Month: September 2022
How to Manage Backorders
Demand is high. Orders are rolling in. Yet, stock levels are at zero and the warehouse shelves are empty. What do you do? Sell through and ship items later, or put all orders on hold until stock levels are replenished?
Selling products when you don’t have inventory can be a risky retail strategy. Implement a backorder strategy the right way and you’ll be able to successfully keep order numbers rising while waiting for stock to arrive.
Let’s explore everything you need to know about backorders: what they are, why they happen, and how to efficiently manage backorders and leverage their secret power for your eCommerce business.
What is a backorder?
Backorders refer to products that are temporarily out of stock and due to be replenished soon.
Selling products on backorder means you can capture a sale with the promise that customers will receive the goods as soon as stock levels have been replenished.
Backorders can happen for a variety of reasons (which we’ll dive into shortly) from unexpected demand to supplier delays.
Keeping track of your backorder rate is a great way to monitor the health of your inventory levels.
Calculate your backorder rate by dividing the number of undeliverable orders (due to temporary stock shortages) by the total number of orders, then multiplying the result by 100.
A high backorder rate indicates that demand often outweighs product availability, while a low backorder rate shows that you consistently have enough inventory to fulfill orders. Having some products on backorder can be a smart retail strategy for your store if managed efficiently. You’ve just got to find that sweet spot — too many backorders will upset your customers.
Backorders vs out-of-stock products: What’s the difference?
While backorders are products that are temporarily out of stock, the term backorder shouldn’t be confused with “out of stock”.
Products that are out of stock often don’t have a determined date for resupply. Out-of-stock products may be due to be replenished or they may be discontinued, never to grace your warehouse shelves (or customers’ orders) again. On the flip side, backordered products do have an expected restock date. This restock date is usually shared with customers so they know when to expect their order.
- Out of stock = not currently in stock with no set replenishment date
- Backorder = not currently in stock but has an expected replenishment data
Backorder vs backlog: What’s the difference?
The difference between backorders and backlogs is slightly more complex as backorders can be part of a backlog.
A backlog covers the total number of orders you have received but not yet shipped to customers. As you can see, this would include any orders that are on hold due to backorder.
Let’s say a customer places an order on the first day of the month, but it isn’t shipped until the last day of the month. That order will be placed on your backlog on the days in between ordering and delivery.
We know backorders happen due to products being ordered while temporarily out of stock. Meanwhile, backlogs refer to all orders that haven’t yet been shipped. This could be due to a myriad of reasons such as customers requesting later shipping dates, slower order fulfillment due to increased demand, or having products on backorder.
The risks and benefits of backorders
While it seems like a lucrative opportunity, retailers offering backorders need to tread carefully.
Lean inventory can be great for minimizing costs, waste, and resources. Go too lean with your inventory levels and you run the risk of stockouts, lost sales, and damaged customer relationships. You only have to look at the recent COVID-19 pandemic to know that retailers using just-in-time (JIT) inventory management were hit hard by supply and demand shocks.
As well as putting yourself at risk of supply and demand shocks, backorders can also impact customer relationships. Longer than expected lead times could lead to order cancellations, damaging customer trust and driving them into the arms of your competitors. Order cancellations due to backorders could then lead to overstocks where you have more inventory than demand.
Backorders shouldn’t form the backbone of your eCommerce business. Rather, they should be strategically used to maintain order demand, even when you don’t have enough stock on hand.
Backorders are great when managed correctly. An efficient backorder strategy can support customer retention by allowing people to place orders while you’re in between stock. Backorders also maintain product hype by demonstrating demand. Add these factors to the ability to sell products before you have inventory, and you’re well on the way to increasing revenue with a well-managed backorder strategy.
Effectively managing backorders requires a careful balancing act of finding the optimal replenishment levels and frequency.
What causes backorders?
There are a number of reasons why backorders might occur. A supply chain delay is the overarching cause of backorder. Broken down, these supply chain delays could be caused by:
- Products selling better than expected – It can be hard to judge which products will perform best. If products sell better than expected, you may find yourself facing stock shortages while you replenish inventory.
- Supplier issues – Not everything is in your control. Supplier issues might happen due to natural disasters, material shortages, strikes, shipping issues, or compliance errors — to name a few reasons. These issues can also cause stock delays leading to backorders.
- Inefficient inventory processes – Not all inventory processes are made equal and some put you at higher risk of stockouts. Using inefficient inventory processes such as just-in-time inventory management could cause backorders due to understocking products.
- Unexpected product demand – Products can peak in demand for numerous reasons. Whether it’s due to a high sales period such as Black Friday and the holiday season or your product went viral on social media, unexpected product demand could lead to backorders if demand outweighs stock levels.
- Low safety stock levels – Safety stock levels are minimum stock levels designed to protect against stockouts. Miscalculating safety stock levels could cause that safety level to be lower than actual demand and, in turn, may lead to backorders.
Whatever the cause of backorders may be, it’s crucial you have strong backorder management processes in place.
How to manage backorders?
Make backorders a revenue-driving force for your eCommerce store by following our best practices for efficient backorder management.
Decide whether to offer backorders
First, decide whether you want to offer backorders. Selling products on backorder sounds like a dream retail strategy — customers can still purchase while you wait for the products to come in. In reality, it requires astute attention to detail and strong organizational skills.
When deciding whether to offer backorders, ask yourself if you have the capacity to stay on top of backorder processes. Make sure your inventory and order systems are able to handle backorders. Having a reliable method for keeping track of backorders will help prevent order delays, cancellations, or even forgetting to ship backorders to customers.
You’ll need to have a pulse on accurate product restock dates and product demand too. Offering backorders is a numbers game where you balance incoming and outgoing stock against current and expected orders. You will also need to run a tight fulfillment and replenishment strategy to keep up with backorder demands.
Estimate the lead time for backorders
You shouldn’t offer backorders if you can’t accurately predict when the orders will be shipped.
Backorders are ideal for maintaining order volume while waiting for supplier inventory restocks. But, your customers aren’t going to wait forever. Selling products on backorder without an estimated lead time can be frustrating for customers. If they’re buying something online, they want to know when they’ll receive the goods.
Work with your suppliers to calculate the expected lead times for products. You can then decide whether it’s worthwhile offering backorders on a product-by-product basis. People may be willing to wait longer for investment items such as a new sofa or a designer handbag. These products could have back order lead times of 12 weeks or more. However, they may be less willing to wait for impulse purchases. Offering long lead times on impulse purchase items could result in high order cancellation or returns rates.
Estimate the lead time for all products in your inventory and determine if it’s a viable strategy before letting customers order products on backorder.
Anticipate order demand
Order demand ebbs and flows. Some products may sell consistently throughout the year while others experience peaks and troughs. Winter woolies, for example, will experience increased demand in the colder months.
Understanding the expected order demand throughout the year allows you to carefully forecast high purchase periods. You can then work out when you might need to put a strong backorder strategy in place. Offering backorders helps you handle spikes in order demand, especially unexpected ones. You’ll be able to retain customer orders, knowing that they’ll be shipped out on longer lead times.
Anticipating order demand throughout the year also helps you maintain accurate safety stock levels. You can adjust safety stock levels depending on the expected order volume. That way, you only need to offer backorders when you receive an unexpected increase in orders.
Prepare for backorders
There are a few things you can do to prepare for backorders and ensure your backorder strategy only kicks it when absolutely necessary.
We always recommend diversifying your supplier network. Having more suppliers you can pull from for product replenishment can reduce your chance of backorders. If you do need to offer backorders, you can contact your suppliers to see who can fulfill the backorders in the shortest turnaround time. Be mindful of the increased cost implication of smaller order volumes from backup suppliers.
Offering alternative shipping methods can also offer protection in the event of backorders. Let customers split their order so in-stock items are shipped immediately while they wait for backordered products to arrive at a later date. This minimizes frustration by ensuring customers still get the rest of their order. However, retailers offering split-shipping will incur two separate shipping costs which they can choose to absorb or pass on to customers.
Increasing production is another way you can prepare for backorders by keeping unexpected stockouts at bay. Make sure you have a sufficient amount of inventory to cover high-demand sales periods. That way, you can keep backorders to a minimum. After all, every purchase on backorder adds additional strain to your eCommerce fulfillment processes.
Add any backorder information to product listings
Be upfront about backordered products by adding backorder information to product listings. Transparency creates trust with your customers and prevents avoidable friction and frustration.
Add the expected lead time for backorder products on product listings. Make sure it’s easy for customers to see which products are available for immediate shipment and which ones will have longer lead times due to backorders.
Keep customers informed
Keep customers informed about their order status with emails and SMS messages. Send them order update emails and messages letting them know when they can expect to receive their orders.
This could include notifications letting them know:
- The expected delivery window for their order
- The arrival date of the products in the warehouse
- When the order has been processed for delivery
- The order is out for delivery
- An updated expected delivery time
Keeping customers informed every step of the way protects your relationship with the customer, building a circle of trust.
Making sure your customers know when to expect their orders also helps mitigate the negative effects of order delays. Delivery issues are the leading cause of customers detracting from brands. So, keep delivery woes at bay by keeping customers in the loop at all times.
Maintain accurate inventory records
Streamline inventory processes and keep real-time records of all inventory operations. Keep tabs on everything from current inventory levels to order backlogs. You need to know how much inventory you have available versus how much inventory you need to fulfill current and expected customer orders.
Accurate inventory records allow you to keep on top of all incoming orders, making sure you have enough stock to fulfill purchases. You can also check inventory records to see when you need to re-order stock from suppliers to cover backorders or maintain safety stock levels. Every backorder you receive is another unfulfilled order you need to manage. If you want to effectively offer backorders, you need to run a tight ship.
You can also use inventory records to forecast future stock demands and explore your current backorder rate. Analyzing your inventory records lets you optimize processes moving forward.
Optimize fulfillment operations
Don’t let your backorder strategy fail at the last hurdle. Ensure your fulfillment operations are equipped to handle backorders.
Backorders can result in periods where you have a large influx of orders that are put on hold until a set date. As soon as inventory is available, those orders in the backlog will need efficiently fulfilling to make sure they reach customers in the anticipated delivery window.
Fulfilling backorders can be a time and resource-exhaustive task. You may need to bring on extra warehouse staff to support with backorder fulfillment or outsource fulfillment to an experienced third-party fulfillment partner.
At MyFBAPrep, we’re ready to support retailers with our seamless fulfillment services. Simply send your inventory to us and we’ll handle the order fulfillment from start to end. You’ll even get real-time insights into inventory and orders.
Wrapping up — learn how to handle backorders and avoid losing customers
Backorders can be a lucrative revenue driver for your store but only when handled with care. When implemented correctly, backorders can maintain the flow of incoming orders and boost customer satisfaction with transparent communication.
Fail to finetune your backorder management operations and you run the risk of upsetting customers and putting strain on your inventory, fulfillment, and accounting. It’s a dangerous situation for any retailer to be in.
Create a clear action plan for handling backorders and you’ll be able to retain customers and keep them satisfied. Preparation really is the key to survival when managing backorders.
If you need a helping hand with backorder fulfillment, reach out to see how we can support you with our well-connected warehouse and fulfillment network.
5 Email Tools to Master Your eCommerce Newsletters
Want to know Wayfair’s secret to building a $5.6 billion empire?
With email users expected to reach a whopping 4.59 billion by 2025 and 65% of consumers anticipating they’ll use digital shopping channels more in the future, email marketing is the solution that growing brands have been looking for.
Armed with an effective email marketing strategy and the tools to execute it, reaching your target customer via email is one of the best ways to drive leads and sales sustainably.
Thankfully, email marketing tools have become more sophisticated in helping eCommerce brands grow their followings, engagement, and bottom lines.
In this post, we’ll explore why there’s never been a better time to bet on email marketing. We’ll also share some pro tips on crafting emails that get results, and some must-have email solutions to streamline the process.
Why now is the time to invest in email marketing
With TikTok’s unrivaled organic reach and influencer marketing’s enticing allure, it’s easy to overlook emails as just another marketing trope from the past. But email still reigns supreme in many ways. Let’s dig into why it pays to level up your email marketing today:
More conversions for less
With the right email campaigns and targeting, your brand stands in line for massive payouts. You can generate £42 for every £1 spent on email marketing.
Emails are an excellent way to nudge shoppers towards new products, related items, and exciting offers. As a result, you can also increase metrics like average order value, customer lifetime value, and cart abandonment rate with positive effects on your revenue.
Protect your brand from unexpected events
No matter how much you invest in social media marketing, you never truly own your profiles. In fact, you don’t have to look far for horror stories of social accounts with followers into six figures shutdown overnight.
However, one thing you can own? Your email list. And the best part is, that email marketing helps you to grow and nurture a following, regardless of what happens in the social media world. As your email marketing becomes more mature, you’ll build a solid safety net for your business.
Make your marketing strategies more productive
From PPC ad campaigns to influencer collaborations, email marketing complements nearly every marketing effort you can think of to help you get more out of them.
For example, you can gather email addresses from an influencer collaboration or giveaway, and gather a list of people to contact for future promos until they decide to unsubscribe. This way, you provide your brand with more opportunities to reach shoppers, kick start their buyer’s journey, and close sales.
Secure and sustain your audience’s attention
One of the great things about email marketing is it helps to solve the “out of sight out of mind issue” that plagues many businesses.
Email helps you build rapport and trust by showing up consistently in your subscribers’ inboxes, and offers the ability to cash in on this relationship later on. For example, say you own an acne skincare brand. You could share tips and tricks on how to beat breakouts. Once you offer your acne prevention line as a solution, shoppers will be more receptive to buying because you captured their attention, solved their problems, and earned their trust.
As the sales flood in, you’ll need top-notch fulfillment to keep shoppers happy. Learn how MYFBAPrep makes it easy.
5 must-haves for a successful email campaign
Crafting productive email newsletters isn’t just about words on a screen and pretty pictures. You need the full package of skills and tools to generate conversions. Let’s look at some of the other factors to consider and optimize for better results:
Whether running a broadcast campaign or nurture sequence, creating engaging emails your audience can’t wait to read is essential. This means researching your target customer’s wants and needs and giving every email a clear value proposition, whether it’s solving problems, answering customer questions, clarifying queries, or making a valuable offer.
Writing captivating email newsletters and campaigns is an acquired skill that takes a lot of time, practice, and split testing to master.
Using designs that resonate with your target customer and testing new templates to keep your email content fresh is also critical. If writing email copy and designs aren’t your strong points, don’t fret. You can enlist the help of an email marketing agency or freelancer.
A healthy email list
Your email list’s health can make or break your email newsletters’ productivity, so it’s vital to maintain excellent list hygiene. Some ways you can keep your email list in tip-top condition include:
- Avoid purchasing email leads
- Running an email acquisition campaign targeting your dream customers
- Cleaning your list periodically of incorrect emails and chronically unresponsive leads
Segmentation and personalization
If email marketing is the sauce, segmentation and personalization are the secret seasonings that bring the campaign recipe together. So, implement both tactics to keep your emails valuable and relevant to readers. Keep in mind that an emails relevancy will depend on things like the actions your audience members have taken, and demographic information such as:
- Customer journey stage
- Past purchases
- Purchase frequency
- Amount of time spent as a customer of your store
Email sending consistency
An email list’s health decays when you don’t contact leads regularly and consistently. So, set up an email schedule, set time aside to create content, and automate sending to ensure you stay in touch with your audience.
In the same breath, don’t overdo your email output. Keep promo emails at a max of 1 per day to avoid annoying and fatiguing your audience.
5 email marketing tools to skyrocket eCommerce sales
Once you’ve built up a small email list, researched the market, and crafted a comprehensive strategy, your next task is to find an email marketing solution to help you win. To help with your groundwork, here are our top picks for email marketing solutions:
Product highlights: CRM and eCommerce platform integrations, lead capture, design, and automation.
Dubbed the eCommerce revenue engine, Drip is one of the best tools on the market for helping eCommerce stores upgrade their sales with email marketing. Its innovative analytics and design capabilities combined with numerous integrations to CRMs and eCommerce sales platforms, ensure you’ve got all the data needed to craft hard-hitting, personalized campaigns.
Drip’s impressive automation sequence builder, lead capture forms, SMS marketing, and cart recovery also ensure your brand stands out and stays top of mind.
Product highlights: segmentation, split testing, dynamic email content, CRM, and API integrations.
Equipped with pro-level A/B testing, campaign management, email drip, and segmentation capabilities, Klaviyo ensures your campaign is built to win. API and CRM integrations will further support your efforts by feeding in customers and storing data to improve your email resonance with your subscribers.
Take readers on a personalized ride they won’t forget in a hurry with dynamic email content, customizable CTAs, and event-triggered actions. With Klaviyo, you’re never left guessing about an email campaign’s performance. Track results live using an activity dashboard complete with perks like ROI tracking, website visitor monitoring, and click recording to ensure you never miss a beat.
Product highlights: Flexible templates, drag and drop email builder, data capturing, and dynamic discount codes.
Omnisend is its name; nimbleness is its game. Boasting features like drag and drop content editor, email template library, dynamic discount codes, and preset saving, Omnisend takes agile email marketing to new levels.
Omnisend allows you to craft shoppable emails with sleek designs so good that customers can’t wait to hit ‘buy’. Seal the deal with expert data capturing utilization on things like your customer’s lifecycle stage, shopping behaviors, and message interaction to help you craft timely email content. If you’re looking for a solution to make your brand more memorable while staying on-brand, Omnisend is just the ticket.
4) Constant Contact
Product highlights: Reporting, huge template library, customer list segmentation.
On a mission to help brands stay in touch with shoppers and drive sales faster, Constant Contact comes jam-packed with features designed to help get more business. From razor-sharp reporting to an extensive template library, you’ll have every you need to know what’s working and adjust campaigns for optimal results.
Constant Contact also allows you to pull customer data from your store and segment it into custom lists to ensure you always reach the right people. If your store needs more than email tools, you’re in luck. Constant Contact also provides a host of conversion-generating tools like survey makers, lead generation landing pages, social media ad management solutions, and much more to upgrade your marketing from all angles.
Product highlights: set and forget campaigns, visual customer path builder, and landing page builder.
Is your store an extension of your personal brand? ConvertKit is a solution you’ll need in your arsenal. Built to help creators own their audience and take control of their earning potential, ConvertKit provides audience-accelerating tools like a landing page builder and opt-in templates.
Speed up your email marketing setup with efficiency with a solution visual automation builder, content hub, and single-time campaign setups with RSS feeds.
Being all about the stats, ConvertKit also provides a useful dashboard to monitor audience actions and sales with the option to integrate your eCommerce tools for more intel on your revenue and audience.
Putting together a winning growth strategy? Get a top-class eCommerce fulfillment process to match.
Capture shoppers’ attention and pockets with scroll-stopping email content
Email marketing has risen through the ranks to become one of the top ways to communicate with your target audience, develop strong ties, and catapult sales. To get ahead you’ll need a well-crafted plan and the tools to execute it with precision.
Ensure you have shoppers gripped by every word by making your emails an asset to potential customers. Anticipate their needs and use your email copy to meet them and keep content exciting with new layouts and topics. Finally, give your subscribers red carpet treatment with personal touches, appropriate offers, and exclusive deals to ensure they keep their eyes peeled for your emails in their inbox.
Who knows. You could be one email campaign away from a bumper payday.
Ready to “wow” shoppers in your eCommerce business? Partner with MyFBAPrep.
4 Stellar Content Agencies For Your eCommerce Business
What do NASA, Kroger, and the BBC all have in common?
Showstopping content marketing strategies.
Using blog posts, videos, and everything in between, these brands have cracked the code on capturing the hearts and wallets of their target audience with show content.
And it’s easy to see why.
Not only are there 5 billion digital users and 4.65 billion social media users globally, but content marketing also generates 3x more leads than outbound marketing strategies and costs 62% less. Yet many brands struggle to create engaging content that generates leads consistently. If this sounds like you, don’t fret. You can team up with an eCommerce content marketing agency.
In this post, we’ll dive into what a content marketing agency is and discuss whether they can help your eCommerce brand get ahead. We’ll also share some top content marketing agencies for eCommerce businesses.
Don’t wait for your store to hit its next growth stage. Refine your fulfillment strategy with MyFBAPrep now for a smoother ride.
What is a content marketing agency? And what does it do?
A content marketing agency’s job is to spread the word about a business, increasing your brand’s perceived value, driving engagement, and closing sales.
Content agencies create content at every stage of the buyer’s journey to inch shoppers closer to hitting “buy” with every interaction. Some assets a content marketing agency can create include:
- Social media posts
- Blog posts
- Email campaigns
- Product descriptions
- Web copy
- Ad copy
- And much more.
Taking your brand to the next level? Ensure your fulfillment processes are fit for the task.
Benefits of working with an eCommerce content marketing agency
With popular marketing vehicles like pay-per-click advertising and influencer marketing to choose from, it’s easy to question whether content marketing can help grow your eCommerce brand. The answer is a resounding “yes”.
Let’s explore some ways content marketing can help you build a better brand:
Increase your content output
Let’s imagine you decide to start a blog. You’ll need at least 1-2 blog posts per week with relevant keywords. Then you’ll need to mix in other content assets like social media posts, explainer videos, and how-to tutorials to accommodate how people like to consume content.
The time, energy, and skills required to produce these successfully can’t be understated. It also becomes tempting to put off content creation during busy periods, slowing down your momentum. Luckily, when you’re partnered with a content agency, you can ensure that the work gets done no matter what.
Get more eyeballs on your offers
In today’s digital age, hoppers are glued to screens more than ever, 7 hours and 4 minutes per day to be exact. So, attention is currency. This fact provides a huge opportunity to get in front of your target customer, earn their trust through helpful content, and secure more sales.
Build brand authority
Being on multiple platforms with engaging content can educate shoppers on how your product can help them and improve its trustworthiness and authority in your target customer’s eyes. As your brand authority grows, you can become the go-to advisor in your niche, increasing your conversions.
Great tech builds great online stores. Discover how MyFBAPrep’s solutions help you thrive.
7 Qualities to look for in an eCommerce content marketing agency
While every eCommerce marketing agency will have its own quirks and specialties, there are some universal characteristics you want to look out for to increase your chances of picking a winning agency. Let’s look at a few:
Whether you’re promoting products on TikTok, launching new product descriptions, or split-testing web copy, eCommerce content needs to be eye-catching, engaging, and in line with the times.
Finding an agency with a creative eye and knowledge of what’s hot and what’s not is vital to remain competitive. Your content marketing agency should constantly test new asset types, topics, and tactics to keep content fresh and the lead pipeline full.
It takes different skills to create compelling content for a B2B insurance broker or SaaS company than for eCommerce stores. Relevant experience is essential to know what shoppers want to see now and predict what will be appealing in the future. Experience in crafting winning eCommerce content will also allow the agency to create content that appears native to the marketing platform and has the capacity to outdo competitors.
Transparency is essential for your content agency partnership to flourish.
Your eCommerce content marketing agency should be willing to share crucial project details. This is to help you understand how they’ll execute their duties and determine how to measure success. For example, the agency should reveal:
- The strategies they will use on your account
- Past results
- Campaign performance
- Fee structure
4) Excellent communication skills
Communication keeps the wheels spinning on a project, whether it’s a short, one-off gig or a long-term, large-scale project. So, look for clear, consistent communication in your initial interactions with a content agency. Also, sift through reviews for information on how they’ve communicated with past clients.
5) Ability to meet deadlines
Consistency is essential to building a successful content marketing strategy. A reliable agency should help you establish a predictable workflow, meet deadlines, and implement tactics to ensure content launches on time. For example, if you need weekly blog posts, they should work and could even help you build a content pool you can pull from if a content asset needs more time to create.
6) Track campaign performance
“What gets tracked, gets measured.” Reputable content marketing agencies will subscribe to this sentiment. The agency you pick should not only track results through custom-picked KPIs. They should also keep you informed on their through clear reporting.
7) SEO-optimization skills
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) plays a critical role in amplifying your content and pushing organic content to your store. Look for an agency that understands the value of SEO and can help you craft and implement a comprehensive SEO strategy in tandem with your content strategy.
4 eCommerce content marketing agencies to watch
Finding a suitable content agency starts with good, old-fashioned research. This vital step can make or break your content marketing success, so make it a priority from the start. To launch your search mission, here are 4 eCommerce content marketing agencies to look into:
1) Common Thread
Best known for: Creatives, Email Marketing, SEO
Common Thread is a full-scale eCommerce marketing agency with an eye for content that grows businesses. From email marketing to SEO, this agency’s expansive skill set and belief in connecting the dots across marketing platforms ensures stores see huge returns.
Never a brand to shy away from giving valuable advice upfront, Common Thread offers a free content audit to set the stage for success with their brand.
2) Fluid Commerce
Best known for: Content creation, PPC, and Web Design
Fluid Commerce is all about helping you create strong branding and sales across marketing platforms and shopping channels. Using agile content strategies, regular split testing, and web design.
As its name suggests, Fluid Commerce helps brands say “no” to rigid marketing strategies, helping create relevant content that keeps up with the fast-paced, ever-changing eCommerce world. If your site runs on Adobe Commerce (Magneto 2), you’re in luck as Fluid Commerce sites this platform as one of its strong points.
3) SEO Works
Best known for: SEO, PPC, and Web Design
Dubbed digital growth experts, SEO Works has been helping eCommerce brands get a foot up the rung using top-tier SEO services for over a decade. From content-driven SEO to award-winning PPC campaigns, this agency thrives from using a data-driven approach to drive traffic and sales.
SEO Works has achieved impressive results like a 557% uptick in online revenue on a project and an all-star client list, including brands like Decathlon, Denby, and Lowe alpine.
Best known for: Full-scale eCommerce Marketing
Blending content marketing, email marketing, CRO, PPC, and Paid Social, Inflow is on a mission to help online stores scale sustainably.
Once signed up, each client gets a custom strategy and help from specialists to get more eyeballs on their products, increase sales, and keep shoppers coming back for more.
InFlow’s multifaceted approach to content marketing is working a treat. They now boast a 97% customer retention rate and 134% increase in Ad revenue as just a few of their wins. So, if you’re looking for a content agency with a solid track record and extensive experience, InFlow could be just what you need.
Win big with eCommerce content marketing
Working with a reputable eCommerce content marketing agency is an effective way to scale up content production, drive engagement and improve your lead generation. So, be on the lookout for the tell-tale signs of a great content agency like experience, communication, results monitoring, and a creative eye.
Be open to trying new ways to market your business with content and allocate funds to sufficiently test strategies. Soon, your business will be on the path to profitable content funnels, bigger paydays, and an ever-growing audience.
Ready to level up your eCommerce business? Learn how MyFBAPrep can help.
How to Run an eCommerce Business: Outsourcing vs. In-House Work
This is a guest post from Career Karma, the easiest way to find a job training program online. They help over 1 million workers navigate their careers every month through advice and coaching.
Running an eCommerce business can be challenging for both first-timers and established business owners. Primarily, it’s crucial to understand the market and then determine the tasks that can be outsourced and the ones to keep in-house. When making these decisions, it’s important to consider key factors including language, location, company needs, and quality of services.
Generally speaking, outsourcing is quickly becoming the go-to service for both small-scale and large-scale businesses. In fact, research shows that the global outsourcing market is valued at approximately $92.5 billion, and nearly 74 percent of businesses rely on eCommerce outsourcing services. However, to run a successful eCommerce business, you must understand the ins and outs of outsourcing and in-housing.
This article will explore the benefits of both services and determine the right tasks to outsource and keep in-house.
What is the Difference Between Outsourcing and In-Housing in eCommerce?
The difference between outsourcing and in-housing is primarily based on the delivery model. eCommerce outsourcing involves hiring a third-party company or contractor to complete duties and responsibilities related to your company. On the other hand, in-housing or insourcing involves completing all company operations with the help of in-house staff.
Benefits of Outsourcing Work in eCommerce
Focus on the Company
When you’re overwhelmed at work, it’s easy to overlook significant aspects of the company. Hiring third parties lets you focus on your core and uphold the company’s vision through brand-influencing activities. For example, you don’t need an entire department for content creation, as you can outsource content creators and retain a smaller sales and marketing team.
Outsourcing tasks can save your company a lot of money. Full-time employees require a monthly salary, benefits, and training. You must also maintain office equipment and invest in system integration, logistics, web development, and back-office support. Investing in a third-party contractor allows you to save money because you’ll invest less capital on these necessities.
Outsourcing tasks is an excellent approach to improving your organization’s productivity. When you rely on a small in-house team to handle all processes, you’ll typically experience less productivity. Outsourcing allows you to work with a larger team. The team handles customer needs and achieves company goals on time. You can also keep up with your competition without hiring more employees.
Offer Flexible Hiring Processes
In-house employees usually have long-term contracts. However, outsourcing tasks offers a flexible hiring process because you can find employees based on need and project type. For example, if you’re working on a three-month project, you can outsource short-term contractors without long-term obligations.
Keep up with New Technology
The eCommerce sector is growing rapidly, thanks to regular tech advancements. Outsourcing allows you to find skilled individuals in different areas, like web design, programming, data analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI). As a result, your company will maintain high standards in technology.
Five Types of Work You Can Outsource
Selecting which tasks to outsource can be challenging because you must safeguard company data. You must consider several factors and work with the right contractors. However, despite the seriousness of the process, the tasks below are perfect for outsourcing.
1. Content Creation
Blogging, social media posts, videos, infographics, and podcasts are pivotal in taking your company to the next level. However, you don’t need a full content creation department within your organization. Instead, outsourcing these duties to content creators and influencers on different platforms creates extensive brand awareness for your company.
Content creation is part of marketing because it tackles an array of social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and blogs. However, the marketing team also handles merchandising, email marketing, Pay-Per-Click services, analytics and reporting, brand management, and research. You can outsource all of the marketing duties of the organization to skilled contractors.
3. Order Fulfillment
You may outsource your order fulfillment duties to an experienced fulfillment partner. Usually, the contractor will store your products in their warehouse, packing and shipping them upon request.
For example, MyFBAPrep monitors inventory and handles logistics. In fact, outsourcing order fulfillment allows you to manufacture more while eliminating the stress of meeting deadlines and handling large consignments or international shipping.
4. Web Design and Maintenance
You may feel apprehensive about opening your platform to a total stranger. However, unless you’re highly skilled in web design and development, you should outsource this task. The increase in coding boot camps allows more people to sharpen their programming and web design skills, opting for freelance gigs. You can take advantage of these professionals to tackle these duties while you focus on growing the business.
5. Administrative Tasks
Virtual assistants (VAs) are becoming popular as companies seek to outsource various administrative tasks. You can hire a virtual assistant to manage your schedule, create reports, prepare travel arrangements, manage files, and organize presentations. A VA should be available around the clock and meet all of your administrative needs, despite the distance.
Factors to Consider When Outsourcing for an eCommerce Business
While outsourcing is cost-effective and productive, you must consider the following factors before opening your business to a third party:
- The resources and technology that are available to the third party.
- The third-party’s rates should be within your budget to avoid spending more than you use for in-house services.
- It’s important that you find someone fluent in your language.
- Your contractor should be able to meet company deadlines with minimal supervision.
- The outsourced contractor should be trustworthy and maintain good communication skills.
Benefits of Insourcing in eCommerce
Insourcing enhances your ability to safeguard company data, such as tech developments, sensitive passwords, trade secrets, and confidential documents. Employees can’t access or distribute this data to other computers when all company information is in one location.
Insourcing makes it easier for you to manage your team in one location. For example, you can access performance, assign employees to different projects, and manage employee development. In addition, insourcing will create stronger employee relationships, leading to better teamwork and retention.
When all employees are in one location or linked to the same system, communication becomes easier between the management and employees. Furthermore, everyone is in the same time zone, meaning you don’t have to worry about late responses and separate meetings. You can quickly call your employee to the office in an emergency.
Insourcing allows you to maintain the company’s quality through direct supervision and one-on-one management. You can work with the in-house team to identify loopholes as well as correct shortcomings immediately. For example, if everyone working on a project is at the office, it’s easier to identify who dropped the ball and how to fix problems onsite.
Four Types of Work You Shouldn’t Outsource
Outsourcing is a brilliant move for your eCommerce business. Nonetheless, not every task is up for outsourcing. Below are four vital tasks that you should delegate to your in-house team.
1. Executive and Leadership Positions
You should never outsource executive roles and leadership positions that significantly impact your company’s success. The CEO and management staff should include professionals who are invested in the company and understand the vision. In addition, company leaders should have physical access to the company location and team.
2. Human Resources (HR)
Many companies work with third-party hiring companies to find competent employees. However, you should never outsource full HR responsibilities to a third-party firm. Your management team should always have the final say regarding hiring and firing your employees.
In addition, you should handle all HR responsibilities in-house, including payroll processing, disciplinary actions, benefits analysis, and employee conduct analysis. Remember, you can always invest in employee training at top management boot camps like Flatiron School, Simplilearn, and Thinkful.
3. Core Company Competencies
Your core company competencies should never be available to third-party contractors. If you value your company resources and strategies training, using a third party may not be the best fit for you. Moreover, an external contractor may provide training that doesn’t align with your vision. It will help if you use your in-house team to handle duties related to your core competencies.
4. Company Finances
You can outsource specific accounting tasks like bookkeeping, tax accounting, and financial data analytics. However, you should not give a third-party contractor access to your finances. In addition, you should only work with reputable and trustworthy external contractors when dealing with company finances.
Outsourcing is becoming the norm in various industries, and you can outsource various tasks to ensure company productivity. In addition, tech advancements are improving eCommerce businesses, so in turn, outsourcing opportunities are also rising. You may see this trend become more prevalent as more and more companies adopt hybrid and remote work setups.
However, you should always prioritize the company vision, whether outsourcing or using in-house staff. MyFBAPrep is ahead of the game in eCommerce outsourcing services. They offer high-quality inventory management services to ensure efficient order fulfillment.
How to Prep Your Amazon Listing for a Sold-out Launch: Your Go-To Guide
This is a guest post from Omar, the eCommerce-obsessed Co-founder and CEO of OJ Digital Solutions, an agency that helps Amazon sellers 2X their conversion rate by optimizing their Amazon listings.
Are you looking to launch a new product on Amazon? If so, you need to make sure that your listing is ready for prime time.
A successful launch can help jumpstart your product’s success on the platform and set the tone for your entire product lifecycle.
It’s, therefore, crucial to take the time to plan and prepare properly.
This article will show you exactly how to set up your Amazon listing for a sold-out launch.
By following these tips, you can increase your chances of success and generate more sales in the process.
Let’s get started!
Preparing Your Amazon Listing For A Launch On Amazon
Before you launch your product on Amazon, it is essential to take the time to prepare your listing.
This will ensure that potential customers can find your product and make a purchase.
Here are some tips for preparing your Amazon listing for a successful launch:
Ensure all details on your listing are accurate
Inaccurate information can lead to customer confusion and may result in them not making a purchase.
This includes things like your product title, description, pricing, and availability.
Make sure you double-check all of the product information on your listing before you launch.
This will help you avoid any potential problems down the road.
Optimize your product title for high CTR
Your title is one of the first things potential customers will see when they find your listing.
As such, it is crucial to ensure that your title is catchy and attention-grabbing.
A catchy title will help improve your listing’s visibility and increase your chances of making a sale.
Here are more tips for creating an attractive title that also follows Amazon title guidelines:
- Include your primary keyword at the start of your title: This will help potential customers find your listing while searching for your product on Amazon.
- Make it attention-grabbing: Use strong adjectives to describe your product. This will help make your listing stand out from the competition.
- Keep it short and sweet: A long, rambling title will likely turn potential customers away. Keep your title concise and to the point.
Here is an example of a great title:
Add Instagram-worthy product photos
Low-quality amateur images can make or break your success on Amazon.
Images affect literally everything, from your click-through rate to your conversion rate, your sales, and even your customer reviews.
They are often the first thing potential customers will see when they find your product.
As such, it is vital to ensure that your photos are high-quality and compelling.
Your photos should show your product in the best light possible and help convince potential customers to make a purchase.
Be sure to take the time to select the right photos for your listing before you launch.
PS: High-quality photos can justify a higher price, meaning you can price your product higher if your images are on point.
Here are some standard Amazon guidelines for product images:
- The image must be the product’s cover art or a qualified photograph. It is not permitted to create illustrations or drawings of the product.
- The image must not include extraneous or unclear objects.
- The image must have realistic color, smooth edges, and be in focus. It also needs to be professionally lit, scanned, or photographed.
- The front cover art for music, books, and video/DVD releases should completely fill the image frame. Cellophane, jewelry cases, and advertising stickers are not permitted.
- All other items should occupy at least 85% of the image space.
- The entire product needs to be visible.
- White background is required for the main image(RGB 255,255,255).
- No additional graphics, text, or inset images may be present in the picture.
Choose the right keywords
Keywords are another critical element of your Amazon listing.
They help potential customers find your product when searching for something on the platform, making them essential for amazon content optimization.
Consider the terms potential customers might use when searching for a product like yours.
Then, include these keywords in your listing title, description, and bullet points.
This will help improve your visibility on Amazon and increase your chances of making a sale.
You can also look at what your competitors are ranking for to get an idea of what keywords you should be targeting or get the help of amazon listing tools to speed up your search.
Set a competitive price
Pricing is an important consideration when preparing your Amazon listing for launch.
You want to ensure that you are setting a competitive price with other similar products on the market.
At the same time, you also need to ensure that your price is profitable. Be sure to research and set a price to help you reach your goals.
Find a balance between being competitive and making a profit.
Use bullet points
Bullet points are a great way to highlight the key features of your product.
They help potential customers quickly and easily see what your product has to offer and why they should buy it.
As such, it is vital to include bullet points in your listing.
Be sure to make your bullet points concise and easy to read.
Use them to highlight the most important features of your product.
This will help convince potential customers to make a purchase.
Also, use keywords in your bullet points to improve your listing’s visibility.
Here is an example of how to follow amazon bullet points guidelines in your listing:
Take advantage of A+ content
If you are enrolled in the Amazon Brand Registry program, you may be eligible to add A+ content to your listing.
This is one of the most powerful ways to turbo-boost your listing conversion rate and make your listing stand out from the competition.
A+ content includes things like additional photos, videos, and detailed descriptions.
If you are eligible, be sure to take advantage of this feature and add A+ content to your listing before you launch. Follow all A+ content guidelines to get the most out of it.
Amazon also just introduced the Amazon brand story feature, allowing brands to create a human connection with their customers by telling their stories and sharing their brand’s values with customers.
Use-easy to understand language for your product description
Your product description is where you can really sell your product to potential customers.
As such, it is important to use language that is easy to understand and persuasive.
Be sure to avoid using technical jargon or terms that might be confusing to potential customers. Instead, use language that anyone would be able to understand.
This will help convince potential customers to buy your product.
Include a call to action
A call to action (CTA) is the final push potential customers need to make a purchase decision.
It is a statement or phrase that urges the reader to take some kind of action.
Your CTA should be included in the last sentence of your product description, your bullet points (ideally the 3rd bullet point), and in the last image of your gallery images.
It should be short, concise, and easy to understand.
For example, you might use a CTA like “Buy now”, “Order today.”, “Buy 1 get 1 for Free”.
This will help encourage potential customers to make a purchase.
How To Make Your Product Launch On Amazon A Success
Here are measures you can take to make sure your product launch on Amazon is a success:
Have a marketing strategy in place
A successful product launch on Amazon requires more than just a great product.
You also need to have a solid marketing strategy in place to generate interest and drive sales.
Be sure to plan ahead and allocate the necessary resources to ensure a successful launch.
Generate buzz around your product before and during the launch
This can be done through social media, online ads, PR campaigns, or other marketing initiatives.
Getting people talking about your product before they even see it on Amazon will help create a sense of excitement and increase the likelihood of a successful launch.
Social media is a great way to generate interest in your product and drive traffic to your Amazon listing.
Be sure to create eye-catching posts and include links to your listing.
You can also run ads on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
Ensure that your product is high quality and well-packaged
This will help reduce the number of returns and negative reviews, which can hurt your chances of success on Amazon.
Make sure that your product is something customers will be happy with when they receive it.
Generate positive reviews and social proof
You can do this by sending your product to influencers, bloggers, and media outlets.
If they write positive reviews or mention your product on social media, it will help create a buzz and convince potential customers to buy it.
Take advantage of ads and promotions
Amazon PPC ads and promotions are the best ways to increase visibility for your product and generate sales.
Amazon offers a variety of advertising options that can be customized to fit your budget and goals.
Be sure to take advantage of these tools to help ensure a successful launch and boost your Amazon conversion rate.
Create a sense of urgency and scarcity around your product
This can be done by offering limited-time discounts or promotions or setting a finite number of units available for purchase.
Customers are more likely to buy a product that they feel is in high demand and may not be available for long, so this is a great way to increase sales.
The Bottom Line
If you were wondering how to prep your Amazon listing for a sold-out launch, I hope this article was helpful.
Make sure to start planning well in advance and to keep track of your inventory levels so that you don’t run out of stock during this crucial time.
With some preparation and careful management, you can ensure that your Amazon listing optimization is primed for success!
5 Awesome eCommerce Advertising Agencies You Should Know About
With online shoppers reaching 2.14 billion in 2021 and eCommerce sales forecast to hit $7.4 trillion by 2025., maximizing sales opportunities should be on every growing brand’s to-do list.
To get a bigger slice of the eCommerce pie, it’s wise to launch engaging pay-per-click (PPC) ads to complement your organic and social media marketing. Nowadays, there are more PPC options available than ever to get the word out about your business. One of the simplest ways to get started is to call in experts from an eCommerce advertising agency.
Before you take the leap, it’s critical to assess whether collaborating with an ad agency makes sense for your business. In this post, we’ll cover the instances when partnering with an eCommerce advertising agency is a good call and some essential traits for a successful run. Plus, we’ll share our top picks for eCommerce ad agencies to slash your research time.
Looking for a way to stand out from the crowd? Uplevel your fulfillment strategy.
What is an eCommerce advertising agency? And what do they do?
An eCommerce ad agency specializes in using pay-per-click ads to improve product visibility, engagement, brand awareness, and sales. An agency can craft an effective PPC strategy based on your goals which could entail a blend of PPC ad types from different platforms and sales channels. For example:
- Google Ads (e.g., Search, Display, and Shopping)
- Social media ads (e.g., TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook)
- Online marketplace ads (e.g., Amazon ads and eBay promoted listings)
Is an inefficient fulfillment strategy holding your store back? Achieve more eCommerce success with MyFBAPrep.
5 signs you need an eCommerce advertising agency
It seems everywhere you turn online, there are stories of businesses going from $0-$98K per month or more with PPC ads. Naturally, these inspiring case studies can cause you to examine your PPC campaign’s effectiveness and question whether it’s time to call in reinforcements. But is teaming up with an eCommerce advertising agency right for your business? Here are some ways to know:
1) Too many tasks, too little time
Perhaps your team is swamped with other important tasks like launch prep and product development. Or maybe you want to focus on other business scaling tasks like going cross-border. Handing over time-consuming tasks like PPC management can help you reclaim precious time and grow faster.
2) You’re out of your advertising depths
If advertising isn’t your strong point, or your stores’ PPC needs exceed your skillset, this scenario is holding your business back. So, it could be time to hand over the reins to an ad agency to maximize your Return on Ad Spend and lower your Average Cost of Sales.
3) Product launches are fast approaching
So much goes into a successful product launch and PPC ads play a leading role. If you’re launching multiple products simultaneously, it can be tempting to cut corners in your research or leave campaign builds to the last minute, impacting your result. Joining forces with an ad agency can help you get a head in your launch task list and ensure your products hit the market with a bang.
4) PPC costs are out of control
With rising PPC costs and increasing competition in the online selling market, getting a handle on your ad spend has never been more critical. To give you an idea, Amazon PPC costs stood at $0.71 pre-2020, by Jan 2021 this figure was at $0.88 and $1.20 by June 2021. Without expert knowledge, it’s easy for product advertising to become unprofitable, so a partnership with an ad agency could keep your ad project afloat.
5) You want to expand your PPC horizons
Perhaps you’ve taken your business to the next level with multichannel selling and need to expand your PPC beyond social media channels to marketplace ads. A PPC agency can help you make the jump smoother without compromising your progress.
Must haves for a successful PPC agency partnership
Working with an ad agency is a partnership in every sense of the word. Not only will you need to provide the right access privileges, but you’ll also need a solid store and mindset to match. Some key characteristics to exhibit before you:
Outsourcing marketing to an eCommerce advertising agency can get expensive, so it’s vital your store’s numbers make sense.
This includes having healthy profit margins, strong sales, an upward growth trajectory, and the budget to allocate to testing and scaling campaigns.
A great product
Well-crafted ads can amplify a product but can’t be its saving grace. So your items should already be road tested, with stellar reviews and regular customers to help improve ad engagement, customer trust, and sales.
As entrepreneurs, we have a reputation for being dreamers with huge goals we’re hellbent on achieving. While aiming high is great for business, it’s important to understand what your chosen agency can and can’t do for you.
Think of it this way, ad launches and PPC optimization probably can’t help you revive a product that’s been dead for 5+ years, or sell a product with a poor-market fit.
To hit it big in PPC advertising, patience is critical. In other words, you can’t expect to rake in cash from day 1. Finding the best fit can take time, and you will need to hold the fort in your existing campaigns while searching for an ad agency.
Also, it can take a while to test and find your stride. You must be ready to give the project time to mature and set realistic goals.
This next requirement relates to the ad agency you choose. They should have a solid track record in scaling PPC campaigns for eCommerce brands. Extra points if your chosen agency has experience scaling your product type.
Also, look for testimonials and case studies to get actual numbers and insight into their processes.
Pulling in sales at record rates? Level up your fulfillment strategy to match.
5 eCommerce advertising agencies to help you scale
When it comes to eCommerce advertising agencies, no two are the same. So, for best results, you’ve got to choose the right one for your current growth stage and long-term goals.
To help your search, we’ve compiled some of the top performing eCommerce advertising agencies on the market:
Best known for: Paid search on marketplaces and search engines, Shopping and Feed ads
Tinuiti is a big player in the performance marketing space, with more than $3 billion in digital media under its management and prestigious awards under its belt. Its expert knowledge across search, social media, and marketplaces allow its clients to have their pick in the channels they advertise on and how.
With a data-driven approach and custom-built strategy, Tinuiti optimizes ads for every stage of the customer journey for maximum impact.
Tinuiti also has an expansive portfolio spanning various niches such as beauty, jewelry, technology, consumer packaged goods, food and beverage, and wellness.
Best known for: Full funnel Facebook marketing, Google AdWords, cross-channel campaigns
With nearly 10 years in the eCommerce ad agency sector, MuteSix has built a name for itself as an expert in customer acquisition for direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands. Combining its knack for paid search with award-winning creatives, razor-sharp execution, and top-notch data analytics, MuteSix keeps conversions coming in for its clients.
Alongside Facebook’s advertising expertise, MuteSix has added channels like Amazon, Google, TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube to its repertoire. And something tells us this is just the beginning.
Best known for: AI-driven Amazon and Walmart Ad Optimization
Recognized for its expertise in Amazon and Walmart advertising, Teikametrics merges its extensive PPC knowledge with AI and innovative technology to drive results for eCommerce brands.
Teikametrics’ holistic, KPI-centered approach to PPC advertising equips it to optimize campaigns piece by piece to maximize returns. So, it’s not surprising that Teikametrics boasts an impressive clientele list across industries. This includes brands like NutriBullet, Clarks, e.l.f., and Splenda.
When Teikametrics isn’t serving its agency clients, you’ll find them educating eCommerce entrepreneurs and ad enthusiasts on how to uplevel their marketplace results with much-anticipated reports, webinars, articles, and more.
Best known for: Full-scale Amazon advertising
ChannelKey is an ROI-focused and data-driven Amazon ad agency on a mission to help brands drive growth on Amazon and beyond. With more than 15+ years on Amazon, it’s safe to say ChannelKey has seen it all. From the newer ad types like Amazon DSP to changing rules and strict requirements.
ChannelKey uses its deep knowledge of PPC ads to craft innovative growth strategies and creatives that help businesses scale. The result? More than $750 million in sales generated, 150,000 managed SKUs, and 167% client growth compared to the national average.
Best known for: Google ads management and optimization
Named a Top 3% PPC Agency by Google, LoudMouth Media is a multi-award-winning performance marketing agency with a stellar track record.
Specializing in PPC advertising, this Google Premier Partner uses effective digital strategies, ad optimization techniques, and data analysis to drive conversions for its clients.
Their dedication has paid off. 2,559% increase in PPC-generated revenue, 281% year-on-year upshoot in purchases from Facebook Ads, and 927% uptick in online transactions are just a few of their big wins that keeps clients coming back.
Get ahead with top-class PPC
Whether you’re a brick-and-mortar retailer looking for your next big break online, or an up-and-coming eCommerce store hoping to expand your digital territory, now is the time to uplevel your ad strategy.
To know whether joining forces with an eCommerce ad agency is a good idea, it’s critical to understand where your business is and where you want to take it.
But deciding to go ahead with hiring a PPC agency is only half the job. You’ve got to work with an ad agency with a solid track record of success, excellent communication, eCommerce experience, and fair rates. Combine your capital with the right eCommerce advertising agency, and watch your business reach new heights.
Gearing up for accelerated growth? Get your fulfillment process ready for the win.
Community Building Strategies For DTC Brands
There was once a day when TV commercials ruled the world. Over-the-top production quality, crowd-stopping visuals, and emotional storytelling were common methods brands used to grab people’s attention.
These days, people have grown numb to disruptive advertising techniques. Consumers want meaningful connections. They want to know brands care. As such, we’ve seen a dramatic shift toward personalization and community-building.
The secret sauce for DTC success is to create an immersive experience for consumers. Running a DTC brand is about more than selling products. Flourishing DTC brands curate the entire customer experience. Things aren’t slowing down either. This is just the beginning of the DTC takeover.
If you want to build a champion DTC brand at every step of the customer experience you need to build an affinity with your audience. In this article, we’re sharing our favorite strategies for building a strong DTC community.
How DTC brands differ from traditional retailers
The key difference between DTC and traditional retail is that DTC cuts out the middleman.
The traditional method of selling products relied heavily on go-between solutions for manufacturing, marketing, and sales. DTC brands, however, favor direct relationships with their suppliers and customers.
Rather than relying on out-of-home (OOH), television, or magazine ads, DTC brands reach customers directly through online mediums such as social media, YouTube, and podcasts.
Traditional retail tends to focus on the product experience and selling as many products as possible. DTC prioritizes the entire customer experience. They want to create a favorable experience every step of the way, not just at the point where people are ready to purchase. It’s evident that DTC is more focused on community and loyalty than one-time purchases.
Another key priority for DTC is hyper growth. Traditional brands often rely on longevity and brand heritage as an indicator of quality. Yet, brand age no longer holds as much value as it once did.
Tactics such as personalization, AI chatbots, reactive campaigns, and increased product development are some of the ways DTC brands are innovating at a faster rate. With increased innovation, these DTC brands are overtaking traditional brands on the road to hypergrowth.
Community + Loyalty = The secret to DTC success
Community and loyalty are arguably the secrets to running a successful DTC brand.
Consumers are more likely to be loyal to brands that offer higher quality products than competitors. Yet product quality isn’t the only influential factor over brand loyalty. Many consumers will stay loyal to a brand if they feel a strong sense of community.
Community-building is one thing that DTC brands get right. From a brand perspective, community-building means capturing customer loyalty with interaction and engagement. Loyal brand communities can be built naturally through customer reviews, feedback, and forums. These communities can also be curated through smart community-building strategies. Curated brand communities create a sense of exclusivity where community members feel like valued insiders.
Building brand communities also provide a coveted space for customers to share their feedback, wants, and challenges. These consumer insights can be used to tailor your brand to your ideal audience’s expectations and desires.
6 community-building strategies for DTC brands
Don’t leave community-building up to chance. Leverage the secret power of engaged brand advocates by tapping into these tried-and-test strategies for building strong DTC communities.
Get to know your audience
First things first, you need to understand your audience. If you don’t know who your audience is or what they care about, you won’t be able to create the product, content, or experiences they love.
Find out what makes your target customers tick by conducting audience research. Interview customers and carry out surveys to get to know your buyers better. Speaking with your customers and target audience is the best way to unearth their desires and challenges.
Talking to your audience also offers an opportunity to optimize your brand tone of voice — how do they speak? What’s their emoji use like? What phrases and slang words do they use? What would they never say?
Focus part of your audience research on uncovering the brands and channels they enjoy. If your target audience hangs out on TikTok, you know to add this channel into your marketing strategy. Looking at the other brands they engage with presents an opportunity to analyze these brands and find out what it is that people love about them.
Let your audience guide your brand strategy by focusing on adding value to their lives. Everything from product development to tone of voice, marketing campaigns, sales messaging, and design can be led by audience research.
Daye, a CBD tampon brand, is a DTC brand whose strategy is led by audience research. Daye goes beyond product-led marketing. Instead, they focus on sharing content informed by audience interests and values — sexual health, culture, and innovation. Being an active participant in these conversations allows Daye to show their audience that they care.
Daye also collaborates with other brands that are affiliated with their target audience. Partnering with Squish beauty, a purveyor of acne patches, allows Daye to increase their appeal to its younger audience members. Daye and Squish can use this collaboration to bolster both of their communities.
Content-wise, Daye can be found sharing relatable memes, educational threads, and empowering messages as a way to tap into audience interests.
Hone in on word-of-mouth recommendations
Word-of-mouth will likely always hold the reigning crown as the most powerful marketing tactic. Yet, how word-of-mouth looks will change over time.
Where word-of-mouth once focused on recommendations from friends and family, it now extends to peer-to-peer selling, referral schemes, and influencer relationships. There are countless opportunities to hone in on word-of-mouth recommendations as a brand.
Shoppers are actively seeking word-of-mouth recommendations before making a purchase — almost 50 percent of consumers will seek social media comments to learn what others think about a brand. But word-of-mouth recommendations aren’t a one-way street. Customers these days expect brands to actively respond to social media comments. Publicly responding to customer feedback is key to building a trusted community.
Word-of-mouth recommendations influence consumer emotions and intentions. Customers are more likely to be enthusiastic about your brand, feel more strongly affiliated, and be much more likely to purchase. Tapping into word-of-mouth marketing builds strong bonds with your target audience.
In the digital era, you can build a community through digital word-of-mouth methods such as influencer activation, affiliate marketing programs, referral schemes, and review platforms. Remember to engage with any recommendations and be active in online forums where consumers are discussing your products.
Direct peer-to-peer selling is one example of how word-of-mouth recommendations have undergone a digital transformation. In peer-to-peer selling, consumers become advocates as they buy products, share them with their peers, and encourage them to also make a purchase. Brands like Storr are capitalizing on the power of peer-to-peer selling.
Storr is a peer-to-peer sales channel that lets people make money selling brand-new goods with their peers. With Storr, anyone can open an online store to easily sell products they love and recommend. Storr’s model allows brands to acquire new customers based on trust, expanding their community every time a new customer comes via peer recommendations.
Inject some personality into your brand
Don’t be afraid to have fun — inject personality into your brand as a way to attract your ideal customers. If you want to build a cult following, you need to embrace your brand personality.
Think about it: people connect better with people. Personifying your brand makes it more relatable for people. Research shows that creating a strong brand personality can positively impact brand love. This heightened brand love subsequently increases brand loyalty, word-of-mouth, active engagement, self-disclosure, and a willingness to pay more.
Channeling a conversational tone of voice can increase customer affinity as they associate your brand with more ‘human’ qualities.
The translation app DuoLingo has nailed its brand personality and tone of voice. With 4.5 million followers (and counting) on TikTok, DuoLingo has successfully used its Duo mascot to personify its brand and grow an active community.
Looking toward a DTC retailer who has embraced their personality, we have Who Gives A Crap. Toilet paper isn’t the most glamorous product on people’s shopping lists. It’s something we all stock up on as part of our grocery shop, often without a second thought. Yet, Who Gives A Crap toilet paper has leveraged its brand personality as a way to revolutionize the way we see toilet paper brands.
With the fun tone of voice, quirky designs, and caring values, Who Give A Crap has built a bought-in community of followers. Who Gives A Crap encapsulates a down-to-earth tone of voice that makes them seem relatable to consumers. Their DTC brand started with a crowdfunding campaign engaging an early community of insiders by promising social media shout-outs, launch party invites, and branded swag in return for investment. Who Gives A Crap’s brand strategy has been informed by community-building tactics from the very start.
Leverage the power of live shopping
Get up close and personal with your customers with live shopping.
The immersive experience of live shopping goes beyond the norm of plain products on a shelf or online storefront. Live shopping offers real-time interaction and conversation. Use live shopping to offer a behind-the-scenes view of your brand or drum up hype for new product launches. Live shopping combines shopping with entertainment by drawing upon tactics such as expert collaborations and gamification.
35% of people purchase products after watching a brand’s social media live stream. If anything, this statistic demonstrates the power behind building authentic immersive experiences for your brand followers.
Recognizing the power of live shopping, TikTok is currently testing a live shopping feature that lets brands and creators sell products in real-time. Learning how to sell on TikTok is critical for nurturing a loyal brand community — and the addition of live shopping only makes TikTok a more central component for any DTC brand strategy. The rise of live shopping on TikTok’s UK platform is transforming the iconic ‘TikTok made me buy it’ phrase.
Image credit: Retail Insider
Outside of TikTok, many brands are already using live shopping as a core sales strategy. Shoe retailer, Aldo, hosted a live shopping event in partnership with celeb stylist Mimi Cuttrell and TikTok creator Nate Wyatt. Hosted on their native ‘Aldo Live’ landing page, the event saw a spike of 17,000 page views in the first five days following the event. The average viewing time was 12 minutes and six seconds and an engagement rate of 308% showed high levels of community interest.
Popping off on TikTok right now — e.g. Paula’s Choice https://www.tiktok.com/@paulaschoice / https://www.paulaschoice.com/on-the-rise – regular TikTok live shopping videos & work with 10 on the rise influencers to promote their skincare range and live shop
Focus on user-generated content
You get the idea by now — person-led content is king for building engaged communities. Forget corporate product-quality content, DTC brands that want to resonate with their audience need to zoom in on homegrown content creators.
Add a user-generated content (UGC) strategy into your marketing strategy to ensure you’re creating engaging content that resonates with your audience.
UGC refers to any content — be it text, videos, reviews, or images — that is created by people, not brands. Better yet, these people are everywhere. UGC creators can be anyone from your everyday customers to influencers and online content creators. These UGC creators can be found all over the internet; on TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, blogs, and podcasts.
Work with creators who resemble your audience as a way to build a strong community for your brand. Hire UGC content creators to create native content for your own channels and promote it on their channels. Working with content creators that have established audiences will help your brand forge connections with their community and, in turn, expand your own loyal following.
When bringing UGC into your marketing strategy, make it easy for everyday consumers to create and share content. Have a hashtag, incentivize people for sharing your brand online, tell them where to share (e.g. tag us on Instagram), offer templates and filters, and reshare their content to your channels too. UGC acts as social proof, letting other people know how consumers feel about your brand.
UGC generates deeper connections by humanizing your brand, much like crafting a unique brand personality. Even traditional brands have tapped into UGC such as Coca-Cola’s 2011 ‘share a coke’ campaign that encouraged people to take photos of their named beverages. While UGC isn’t a new concept, it has seen a significant uplift in recent years as more brands uncover the power of humanizing their brand.
Paula’s Choice is a skincare brand that understands the potential behind user-generated content. On their own social media channels, Paula’s Choice hosts share educational and entertaining user-generated content that busts common skincare myths, decodes ingredients, and cuts through scary jargon. They are also backed by their ‘on the rise’ team of ten skincare influencers who create user-generated content promoting Paula’s Choice.
UGC-led social media strategies are one of Paula’s Choice’s main tactics for nurturing their community. Their first-ever influencer campaign leveraged user-generated content. They hired 18 content creators and gifted 1,500 influencers to generate user-led content featuring their products. This campaign drove $963,000 in earned media value and was received positively by beauty and skincare fans.
Collaborate with your brand allies
Building trust can be hard when you’re just getting started. One way to make sure your brand reaches the right people is by collaborating with complementary DTC brands. The trick to successful brand collaborations is to make sure they are complementary brands rather than direct competitors.
Brand collaborations are a mutually-exclusive way to boost brand exposure and strengthen your communities. When finding great partners to collaborate with, revisit your audience research. Partner up with brands that your audience already loves. A pizza oven brand may, for example, want to partner with an outdoor furniture brand or a clothing brand might benefit from partnering with a haircare brand.
You can have fun with this community-building strategy. Take Glossier for example — the beauty brand Glossier partnered up with pet brand Bark on a limited-edition range of Glossier-branded pet toys. The team behind Bark originally approached Glossier for a collaboration after noticing how many Glossier companies were bringing dogs into the store. This fun campaign reflected the light-hearted nature of Bark’s brand personality while tapping into Glossier customers’ love of pets.
Wrapping up — Grow your DTC community
Community is everything in the world of direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands. Customers who feel like they belong to a community will have higher levels of brand loyalty and will be more engaged shoppers.
Community-building is a viable strategy for any DTC retailer that is willing to create immersive experiences. Get creative and don’t be afraid to add a flair of personality to your brand strategy.
Above all else, make sure your audience is at the heart of everything you do. From live shopping events to brand collaborations and user-generated content, creating unforgettable experiences for your audience is crucial for building loyal and engaged communities.
Here at MyFBAPrep, we offer seamless order fulfillment services for passionate DTC brands. You can focus on nurturing your community while we offer them the 5-star experience they expect to receive.
Looking for more DTC inspiration? Take a look at our ultimate list of DTC brands here.
Amazon Brand Protection: Report Highlights
As Amazon continues to experience record growth, it’s attracted small and medium-sized businesses in droves. However, it hasn’t been smooth sailing. Dubious sellers have slipped through the net using black hat tricks to improve their rankings and sales while sabotaging their competition, with schemes like hijacking and review manipulation. This problem has wreaked havoc on Amazon’s prized customer experience, not to mention the progress of good sellers.
Spotting this damaging development, Amazon has been on a quest to wipe out malpractice. In 2021, Amazon banned more than 3000 seller accounts for terms of service violations sparking a mass exodus of 600 brands overnight.
But even Amazon knows account closures aren’t enough to keep the opportunists and scammers at bay. That’s why Amazon has gone to great lengths to offer its sellers more security through its program, Amazon Brand Registry.
Amazon has now launched its 2022 report on Brand Protection, detailing its development and execution of tools and programs to combat criminal activity and abuse on its platform.
To help you optimize your Amazon selling strategy, we’ll explore what brand protection is and why it’s worth the investment to enroll. We’ll also highlight the must-know details from the 2022 progress report and how to take advantage of it as a participating brand.
Unsure how to protect your brand on Amazon? MyFBAPrep can get you up to scratch.
What is Amazon Brand Registry?
In 2017, Amazon decided to tackle the issues brand and shoppers were experiencing at the hands of criminals with the launch of the renowned Brand Registry program.
Amazon Brand Registry is a free protection service designed to shield brands from harmful actions such as counterfeiting, intellectual property (IP) infringement, and listing tampering. Whether you sell on Amazon or not you can enroll if you have a registered trademarked brand.
Solutions under Amazon’s Brand Registry umbrella have already racked up some impressive wins. These include more than 4 billion bad listings blocked before going live in stores. Also, more than 3 million counterfeits were detected, seized, and disposed of.
Pros and cons of Amazon Brand Registry
Interest may wane over time for some marketplace programs, but that’s not true for Brand Registry. In 2021, 700,000 businesses enrolled, a 40% jump on 2020. Brand Registry’s expansive protection measures and knowledge make it necessary for any eCommerce serious about scaling on Amazon.
But that’s not to say the Brand Registry program is faultless. To get a clearer understanding of Brand Registry’s value, let’s explore some pros and cons:
Benefits of Brand Registry
- Build a trustworthy image on Amazon: Being on the Brand Registry program doesn’t just protect your business. You can build a solid brand with access to A+ content, access to Vine, Sponsored Brand Ads, and brand analytics, and create multipage stores to mimic a typical eCommerce store experience.
- On-hand support for your brand: When things turn sour, dedicated teams and tech solutions will be on the case. For example, you can track suspected trademark infringements through tools like Amazon Patent Evaluation Express (APEX) and counterfeit identification through its Transparency solution and initiatives like Project Zero and Counterfeit Crimes Unit (more on these later). These protective measures allow you to avoid high reoccurrences of issues that affect your inventory turnover and customer experience.
Drawbacks of Brand Registry
- Slow approval process: Amazon requires a registered trademark as part of the approval process; for some brands, it can take 6 months or more. As a result, it can take a long time to enroll your brand, leaving it vulnerable. (However, if you use the IP Accelerator program, you can sign up with a pending trademark).
- Brand Registry isn’t a set and forget security solution: While Amazon’s tools and projects can catch and prevent harmful actions, it’s not a failproof solution for compliance or protecting your brand. You’ll need to stay vigilant and continually upgrade your security strategy and tools.
Have your current measures made your brand vulnerable to scammers? Discover how MyFBAPrep can secure your goods.
Amazon Brand Protection Report 2022: Top updates
Over the last few years, Amazon has invested heavily in expanding and improving its brand protection tools and initiatives, to uplevel the coverage it provides its enrollees and customers. Let’s breakdown the latest and most significant developments:
1. Amazon brand protection tools gather pace
Combining machine learning, automation, and data pooled from Brand Registry, Amazon has crafted innovative solutions such as the following Brand Registry tools:
Report a Violation tool
The Report a Violation tool helps sellers get support quickly when infringements arise. As a brand owner, you can not only look for and spot offending actions, but also submit a ticket and track its progress in a specially crafted dashboard. This tool continues to make positive contributions to the fight against infringements. In fact, Amazon saw a 25% drop in breaches since 2020.
Amazon Patent Evaluation Express (APEX) service
Tackling the complex world of utility patents, APEX focuses on helping brands protect themselves by submitting requests to Amazon to review potential violations. Amazon enlists the help of using an objective, third-party patent lawyer to assess the dispute. This approach allows for accurate case deliberation, protects brands, and preserves market competition.
Fortifying Amazon’s position in the war on counterfeits, Transparency enables brands to play an active role in blocking fake goods from infiltrating their supply chain. The tool equips Amazon to verify each product sent to its warehouses’ authenticity by scanning the Transparency-enabled code.
It also empowers brands to amplify their goods authentication strategy and gain customers’ trust credentials through their customers, to access this innovative solution on the go via a dedicated mobile app. Equipping customers to validate products increases your protection, without multiplying your team’s workload.
Project Zero has unlocked new levels of security coverage for Brand Registry participants. The initiative combines Amazon’s high-tech brand protection tools, self-service counterfeit listing removal capabilities, automated protections, and expansive knowledge of IP and counterfeit detection for a well-rounded defense.
For example, under Project Zero, the brand can remove harmful listings and can set automated protections that guard their interests around the clock. The multipronged approach to brand protection has been ground-breaking, with Amazon stating for every 1 listing removed by a brand in Project Zero, automated protections booted more than 1000 suspected violations.
Noticing that the lengthy approval process for obtaining trademarks prevented brands from adequately protecting themselves, Amazon launched the Amazon IP Accelerator. This program speeds up the timeline for brands to gain IP rights and brand protection on and off the Amazon marketplace.
Amazon’s IP Accelerator gives enrollees access to an extensive network of reputable IP companies at fair rates. The program continues to gain ground and is now available in places such as the US, EU, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Singapore, and Australia.
2. Collaborative Brand protection projects take center stage
In the past, Amazon focused its security-boosting measures on removing improper listings and deterring sellers from breaking the rules with stiff penalties. But the 2022 Brand Protection report revealed Amazon’s ambition to take a more holistic approach to security on their platform. Some notable changes include:
Enhanced seller verification for quality control
Verification on Amazon used to consist of an online application document submission, which Amazon Support would later approve or reject. However, the lack of in-person vetting made the process susceptible to manipulation.
As a result, Amazon has scaled up in-person verifications. Prospective sellers speak with an Amazon team member in a one-to-one online setting and confirm details such as their proof of identity, physical location, and payment method.
The enhanced security checks support Amazon’s machine learning vehicles. These analyze large data sets at scale, highlight threats, and help prevent people from securing seller accounts illegitimately. The new technology is so sophisticated that it can even identify connections to past bad actors.
Accountability as a security strategy
Gone are the days when an Amazon selling ban was the biggest retribution for shady sellers. Amazon has started to use the strong arm of the law to hold fraudulent sellers accountable. This has included setting up the Amazon Counterfeit Crimes Unit (CCU) in 2020 and suing 600 scammers and counterfeiters in 2021.
Cross-industry partnerships strengthen counterfeit prevention
To combat fake goods, Amazon has joined forces with industry associations around the globe. These include associations such as the Michigan State University’s Center for Anti-Counterfeiting and Product Protection (A-CAPP), Imaging Supplies Coalition (ISC), and International Anticounterfeiting Coalition (IACC).
Together they’ve created a memorandum of understanding to form best practices, trial new counterfeit prevention measures, and spot trends. Also, Amazon’s CCU leans on knowledge from those with backgrounds as data analysts, federal prosecutors, FBI agents, and law enforcement.
The Amazon CCU understands the importance of keeping up with industry trends to create innovative ways to find and stop bad actors. Consequently, they’ve brought suppliers, logistics companies’ sellers, fake invoice issuers, and even social media influencers to justice through counterfeit goods seizures and civil lawsuits.
Customer guarantees and support help Amazon preserve the customer experience after the counterfeit breach
As the battle continues against counterfeits, some customers will inevitably encounter bogus products in the marketplace. So Amazon is now using its generous customer refunds policy to stop the spread of counterfeit products and keep customers returning if they encounter fake products on the platform.
For example, if Amazon notices a product is not the real deal, they will contact the customer. Then alert them of the issue and offer a full refund without the customer needing to act. This approach protects the customer experience and sellers’ brand reputation.
Amazon elevates customer awareness to combat the spread of fakes
Putting into action the famous saying “knowledge is power,” Amazon is spending resources to boost customer understanding and awareness of counterfeiting. Some key activities include:
- Supporting the US government’s STOPfakes project.
- Launched a blueprint on how public and private sector partnerships can help stop counterfeits.
- Discussions about the blueprint between Amazon and policymakers on data sharing on criminal counterfeiting networks, government assistance, and attempted imports of counterfeit goods.
- A partnership with the International Trademark Association’s (INTA) Unreal Campaign and the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles to educate Gen Z shoppers about trademarks, intellectual property, and brand protection.
Quick tips to reinforce your Amazon brand protection measures
- Use tools like Helium 10, SellerSprite, and AMZAlert to track IP violations, hijacking attempts, and poor reviews.
- Monitor correct spellings and misspellings of your brand name with an IP monitoring tool to lead you to potential IP violators.
- Track and keep updated records on authorized sellers of your products.
- Update listings regularly to avoid missing issues and mistakenly flagging other sellers.
- Get proactive with your brand protection. Share your protective measures in your marketing and encourage shoppers to get involved.
- Phase-out products without the Transparency code. Work with manufacturers or fulfillment prep service to print or attach them to packaging.
- Take note of items in your portfolio that are continually flagged for counterfeits and find ways to deter counterfeits from selecting them.
Wrapping Up – Secure your eCommerce brand on Amazon and beyond
While Amazon continues to make huge strides towards building a safe, fair marketplace. This is only the beginning of the journey. Security on the Amazon marketplace is everyone’s responsibility. So, be proactive. Invest in trademarks and patents to shield your brand on every selling platform you use.
Also, implement robust preventative measures and monitor their effectiveness, tweaking them as you gain more intel. Encourage shoppers to be part of your protective measure by selling the value they gain and lean on technology to find potential violations and suspicious activity.
Get your brand protection strategy and your selling experience on Amazon right, and it will be a smoother, more enjoyable, and profitable ride.
Need a hand protecting your Amazon products? Learn how MyFBAPrep can help.
“Protecting brands against infringement requires constant vigilance and continuous innovation. The valuable information provided by brands via Brand Registry allows us to proactively prevent infringing products from surfacing in our stores worldwide. We take great pride in our mission to protect brands and customers.” — Raj Kizhakkekalathil, Director, Brand Registry, Amazon
A Practical Guide to Switching 3PLs
The secret is out — eCommerce is on the up. Digital buyers have soared from 1.3 billion in 2014 to 2.14 billion in 2021, and sales are set to reach $7.3 trillion by 2025. But a lesser-known fact is that supporting services like 3PLs are also expanding and elevating, with the 3PL industry set to reach $1.78 billion by 2027.
Put the strengths of these two expanding industries together, and you have the materials to build an online selling powerhouse. But as you traverse the eCommerce road, there may come a time when changing 3PLs is the best move.
We’ll admit there’s much to plan and execute to make a 3PL switch successful, but don’t despair. We’ve compiled everything you need to know about making a seamless jump and up-leveling your fulfillment services.
In this guide, we’ll:
- Uncover the top scenarios jumping ship from one 3PL to the next makes sense.
- Explore the fulfillment choices available and how to set the stage for success.
- Reveal some things to watch out for along the way to help your business stay on track.
In the market for a new fulfillment service? Look no further than MyFBAPrep.
7 Eye-opening signs it’s time to switch 3PLs
If you’re questioning whether it’s the right season to move on from your 3PL or if their actions warrant such drastic action, you’re not alone. Timing and objective reasoning are essential to making the right decision. To help answer the burning questions on whether it’s time to cut ties with your 3PL, let’s explore some common issues eCommerce entrepreneurs have encountered that inspired them to pull the plug:
1) Constant inventory and shipping errors and inaccuracies
Did you know great customer experience is so important that 86% of shoppers are willing to pay more to get it? If your 3PL’s lack of service negatively impacts your brand experience and reputation, causing one too many sleepless nights, change is imminent. Without shift action, loyal customers may turn elsewhere and, worse still, tell their friends about their poor experience.
2) Fast yet unsupported business growth
Say your business has exceeded its growth targets and shows no signs of slowing down. It’s a great scenario, except your 3PL can’t cope with your growth rate. Their internal processes become overwhelmed with no remedy. If this sounds like the challenge your business is experiencing, it could be time to say goodbye.
3) A need for increased efficiency
As your eCommerce business scales, you may notice inefficiencies holding back its profitability, productivity, and smooth running. If your 3PL isn’t trying to upgrade their services and performance, you’ll soon outgrow them, dampening your business’ potential.
4) Your logistics and fulfillment are too expensive
Perhaps your 3PL has had a few price hikes; warehousing has become more expensive in the network your 3PL uses, or a change in couriers has caused charges to shoot up. Either way, it could be time to go if the margins no longer make financial sense.
5) Lack of technology-enabled solutions
In today’s digitized, hyper-competitive market, basic systems, and old-school technology hold your brand back from its potential. Soon, missed opportunities and threats, haywire order management, and lack of supply chain visibility become the norm, wiping away your competitive edge. So, if it feels like you’re running your eCommerce business’ operations in the dark ages, it’s time to move on.
6) Poor communication
Does your fulfillment provider disappear for days and sometimes weeks, only to reach out in a panic with an emergency? This setup puts your business on a fast track to costly disasters that will obliterate all of your hard work and progress. Don’t wait for issues to arise; get out while you still can.
7) Limited services stifling growth and expansion
Perhaps you run an international store and ship orders around the clock, yet your 3PL only has 8 hours of customer support at one timezone. While this may seem harmless on a good day, when issues arise outside of these service hours, you’ll be left to fend for yourself, which could spell huge trouble for your business.
Fulfillment and logistics: What are my options?
Once you’ve decided to part ways with your existing 3PL, the next task is to examine the replacement fulfillment options available. Let’s cover some of the best services for a growing eCommerce store along with their advantages and drawbacks:
1) Choose another traditional 3PL
A 3PL takes over the management of critical tasks in your supply chain to drive optimal productivity and efficiency rates. While the 3PL assists your store with fulfillment-related tasks, you’ll maintain control of your supply chain. Such tasks include:
- Stock distribution
- Inventor management
- Fulfillment (picking, packing, and shipping)
There are 3 kinds of 3PLs you can explore (note some 3PLs may combine these services):
- Distribution/warehousing-driven 3PL: Concentrates on storing inventory, shipping, and managing returns.
- Transportation-centered 3PL: Focuses on the movement of goods for your store. E.g., shipping the stock from manufacturers to warehouses and from storage facilities to customers.
- Data/finance-focused 3PL: Assesses your industry’s trends and helps you optimize operations and finances accordingly. Some services they offer include cost accounting, inventory management, and freight auditing.
Pros of traditional 3PLs
- Maintain flexibility: Unlike a fixed logistics setup, most 3PLs allow you to scale services up or down quickly without much trouble, helping your brand stay nimble. So, whether your store has slow seasons that require reduced fulfillment operations temporarily, or has plans to expand overseas, a 3PL can help.
- Improve specific fulfillment tasks: Since you can cherry-pick which fulfillment tasks you hand over to a 3PL, you have the opportunity to optimize select parts of your supply chain. This way, you can maintain any strategies or processes that produce positive results, while upgrading any underperforming areas.
- Track inventory easily: One of a 3PLs greatest strengths is inventory tracking. From the moment your stock enters the 3PL’s ecosystem, you can get (sometimes live) information on where the product is. This trait is especially beneficial if your store holds many SKUs or high volumes.
- Going pro can lead to quicker growth: Access to professional help from an experienced and reliable 3PL allows you to focus on your core competencies and scale faster. In other words, you’ll get the chance to work “on” instead of “in” the business.
Cons of traditional 3PLs
- Costs may rack up: Depending on your business’ size, you’ll spend significant cash during the switch. This is due to things like needing a new order processing set up, backorders, and admin.
- 3PLs are restricted to optimizing logistical operations: You can’t depend on a 3PL to optimize your entire supply chain and may have restrictions in their tech capabilities. You’ll need to seek additional fulfillment solutions elsewhere to boost productivity and efficiency.
- It can be difficult to distinguish between different 3PL services: When you’ve been burned by 3PLs promising stellar results with similar services but don’t deliver, it can be challenging to know what solutions will work for your business and who you can trust.
2) Opt for a modern, all-inclusive fulfillment service
Modern fulfillment services offer everything 3PLs provide and more. Some call themselves 4PLs, while others opt for names like an all-inclusive fulfillment solutions provider, helping you to execute your supply chain and fulfillment quickly and easily.
These service providers have expansive warehousing and fulfillment networks, allowing them to offer ancillary services from marketplace prep services to freight forwarding for direct-to-consumer and B2B retail goods.
Most modern fulfillment providers’ tech-backed structure enables them to compile large data pools. These help them spot potential threats and opportunities in your supply chain and global markets.
Pros of modern fulfillment providers
- Access to more growth-fuelling solutions: Modern fulfillment services offer a wider selection of services than typical 3PL providers. These allow you to uplevel your whole supply chain instead of just operations involving packing and shipping goods to customers. For example, you can get help with tasks like customs clearance, access to warehouses in key locations, shipping networks, and faster, more cost-effective transportation.
- Optimize operations to fit your brand mission and goals: The possibilities are endless when you team up with a modern fulfillment provider. For example, if customer satisfaction is your top priority, you could work with the fulfillment provider to offer services like paperless returns, same-day shipping, and pick-up. In short, you’ll get all benefits from a 3PL plus more.
- Keep your store in everyone’s good books: From Wish to Amazon, selling on marketplace platforms comes with specific requirements and strict rules. These duties tally up to a considerable amount of work for a fledgling eCommerce business. Handing over the reins to a fulfillment house will help you avoid mishaps and provide exceptional service to customers.
Cons of modern fulfillment providers
- May not be cost-effective for low volumes: Many modern fulfillment providers have high minimums for fulfillment services to ensure their services make financial sense for their business. As a result, even the lowest service tier may be unprofitable if you can’t guarantee your brand will hit the minimum units you sign up for.
- Cutting ties is no easy feat: It can be challenging and expensive to move on from a 4PL because they weave into your entire supply chain, and you hand over oversight of key supply chain management duties.
- Loss of control: While you will have strategic input and overall power since modern fulfillment services take over the management in key areas in your supply chain, you’ll lose the ability to make day-to-day decisions on your inventory, transportation, and fulfillment.
Looking for a way to get ahead? Give your fulfillment services a makeover with MyFBAPrep.
How to switch fulfillment services seamlessly
While changing your fulfillment solution can be a long and winding road, you can still ensure the process runs smoothly. For this, you’ll need a plan and a can-do attitude to execute it. Here are the steps to take:
Understand your business needs
No eCommerce has the same circumstances. So, gaining clarity on your store’s existing and upcoming needs is critical. So, examine how the following areas impact your fulfillment requirements:
- Monthly orders: Crunch your numbers to find an average order amount. This number will help you filter through the set order minimums from fulfillment providers.
- Seasonality: Do sales drop suddenly in the summer? Or maybe you experience accelerated sales velocity in the fall? Map out your sales peaks and valleys to understand how much fulfillment supports your store’s needs and when.
- Supplier relationships: Take note of which suppliers are easy to work with as well as the unreliable ones that need replacing to make a switch over successful.
- Manufacturing timelines: Jot down how long it takes to create and package each SKU and how this impacts restocking times and shipping options.
- Growth projects: Compile all of the projects you have underway or in the works that will help your business scale, e.g., cross-border expansion and going multichannel.
- Scaling goals: Define where your store will be in the next 1-5 years and the revenue goals you intend. Observe how many units you’ll need to hit these targets to share with potential fulfillment partners.
- Marketing: If you have any seasoned ad or influencer campaigns that generate large orders, observe how many orders they produce and how it’ll impact your inventory and fulfillment needs.
- Sales channel(s): Understand how the results each store you have produces each quarter, and the setup needed to maintain fulfillment speed, cost-effectiveness, and customer satisfaction.
Tip: Distinguish between nice-to-haves and essential services to keep solutions and costs lean.
Define your obligations under your existing 3PL contract
Legal troubles can slow down your 3PL switch over or even bring it to a screeching halt. Checking your duties to your current 3PL is essential to avoid legal disputes. Some questions to ask include:
- Does it make more financial sense to cancel the contract or see it through to completion?
- Will we need help from a lawyer to terminate the contract early?
- How much will it cost to enlist, and how long will it take?
- Does your contract require the services to end immediately, or is there a defined handover period?
Vet potential fulfillment providers
Once you know where your business stands strategically and legally, it’s time to sift through fulfillment providers to find your match. While no solution will be perfect, the right provider will tick the right boxes, considering your business goals, needs, and circumstances. Some traits to look for in your fulfillment provider include:
Your new fulfillment provider should have the knowledge and skills needed to serve fast-scaling online stores and facilitate the necessary pivots you’ll undertake. They should also know how to handle the products you stock or intend to carry, and the channels you plan to sell on.
It’s essential your fulfillment provider has high-spec technology that sharpens your execution in key tasks from order delivery to cost minimization. For example, it has tech tools that allow for budget preservation through shipment bundling and shipping box optimization. These solutions will help you maintain a competitive advantage and boost ROI.
Full supply chain visibility
Having a fulfillment partner that allows you to monitor your supply chain from end to end is a must-have for long-term success. It’s also helpful if they can provide alerts on any potential issues or needs, e.g., restocking and shipping delay alerts.
From pricing to processes, transparency should be part of your prospective fulfillment providers’ culture. This information will help you keep operations profitable and effective.
Nobody likes surprises on their monthly invoice from costly fulfillment services. Big bills can not only wipe away your margins but can also cause you to dip into budgets set aside for growth-related projects. However, it’s also not a great idea to opt for the cheapest solution, leaving you questioning what you should do. The answer is to work with a fulfillment provider whose service quality matches their pricing and doesn’t leave your business operating with slim returns.
An expansive fulfillment partner network
Fulfillment doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Your provider will need to lean on other providers for things like warehousing, freight services, couriers, and more. So, they should make a continuous effort to improve and expand their network.
Varied and expanding capabilities
eCommerce is constantly changing, and as a result, your store needs to stay ahead of the curve with its tech stack and strategy. Consider each potential 3PL or 4PLs best skills and how they fit into your eCommerce business plans. For example, say you run a coffee-growing business and want to launch a new product collection each quarter in different countries. Your chosen fulfillment provider would need to:
- Have temperature and moisture control storage and shipping
- Adequate warehouse availability in key regions within each country
- Enough staff to serve orders on the existing and new products
Reviews and references
No matter how accomplished a fulfillment provider appears, always do your due diligence. Obtain references and recommendations from trusted sources such as people in your network and trade journals. This approach will help weed out fulfillment providers that are a poor fit, lackluster performers, or scammers. Don’t forget to look at their disaster recovery plans to make sure they have the procedures to stay operational if trouble strikes.
Tired of your 3PL dropping the ball? Start afresh with MyFBAPrep.
Create a realistic transition plan
To ensure your store switches successfully while maintaining good operations, establish the project scope in terms of time, cost, and effort required. You should also consider how you will monitor the budget, key milestones, and deliverables to stay on track. As a guide, some tasks to complete during your handover are to:
- Conduct internal risk assessment
- Create a detailed project plan, including each phase and target launch date (plus time buffers)
- Schedule meetings with a potential solution provider
- Conduct an onsite analysis
- Share product profiles
- Sell off overstocks
- Write off and dispose of deadstock
- Pack stock for relocation
- Arrange transport for stock removal
- Ensure adequate stock distribution for each key location
- Test run your potential fulfillment providers with one location or product
- Test your systems
- Ensure equal service quality across locations
- Confirm onboarding targets with the new fulfillment provider
- Validate Statement of Work agreement details with your new fulfillment providers
- Understand billing requirements and put them into the new contract
- Negotiate your billing schedule to maximize your cash flow
- Move stock from your existing to the new solution
- Communicate with customers that there may be some backorders and delays as you switch
Top tip: Don’t clear out your entire stock from your existing fulfillment provider as you make the switch. Keep enough units per SKU to avoid stockouts during the transition period (plus a few additional pieces as a buffer).
6 Things to watch when switching 3PLs
With global supply chain issues, changing customer preferences, and evolving market trends, it’s important to stay in the know on the latest information to keep your new 3PL partnership on track as you change over. Here are some scenarios to consider:
1) How changes in service requirements impact fulfillment costs
Most eCommerce businesses don’t stay with the same strategy they started out with. However, a turnaround in your product type, shipping carrier preferences, or market can cause pricing to fluctuate. So, monitoring how adjustment impact will impact your fulfillment profitability is vital.
2) How communication impacts inventory protection during transportation
To protect your stock investment, it’s critical you communicate the transportation and storage requirements for every SKU in your product portfolio. Highlight any items that require temperature control, gentle handling (e.g. fragile and flammable items) along with any specific dunnage, boxing, and unloading required to get your plan together for the safe transportation of your stock.
3) The time needed for adequate tech and systems syncing
Your dashboards must be properly configured to share sales data and supply chain information accurately. So, you’ll need to think about how long it will take to onboard each product SKU and ASIN. Also, you’ll require time estimates for integrating your 3PL or 4PL’s warehouse, inventory, and transportation management systems with your supply chain’s tech solutions.
4) The way product loading styles affect costs
Shipments requiring extra attention can become costly and slow to process. To keep your supply chain running efficiently, work with your manufacturers and suppliers to pack goods in a way that will avoid hefty unloading and processing charges. Some tactics to implement include are:
- Avoid floor-stacked containers. Opt for single or double-stacked pallets
- Separate boxes on a per SKU basis
- Ensure each product has a scannable barcode (unless you have requested prep services)
5) How new warehouse locations will impact fulfillment speed
It’s unlikely your new provider will have warehouses in the exact locations of your existing provider. Consequently, shipping speed can change from what you’re used to. Ensure your new warehousing and fulfillment sites can meet the service speed and quality levels your customers are accustomed to, map out new warehouses and distribution centers and formulate a plan to move goods. For example, suppose your new warehouse locations are further out than your existing 3PL or 4PL. In that case, you could pool top-selling goods in optimal areas within each warehouse and increase the number of delivery pickups for faster dispatch.
6) How adequately do your contract terms protect your business
Trust is important in any relationship, but when you consider things like inevitable management changes, market shifts, and business shakeups, it’s easy for responsibilities to become muddled without guidance outlined on paper. It’s wise to have detailed contracts outlining your 3PL or 4PL obligations and your store’s responsibilities. Some key information to add includes:
- Shipping targets (speed, accuracy, cost)
- Service terms and conditions
- Who will pay for damaged and lost goods
- Insurance coverage given
- Product safety and quality assurances
Wrapping up – Changing 3PLs the right way
When you’ve become comfortable with a 3PL, yet its results start to wane, it’s easy to go back and forth on whether switching will harm or hinder your progress. However, when done correctly, moving on from a 3PL can supercharge growth, customer satisfaction, and financial rewards.
Making the switch will take hard work, strategic planning, capital, and detective-like vetting of prospective service providers. Take the opportunity to implement new services that will help you grow and be prepared to stay the course to iron out any kinks in your new partnerships. Soon, fulfillment issues will be headaches of the past, and your store will have a 3PL partnership it can rely on for its next growth phase and beyond.
It’s never too late to upgrade your fulfillment services. Discover how MyFBAPrep can set you up for success.