turnover to help accurately forecast inventory demand. This will ensure you always have the right amount of inventory on hand.

Setting up wholesale partnerships can also be a great way to meet supplier MOQ requirements. Bulk buy stock from manufacturers as per their MOQ, then split these units across your sales channels and resell to wholesale in smaller quantities. You could, for example, buy products from a supplier with an MOQ of 1,000 units. You could put 250 units aside for your sales channels. Then, sell the remaining 750 through wholesale partners at an MOQ of 250 units.

In the above scenario, wholesalers will get access to product lines at lower MOQ. This means there is less risk involved and you get to leverage supplier MOQs without sitting on excessive inventory.

Wrapping up — Using MOQ to your advantage as an eCommerce seller

Minimum order quantities can offer a unique selling advantage to eCommerce brands. From encouraging larger cart sizes from online shoppers to developing wholesale partnerships, MOQs have the power to enhance your eCommerce store’s return on investment.

MOQ on the supplier-side needn’t be an issue either when you find strategic ways to handle them. See MOQs as an opportunity to grow your eCommerce business and soak up all the advantages they have to offer.

10 Common eCommerce Scams And How to Avoid Them

a computer screen with an envelope and an exclamation point in the envelope

The world of online shopping brings a load of exciting opportunities for consumers. However, this presents a similar amount of opportunities for eCommerce scam artists and fraudsters.

The best way to protect your store and customers against eCommerce scams is to take preventative measures, keeping you one step ahead of fraudulent behavior at all times.

What is an eCommerce scam?

eCommerce scams encompass any type of fraud that takes place on, targets or impersonates an eCommerce site or platform. The COVID-19 pandemic saw a dramatic shift towards online shopping. As more and more people joined this shift, eCommerce fraud jumped 18% over the previous year and surpassed a total of $20 billion in losses.

The eCommerce ecosystem makes it easy for cybercriminals to get their hands on consumers’ card details, create convincing-looking eCommerce scams, and trick people into believing they are genuine, all while masking their identity. Compared to the pre-internet days, the ease and anonymity of eCommerce scams make it all too appealing to scam artists.

66% of consumers wouldn’t buy again from an online store where their account was compromised. Therefore, if your store is targeted by eCommerce fraud, you run the risk of losing customers and money.

The long-term impact of eCommerce fraud can be hard to recover from. Rebuilding consumer trust isn’t a fast process and lost revenue won’t materialize on its own.

Be vigilant and make sure you’re familiar with the common eCommerce scams that could impact your store and customers.

10 Common eCommerce scams to avoid

From brand impersonation to click fraud, chargeback fraud, and phishing, eCommerce scams are everywhere. Here are some common eCommerce scams, how to spot them, and the steps you can take today to protect your store and customers from fraudulent activity.

1) Brand impersonation

Brand impersonation is the name given to situations where someone pretends to be a trusted brand or company to trick consumers into disclosing personal information, including their bank account details.

This impersonation can come in many forms. Cybercriminals may use brank hijacking to impersonate a company email address, so they can send emails that look official. Alternatively, they may use service impersonation where they pretend to be part of a brand’s customer service team to glean sensitive and personal information from customers.

Brand impersonation can happen online, over the phone, by email, or even by postal mail. Therefore it’s important to remember that just because you’re an eCommerce brand, it doesn’t mean all fraud attacks happen virtually.

If you notice a brand impersonation attack circulating, take action immediately. Publicly address the spam and inform customers of how to recognize brand impersonation. Also, what to do if they suspect fraudulent activity.

2) Google Ads click fraud

Google Ads click fraud is an eCommerce scam that can significantly harm your bottom line.

Click fraud occurs when someone fraudulently clicks on your pay-per-click (PPC) ads to generate advertising charges that exhaust your advertising budget.

Google Ads click fraud can be committed by competitors, click bots, web crawlers, or click farms. Competitors may repeatedly click your Google ad to waste your budget so they can claim the number one advertising spot. Meanwhile, click bots, crawlers, and click farms are designed to click your ad thousands of times to deplete your budget and unnaturally inflate engagement.

It’s estimated that advertisers will lose over $100 billion globally to ad fraud by 2023. You could even be committing click fraud against yourself if you ever click your paid Google Ads link over the organic result in search engine results.

Thankfully, Google Ads has a robust anti-click fraud program in place to minimize click fraud occurrences. This program uses machine learning to detect and filter invalid clicks before advertisers are charged. You can also report suspicious activity to Google Ads for review.

To further prevent click fraud, we recommend setting up IP exclusions for suspicious IP addresses, being mindful of competitor activity, and adjusting ad targeting to remove any locations with a high volume of invalid clicks.

3) Card Cracking (AKA card testing or CNP fraud)

Also known as card testing or CNP fraud, card cracking is a credit card scam in which the scammer will use a person’s credit card information despite the card not being present (hence the abbreviation CNP).

Card cracking can weigh heavy on your bottom line. If a customer detects their card has been used on your site for CNP fraud, it’s your responsibility to reimburse them. This means you lose out on any product shipped during fraudulent transactions, plus the reimbursement that has to be made to the real customer.

You could be putting your customers at risk of card cracking if your eCommerce store doesn’t have security measures in place to protect their personal information. To protect your customers from CNP fraud, ensure sure your payment gateway provider requires their billing address and CVV verification to authorize their payment.

4) Phishing scams

Phishing happens when cybercriminals use emails, phone calls, or text messages to trick consumers into giving away sensitive information.

Customers targeted by phishing scams might unknowingly give away their passwords, memorable information, bank account details, billing address, or Social Security numbers. The tactics scammers use to gain that information vary, as does the activity they commit with them.

While phishing scams might change from time to time, there are some common signs you can use to recognize phishing scams.

Phishing scams tend to look like they’re from a known or trusted company. This could be a bank, credit card provider, or eCommerce store, for example. Phishing scams can look scarily real. Tactics used during phishing scams include:

  • Saying they noticed suspicious activity on your account
  • Stating that there is a problem with your account or payment information
  • Insisting you confirm personal information
  • Encouraging you to click a link to make a payment or provide personal information
  • Offering a coupon or offer

Protect your customers from phishing scams by making them aware of any currently active phishing activity and inform them of what signs to look for.

5) Chargeback fraud (or friendly fraud)

Chargeback fraud, or friendly fraud, is an eCommerce scam committed by customers. When committing chargeback fraud, customers will make a purchase with their credit card, then request a chargeback from their bank after they have received their order.

By contacting their bank, consumers can bypass the merchant and get their bank to reimburse them for the cost of the purchase.

Customers might intentionally or accidentally request a chargeback. Reasons for chargeback disputes include:

  • The customer is dissatisfied with their purchase
  • A customer doesn’t recognize the charge on their bank statement
  • The customer is expected a refund but hasn’t yet received one
  • A customer was charged more than once for a purchase
  • The customer intentionally requests a chargeback so they can get their money back and keep the purchase

Friendly fraud can harm your brand. From product loss to chargeback fees, revenue, and operational costs, there is a high number of costs associated with chargebacks.

6) Account takeover fraud

Account takeover fraud (ATO) takes place when cybercriminals impersonate genuine customers by accessing their eCommerce accounts and making unauthorized transactions.

Scammers committing account takeover fraud might use phishing or another type of fraudulent activity to gain access to customers’ login credentials. Once they have access, scammers can use the customer’s account to make fraudulent purchases. They will likely try to cover their tracks by changing the account information or password.

If you spot ATO, pause the transaction and investigate the situation by comparing the order information with previous transactions from the same customer. Monitoring account activity can help you identify any behavior that might indicate account takeover fraud.

7) Refund scams

Refund scams are similar to chargeback fraud except, rather than going to their bank, customers will request a refund directly from the merchant.

Customers committing refund scams will fraudulently request a refund by claiming the item was never received. Consumers will attempt refund scams because they believe they can get away with it. If they didn’t sign for a package, it can be hard for merchants to prove the customer received their order.

Thankfully, if you use a reliable shipping provider, you should be able to debunk refund scams by providing evidence that the customer received their order. From signature requests to taking a photograph of the customer receiving their parcel, you can collect proof of delivery that helps minimize the risk of refund scams.

8) Mail interception fraud

Mail interception fraud happens when cybercriminals place an order using another customer’s account and then after tries to intercept the parcel after the order has been made.

To start with, they’ll keep the customer’s original billing and shipping address. After the order has successfully been confirmed, the fraudster will attempt to redirect the parcel to their address. They might do this by contacting the merchant while pretending to be the real customer and asking them to reroute the package to a new address. Alternatively, they might bypass the merchant and go straight to the shipper to get the parcel rerouted.

Not allowing customers to change shipping information after placing an order will help minimize the risk of mail interception fraud. If a customer tries to change their shipping address after placing an order, inform them they can cancel their order and place a new order. This allows you to minimize the chance of cybercriminals committing mail interception fraud.

9) Triangulation fraud

Triangulation fraud is a complex eCommerce scam where fraudsters will set up an illegitimate storefront so they can steal the credit card information from any customers on their website.

These storefronts will look genuine and might even exist on reputable marketplaces and eCommerce platforms such as Amazon or Shopify. The storefront will likely sell high-demand products at low prices as a way to entice consumers to place an order. Once customers have placed an order, the scammer behind the storefront will use their credit card details to fraudulently purchase the products from another site, then send the goods to the customer.

The customer will think they are getting a good deal without realizing that they’ve actually paid for their order twice. Once when placing an order on the fake site. Then a second time when the scammer uses their card details to place their order with a genuine merchant. It can be damaging to your brand reputation if your eCommerce store is used as part of triangulation fraud. Customers will lose trust in your brand if they see your branding on shipments that have been delivered as part of triangulation fraud.

10) Affiliate scams

With many eCommerce brands using affiliate programs as part of their marketing strategy, there has been an increase in affiliate scams.

Affiliate scams happen when affiliate users fraudulently inflate their affiliate clicks or code uses to gain more commission from the brand. Consumers might use click farms to falsely increase their affiliate activity. They may also go against the affiliate policy by sharing their referral link on pages that will result in mass activity.

Affiliate scams can be prevented by using a reputable affiliate network that can detect spam clicks or suspicious activity. These networks will be able to recognize fraudulent activity and prevent merchants from unknowingly paying out for ingenuine behavior.

How to spot eCommerce scams

How to spot eCommerce scams

Knowing how to spot eCommerce scams is crucial for preventing your store from being financially impacted by fraudulent activity. The sooner you can spot eCommerce scams, the sooner you can take action to prevent fraudulent activity.

If you see any of the following behavior when a customer places an online order, it could be a sign that someone is trying to commit an eCommerce scam:

  • Conflicting customer information
  • Invalid contact details
  • Larger than average orders
  • Unusual purchase location
  • Multiple shipping addresses
  • Numerous transactions in a short timeframe
  • Multiple orders from different cards
  • Several declined transactions in a row

The best thing to do if you think your store has been targeted by an eCommerce scam is to put a hold on the order and immediately investigate.

How to prevent eCommerce scams

How to prevent eCommerce scams

Knowing how to spot eCommerce scams isn’t enough to protect your store and customers. You need to have strong preventative measures in place to stop eCommerce scams from ever happening in the first place.

Early detection + preventative measures = increased security against eCommerce scams.

Implementing high-security procedures on your store will protect your consumers from being targeted by eCommerce scams. Plus, it will help your store stand strong against fraudsters.

Some security protocols you should adopt include:

  • Following PCI Standards for card security
  • Developing a multi-level fraud prevention strategy (e.g. setting purchase limits, implementing returns policies, limiting how much customer data you collect, and using HTTPS, for example)
  • Deploying layers of security throughout your entire eCommerce tools and processes
  • Conducting frequent site security checks and updates
  • Analyzing device fingerprinting
  • Using an Address Verification Service (AVS)
  • Use a reverse social media lookup to see if the user has a social footprint
  • Implementing an eCommerce fraud prevention tool such as SEON or Riskified

The tighter your security protocols, the harder it will be for fraudsters to commit eCommerce fraud on your store. Implement as many fraud prevention measures as you can and make sure they work harmoniously together. Finally, routinely check and update your security measures. This ensures your store is always protected from the most recent types of eCommerce scams.

Wrapping up – Reducing eCommerce scams

Scrub up on your eCommerce fraud knowledge and put strong preventative measures in place to protect your store and customers.

eCommerce scams come in many different shapes and they are constantly evolving. Cybercriminals are always looking for new ways to deceive unwitting customers and merchants. Therefore, you need to make sure you fully understand how to spot eCommerce fraud. Also, what to do if your store or customers are targeted.

8 Common Reasons For Amazon Seller Account Suspension

Picture this. It’s early Monday morning. You open your laptop to check yesterday’s sales, but Amazon’s password firewall stops you. Your login details are no longer valid. Confused, you hover over to your email, and there it is – the dreaded message from Amazon support.

Amazon’s email states your selling privileges are revoked effective immediately. If this scenario sounds familiar, you’re not alone. In 2021, Amazon went on an infamous suspension spree which saw sellers with $1 billion in total revenue locked out of their accounts.

As you navigate a seller account suspension, the initial questions are what caused Amazon to suspend your account, and how can you get your prized account back? We’ve got you covered. In this post, we’ll reveal 8 common reasons for Amazon seller account suspensions and how to overcome them.

What is an Amazon seller account suspension?

An Amazon seller account suspension is when Amazon blocks you from selling on their platform for breaking one of their rules or failing to meet one of their many standards. This punishment damages your business and your listings as you’ll lose sales, rankings and decrease your IPI score.

In addition, your stock will take on an “unfulfillable,” and you’ll still incur storage fees for any inventory stored in Amazon’s warehouses. Amazon can also destroy your inventory once it’s had the unfulfillable status for 60 days.

An account suspension differs from an account termination, which signifies the end of the road for an Amazon seller. So, there’s still hope for getting your account back if you follow specific steps.

Did a fulfillment error cause Amazon to suspend your account? Discover how MyFBAPrep can prevent future recurrences.

8 common reasons for Amazon account suspensions

8 common reasons for Amazon account suspensions

An Amazon account suspension not only puts a roadblock in your eCommerce business’ growth but can also negatively affect your customer experience and reputation. Thankfully, this stressful situation can be resolved and avoided. To help you dodge the Amazon account suspension bullet, let’s look at some scenarios that can cause Amazon to take away your selling privileges:

1) Updating your banking details

A simple bank account update can leave you without an Amazon account. If Amazon feels your banking credentials don’t add up and you can’t provide the additional information, they can suspend your account.

2) Breaching Terms of Service

Maybe you manipulated Amazon’s algorithms, sent unauthorized Hazmat to FBA, used underhand tactics to get reviews, or launched an aggressive launch strategy that toyed with Amazon’s rankings. Breaking any terms of service will have you headed straight for suspension.

3) Providing a bad customer experience

Poor product ratings, high returns, and going out of stock dampen Amazon’s prized customer experience. If this occurs too often, you’ll have your account taken away.

4) Getting an additional account without permission

Amazon is super strict with its one-account policy. Therefore, if you don’t get written permission before you sign up for another account, you could walk away empty-handed.

5) You upgraded from sole proprietorship to a limited company

It’s hard to believe a simple change in company structure can result in an account suspension, but it’s true. Before you know it, you’re swept up into a storm of back-and-forth support tickets, requesting additional verification documents and information. If you can’t provide the requested details within the set time frame, your account is in jeopardy.

6) Glitches in the Amazon Matrix

Sometimes Amazon gets its chastisements wrong, and you pay a heavy price. For example, Amazon’s security checks and measures (algorithms) glitched suddenly, causing it to shut people’s prized accounts. Amazon has also closed accounts due to mistaken identity, believing the account holder violated the one account policy when in fact, another person with an Amazon account used their WIFI or laptop.

7) Inaccurate product description(s)

Whether you twisted the truth or made a genuine mistake, inaccurate descriptions are a huge no-no in Amazon’s books. Why? They can lead to higher return rates and an unsatisfactory customer experience, which Amazon would rather avoid. Amazon seeks to protect its interests with an account suspension.

8) Not providing complete invoices

Amazon expects every seller to upload accurate VAT invoices for their business customers swiftly after their goods ship. If you fail to meet this expectation, you’ll get a warning. But if you fail to meet this requirement again and your invoice defect rate exceeds 5%, you could be waving goodbye to your Amazon account.

Stay ahead of the game and build a competitive fulfillment strategy that plays by Amazon’s rules.

How to handle an Amazon account suspension

Lost your Amazon account? While getting your selling privileges back isn’t easy, it’s still possible. Here are the steps to increase the chances of getting your account back:

Keep calm and find the problem

First things first, don’t panic. Dig into the details to find out what went wrong. Analyze the email you got from Amazon. This information will help you craft a solid recovery strategy and avoid having your selling account revoked in the future for the same reason(s).

Be proactive. Unfortunately, Amazon customer support won’t be coming to your rescue any time soon. So, double-check any information they give you and look through Amazon’s seller central content.

Nail your Plan of Action (POA)

Amazon requires you to create a POA that states what went wrong and how you aim to resolve the issue(s) and prevent it from reoccurring. Here are some questions to answer in your POA to up your odds of getting your account reinstated:

  • What did we do wrong?
  • What actions will we take to rectify the problem(s)?
  • How will we strategize to prevent the issues from happening again?

Also, before writing your POA, understand what you need to do by reading Amazon’s POA guidance for the territory you sell in. From here, implement the following tips to sharpen your POA’s delivery:

  • Set the scene with a short introduction.
  • Keep your POA short, simple, and easy to read.
  • Acknowledge where you went wrong and avoid the blame game.
  • Focus on the facts and only include relevant information.
  • Provide evidence of your store’s positive performance.
  • Add a conclusion summarizing the actions you have taken to make things right.
  • Make a direct request for Amazon to restore your account.

For example, if Amazon closed your account because you’ve sold one too many faulty products. You would devise a strategy detailing what you’ll do to increase product quality, including more quality assurance checks throughout the manufacturing process, sourcing better materials, and creating a robust design.

Be strategic in your communications with Amazon Support

Amazon Support doesn’t have the best reputation for being forthcoming with their help towards sellers. So it’s important not to waste your best opportunity to reason with Amazon about your account suspension — your POA.

Here are some things to remember when dealing with Amazon support to dodge communication errors.

  • Avoid generic or rambling responses.
  • Maintain an upbeat and polite tone in all your communications, whether in your POA or speaking with Amazon Support.
  • Don’t bug support for updates, as this could delay your application.
  • Don’t blame customers or Amazon support for issues, regardless of whether they did something wrong or not.

3 Best practices to avoid Amazon account suspensions

3 Best practices to avoid Amazon account suspensions

1) Stay updated on Amazon’s Terms of Service

Amazon’s terms of service are constantly changing so it’s critical you stay updated on the latest rules and policies, to avoid hiccups in your selling journey. To give you an idea of which areas to pay attention to, here are some common areas sellers go astray:

  • Trying to rig the review system: asking for positive reviews, asking customers to contact you before they, asking people you know to buy your items and leave a positive review.
  • Failing to keep negative feedback at 1% or less: Some sellers get caught out when their product has a low perceived value compared to what they sold in their listings.
  • Not keeping canceled or delayed order shipments under 1% or less: Some sellers that fulfill orders internally or with a 3PL get caught out by lagging inventory data and inefficient fulfillment processes.

2) Keep your prep and fulfillment processes in check

It’s important to know your duties and responsibilities according to your chosen prep and fulfillment process. To do this, study the service level agreement (SLA) from your fulfillment service(s). Some typical SLAs you’ll encounter include:

Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) SLA: Details responsibilities you’ll have as an Amazon seller like sourcing and sending goods to Amazon. The FBA SLA also Amazon’s commitments to you as a seller, like receiving inventory into their fulfillment centers and shipping goods to customers on time.

Fulfilled by Merchant (FBM) SLA: This covers what you’ll be accountable for as a seller taking on the fulfillment process, like safe delivery of orders to customers within the shipping options’ standard delivery times.

Seller Fulfilled Prime (SFP) SLA: Explains the obligations you’ll have when sending prime goods from your warehouses.

Whichever SLA you opt for, it’s vital you uphold your responsibilities within the agreement (like replenishing stock before you run out to avoid rushed receiving and restocking). This approach will help you:

  • Maintain a great customer experience
  • Avoid costly fulfillment errors (e.g., sending goods to FBA compliant that don’t meet Amazon’s packaging requirements)
  • Boost repeat orders and returning customer rates

3) Maintain a healthy IPI score

The Inventory Performance Index is a metric Amazon uses to determine how well you manage your stock’s turnover. It’s essential you take consistent actions to improve your IPI score. Failure to do so can lead to Amazon reducing your inventory limits and even the dread account suspension. According to Amazon, the most critical moves you can make are to:

  • Keep a happy medium between how much inventory you sell and how much you keep in FBA (between 30-60 days’ worth of stock)
  • Avoid racking up excess and aged stock
  • Solve listing issues
  • Ensure your top-performing products have enough stock to service demand

Tip: Amazon changes their minimum IPI score, so stay informed on what the latest figure is.

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Following an Amazon account suspension

An Amazon account suspension is an uncomfortable situation for any seller to face. However, if you can stay calm, execute a solid win-back strategy, and learn from your mistakes, your Amazon business can make a full recovery. The best strategy is to prevent suspension in the first place so ensure you stay updated on your obligations as a seller.

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