Author: Tom Wicky
The Importance of eCommerce Inventory Insurance And How to Choose The Right Provider
Ever suffered a stock loss?
If so, you’re not alone. In 2020, 15% of US retailers experienced an inventory shrink of 3% or higher, and only 10% said they saw stock losses between 1% and 1.24%. These figures may not sound like much, but losses can rack up to eye-watering amounts when operating with high sales volume or selling expensive goods.
Not only is this experience painful, but your business will have to foot the hefty bill solo without a lifeline. Worse, the unrealized sales still impact your store’s profits and overall ROI, rubbing more salt into the already gaping wound.
Luckily, for an eCommerce business, that lifeline is inventory insurance.
In this post, we’ll explore what inventory insurance is and what it’s not. We’ll also share some perks of using this type of cover and tips on selecting the best insurer for your business.
Still nursing wounds from stock losses and damage. Learn how MyFBAPrep can keep your inventory safe.
What is inventory insurance?
Inventory insurance is protection you buy to cover physical stock in your business. While buying stock cover is a necessity for all eCommerce businesses, it becomes especially useful in scenarios such as:
- Brands experiencing fast growth
- Cross-border selling
- Selling items that are known to have high defect rates, e.g., electronics
- Retailing goods with a short shelf-life, e.g., consumables.
Costs can vary depending on the service level you choose along with factors like inventory spec, the type of cover you need, and your business’ claim history.
What does inventory insurance usually cover?
You can choose what issues and circumstances to cover by carefully vetting your provider and matching them to your store’s unique requirements. As a base, most insurers offer protection against issues like:
- Late dispatch/arrival
What inventory insurance doesn’t cover
Inventory insurance doesn’t cover assets or areas in your business besides stock. For example, if you want indemnity for operational ceasing, litigation, or employees, you’ll need to seek additional insurance policies.
5 Tempting benefits of inventory insurance
By now, you probably have a few different policies in your eCommerce business and are questioning whether the extra financial commitment to inventory insurance is worth it. In short, it is! Let’s run through a few reasons why purchasing cover for your stock is always a good idea:
1. Security when disaster strikes
Whether it’s flood damage to inventory during peak season or a warehousing blip that leads to large stockpiles expiring, disasters happen. Getting inventory cover will ensure you can get back on track sooner by reducing your risk exposure, so you can rest easy at night.
2. Protect yourself from known issues
It’s easy to worry about the unknown sneaking up on you and neglect the stock-related problems you often encounter, that can derail your progress. For example, if you sell fragile goods or operate in an area where inventory theft is common, you could frequently find yourself with stock-related losses.
Buying inventory insurance can help you stay steps ahead of the common problem you encounter to minimize damage.
3. Get access to essential eCommerce services
For many services and solutions, insurance is a right of passage to do business. So, if you want to work with a fulfillment house, 3PL, or multiple carriers, inventory insurance comes in handy. You’ll have peace of mind knowing if anything happens to your goods while in their care, your insurance will kick in to save the day.
4. Show investors their cash is in safe hands
Nobody likes to lose money, not even investors. Inventory insurance can help reassure your investors their cash won’t go up in flames if you experience stock loss. It’ll also give them more confidence that your business can remain agile and recover in the event of stock losses.
5. Maintain a good buyer experience
Even when things go wrong, inventory insurance will give you the cash flow to fix problems for your buyers. As a result, your buyer experience can escape unscathed, protecting your brand reputation and future sales.
What to look for from your inventory insurance provider
To get the best provider and insurance cover, it’s critical to vet providers carefully. There are many questions you can ask and traits to require to whittle down the list of viable insurance options. Here are a few characteristics to look out for:
- Fair terms, service levels, and rates. Whether you opt for the premium or basic cover, insurance that gives you your money’s worth is essential for solid ROI. Your provider should also offer fair terms and rates, with the option to upgrade or downgrade your plan.
- Flexible policy periods and extensions. eCommerce is constantly changing, and your policy should be too. Opt for a plan that allows you to adjust its setup when needed. For example, switching from yearly to monthly payments is hassle-free.
- Satisfactory claim windows. Ensure your plan offers reasonable terms on when you can begin claiming once signed up and the timeframe for making a claim when catastrophe strikes. This will help avoid stressful rushing to claim during peak seasons.
- Low to no charges to make a claim and hikes following a claim submission. Choose plans with affordable claim charges that won’t punish you financially for making claims by imposing larger premiums. Depending on the big claim, a small hike in the premium price may be feasible.
- Complete reimbursement for eligible claims. Buy insurance that will payout 100% of the cost of the goods when damaged to ensure you aren’t left out of pocket.
- Multi-site coverage. Look for insurance covering multiple locations and territories where your inventory is stored and sold.
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Tips for picking the right inventory insurance plan
Now we know what to look for in an inventory insurer, it’s important to craft a strategy to choose the right service and know when to tweak it for optimal cover.
Let’s dive into the steps to take.
Record which items need insuring
First up on the inventory insurance to-do list is to create a physical asset list and decide which items need coverage. Use this list to set the budget and service level you require. Your stock list should include information such as:
- Product name and a short description
- Price and manufacturing dates
- Current number of units in stock (per SKU)
- The average number of units in stock per month (per SKU)
- Item cost
- Product recommended retail price (RRP)
- Serial numbers
Tip: Take note of important details such as inventory location(s), the time it takes to produce each product, and the Units you sell per month to give insurers. This information will help them advise on the most suitable plan for your business.
No matter how good the deal may look, never take the first offer. Explore different options and seek advice from multiple companies on the type of cover you should procure.
Obtain quotes, compare prices, and use them to get even deal quotes. It may seem like a lot of work upfront, but since your inventory will be an ongoing expense, it’s worth the extra time and effort to secure the best rates and services.
Only work with reliable and experienced providers
Make sure your inventory insurance plan is legitimate, and the issuing company is trustworthy and experienced to avoid issues later down the line. A few things to look for in your inventory insurance provider include:
- A solid track record for dealing with cases justly
- Overall positive reviews and testimonials
- Good payout rate
- Quick response rate
- Excellent communication
Conduct annual reviews
As your business matures, its inventory may change along with its required cover. So keep your stock list updated for easy monitoring and track your claims frequency, reasons, and success rate. Also, make a note to re-evaluate your inventory insurance needs to guarantee it continues to meet your business needs. Some areas to consider when reassessing your inventory insurance are:
- Portfolio size
- Product complexity
- Territories traded in
- Number of claims that year
Have a cash buffer
Sadly, not all claims will be eligible for a payout like “acts of God” unless your policy outright says it’s covered. So, have sufficient emergency cash reserves to protect your business. This amount can vary depending on your product costs. However, aim to have enough cash to meet your minimum required stock units for your top products, manufacturing minimum order quantities, and funds for expedited shipping.
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Wrapping up — Strengthen your defenses with inventory insurance
Stock loss poses a real threat to eCommerce sellers’ and retailers’ long-term success. Inventory insurance creates invisible, ironclad walls around your eCommerce business to ensure it thrives come rain or shine.
Understand your business needs, research the best inventory insurance providers in your territory, and evaluate multiple quotes to find the best fit. Keep an eye on your business’s changing needs and adjust your insurance plan accordingly to ensure you don’t get left out of pocket when something goes wrong with your inventory.
Take these steps, and soon, you’ll have inventory insurance that protects investments and helps your store grow through the highs and lows of eCommerce.
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7 Essential Growth Tools For eCommerce Sellers
But when you have an ever-growing to-do list and not enough hours in the day to complete them all, scaling can feel like an uphill battle. Don’t fret. That’s where growth-focused tools come to share the load and get you paid.
In this post, we’ll share why investing in a robust tech stack is a good idea when taking your eCommerce brand to the next level. We’ll also share the best business areas to strengthen with tech tools and which solutions are worth your dollars.
Worried about blending in? Learn how MyFBAPrep uses technology to set eCommerce brands apart.
Why it pays to upgrade your tech stack when scaling
Whether it’s the latest social media craze or profit-boosting selling strategy, there are many worthwhile investments you could be making in your eCommerce business. So, you may be questioning whether up-leveling your store’s technology is the best move. We think so! Let’s explore some reasons why:
Gain a competitive advantage
Many brands focus on sales and marketing, but improving your backend processes can pay huge dividends. With top-tier tools in your corner, you can achieve incredible feats. These include removing inefficiencies, slashing costs, increasing brand visibility, and uplevel customer service. Plus, smoother processes and happier customers will improve brand loyalty and advocacy to get your store leaps ahead of its competitors.
Get more done with less input
Running a business doesn’t mean you and your team must wear all the hats. Take advantage of automation to streamline processes and uplevel key areas in your business without increasing your team’s workload. This way you’ll have more time and energy to focus on other important tasks that can’t be entirely automated like sales calls and product development.
See bigger growth and profits
You never want to scale for scaling’s sake. The numbers should make sense. That’s what makes technology so valuable for growing eCommerce brands. You can gain access to actionable insights and the right tools to help you improve key metrics like return on investment, customer lifetime value, and average order value for bigger profits and sales.
7 critical areas to optimize for massive growth
Now you have a clearer idea of why technology is so critical when scaling; the next question becomes which parts of your business you should improve for faster and sustainable growth. Let’s dive into the 7 areas to focus on:
1) Product research
Spotting upcoming product trends and launching new lines are essential for increasing and diversifying your store’s income streams. Investing in a reputable product research tool can help you make more accurate predictions on buying trends to expand your winning product portfolio.
2) Onsite optimization
It’s important to understand how customers behave on your website. From here you can tweak your store’s setup to increase the quality of their shopping experience and make buying irresistible. That’s where Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) comes in.
Using conversion boosting solutions like heatmaps, split testing software, and landing page builders, you can uplevel your store’s CRO to squeeze more cash out of your sales pages, websites, and marketing campaigns.
3) Cart optimization
Optimizing your pre and post-sale cart strategy is an effective way to get more sales through your digital doors. Some helpful tools include upsells and cross-sell software, cart recovery solutions, and live on-site customer support.
Data can reveal hidden gems essential for molding your eCommerce marketing strategy to produce bigger and better results. For example, with eCommerce analytics software, you can zoom in on your store data to reveal things like your:
- Top performing product(s)
- Emerging customer and product trends
- Best content assets
- Most popular marketing channels
5) Product Listing
Listing optimization is another crucial task to add to your list. A dependable product listing solution will help you upload products to different channels and keep your listings fresh for better rankings.
Data from your chosen product lister can help you find the optimal messaging, branding, and imagery combinations that resonate with your target audience. A dependable product listing solution will help you upload products to different channels and keep your listings fresh for better rankings. Look for features like automated listing and dynamic content.
6) Product pricing
eCommerce has more players than ever, making it vital to competitively price to stand out. A product repricing solution will help you overcome pricing blocks that prevent lookers from turning into buyers. Find a tool that can change prices based on market trends and behavior for best results.
7) Supply chain management
From tracking purchase orders and product locations to monitoring stock levels and customer orders, you must know what’s happening in your store. Look for a tool to help you predict demand, monitor inventory levels, spot trends and opportunities, and save cash on shipping, transport, fulfillment, and more.
Pro tip: Work with a reliable fulfillment or prep house to level up your order processing and shipping and get more value from your supply chain management solution.
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7 growth-boosting tools for scaling eCommerce brands
Whatever growth stage your business is at, tools are available to help you reach your goals. But be warned, the tech market is huge and you’ll need to set aside time to find the best fit. To give you a head start on your search, here are our top picks by business area:
1) Product research: Helium 10
Product highlights: Keyword finder, product performance monitoring, listing optimizer, fraud alerts
Backed by ground-breaking AI and marketplace data, Helium 10 is one of the most powerful product research tools on the market. With this comprehensive solution, you can get product ideas, verify sales data, track product performance, and find keywords for Amazon and Walmart. Helium 10 also has a brand protection tool to help monitor inventory, track refunds, and spot listing fraud. Pick and mix the tools or opt for the full suite; the choice is yours.
2) Cart optimization: Optinmonster
Product highlights: Personalization, cart recovery, template library, behavior-based automation, A/B testing
With a solid reputation for helping brands drive more leads and boost conversions, it’s no surprise Optinmonster’s Cart Abandonment solution delivers. As a user, you’ll benefit from message personalization technology and behavior-led automation, an extensive template library A/B testing capabilities, and more. So, if abandoned carts are hurting your store’s growth potential Optinmonster is a solution to have on your radar.
3) CRO: Hotjar
Product highlights: Colored-coded heatmaps, live feedback boxes, surveys
From colored-coded customer movement tracking to real-time feedback and surveys, Hotjar opens up a whole new world on your website. Uncover what shoppers need on your website now to informed decisions on what optimizations to make for higher conversions. Plus, you can clip parts of your recorded insights to store and share with your team. This makes for easier and more precise insight distribution.
4) Analytics: Kissmetrics
Product highlights: High-spec analytics, simple-to-understand dashboard, sophisticated tools
Using innovative analytics and simple dashboards, Kissmetrics helps you understand your customer journey, marketing strategy, and product selection’s effectiveness to supercharge growth. Kissmetrics also reveals who your audience consists of and allows you to visualize funnels through detailed reports for easier optimization. If you need better insights that see shoppers as people and not data points, Kissmetrics is the ticket.
5) Product pricing: Repricer
Product highlights: Competitor spying, pre-defined pricing strategies, actionable dashboard insights, Cross-channel repricing
With billions of products adjusted each week and proud members of Amazon marketplace’s Developer Council and Google Partner program, Repricer knows what it takes to price competitively on eCommerce marketplaces. Combining accurate insight analysis with competitor performance tracking, Repricer helps you grab shoppers’ attention, secure more buy box wins and increase profits. Choose from pre-defined strategies and track your results on an action-focused dashboard to uplevel your pricing positions and get ahead.
6) Product listing: Zentail
Product highlights: Bulk listing, automated change management, custom reports, multichannel listing
A bulk listing tool, price management, inventory management, multichannel listing, and business analytics are just a few of the perks you’ll gain access to when you onboard Zentail.
Tap into Zentail’s alerts and timely advice for listing issues and revolutionary change management solutions that alter your data according to new requirements. With Zentail you can not only keep your brand remains within terms of service but scale product lines across channels with ease.
7) Supply chain management: Preptopia
Product highlights: warehouse communication channels, store and inventory analytics, threat and opportunity finder.
Leveraging store performance insights, native integrations, and analytics for opportunity and threat spotting, Preptopia ensures you have clarity on your supply chain 24/7. Communicate with your warehouses, monitor inventory levels, create stock orders, and calculate profits on the Preptopia platform to keep your business on track and customers satisfied. Plus, you can combine this solution with MyFBAPrep’s reliable fulfillment and prep services for a post-purchase experience your customers won’t forget in a hurry.
Looking for a supply chain management solution you can trust? Preptopia is all you need.
Thrive with eCommerce technology
Investing in better eCommerce tools helps generate more sales and create higher customer satisfaction, margins, and efficiency. To ensure your tech stack is built to win, they’ll need to complement your support of your store’s biggest needs, accommodate existing marketing strategies, and put you in a position to make the vision for your store a reality.
So, research tools thoroughly, complete test runs, and continue to upgrade as your eCommerce business matures. Make the right investments now, and you’ll reap the rewards for years to come.
Innovative technology is essential for getting ahead in today’s competitive market. Discover how MyFBAPrep can help you win.
How to Leverage Shopify Collabs to Boost Your Marketing
Thinking about giving influencer marketing a try? The stats are on your side.
Whether you sell clothing or car accessories, influencer marketing effectively gets the word out about your brand, builds consumer trust, and drives sales.
And, if you sell on Shopify, good news!
Shopify is one of the latest brands to tap into the booming creator marketing industry with a new program, Shopify Collabs. Built to help brands like yours win big by working with influencers, this unique offer is causing a stir in the eCommerce and influencer marketing world.
This post will explore the ins and outs of Shopify collabs and how you can get in on the action.
Ready to take your eCommerce business to the next level? Partner with MyFBAPrep.
What is Shopify Collabs and how does it work?
Shopify has launched a free tool to help businesses collaborate with influencers. The aim of the game is to make eCommerce brands and creators more discoverable to each other and drive revenue for participating parties. Here’s a quick breakdown of how Shopify Collabs works:
- The merchants using Shopify install the Shopify Collabs tool.
- Creators sign up for a collabs account, which lets them view and search Shopify’s 1 million+ strong merchant directory.
- Merchants can find and manage influencer collaborations on the platform, including sharing custom affiliate links and discount codes and creating curated shops together.
- The influencer gets a cut when shoppers use their link to make purchases using their custom link or code.
- Creators can also make their links shoppable by using Linkpop, Shopify’s eCommerce tool that turns the link in a bio into an online store and provides a landing page to house important links to share with their audience.
- Shopify store owners enrolled in the Shopify Collabs program can monitor orders, stock levels, and customer orders via their Shopify admin panel. This makes it simple to track a campaign’s effectiveness.
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Why Shopify Collabs is a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs and creators?
Before tools like Shopify Collabs, brands were left to fend for themselves when it came to learning how to collaborate with influencers successfully. This included managing fees, terms, and campaign optimization with multiple creators simultaneously.
The other alternative was to shell out for agency help. However, this choice increased their marketing spending with no guarantee of results. This made it only viable for brands with large advertising budgets.
Now brands big and small have tools like Shopify Collabs to make informed decisions on who to work with to increase their odds of success.
Shopify Collabs could also be a lucrative opportunity for creators hoping to go all in, increase their takings, or strengthen their brand. Just 4% of influencers currently create content full-time.
These factors combined help to enhance the available talent in the creator pool and willing participants in the merchant group, increasing the odds of good matches.
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How influencer marketing can help your brand succeed?
If you’re wondering whether Shopify collab and creator marketing are just more fidget spinner-style fads destined for the trash, think again! When used correctly, they can drive strong results for your brands. Let’s explore some perks you can expect:
Reach more people
Influencer marketing allows you to explore new audiences and territories to find more highly engaged buyers. Also, shoppers have different places they enjoy spending time online. Mixing up the creators you work with can also find other profitable audience segments you would have missed when focusing on alternative marketing channels.
Access user-generated content (UGC)
There’s something about UGC that screams authenticity and gets people buying. Email campaigns with visual UGC report conversion rates 25% higher than those without and UGC boosts web conversions and campaign results by 29%. So, UGC is worth its weight in gold, and with influencer marketing, you get it in droves. From audience members participating in influencer giveaways to heartfelt video testimonials crafted by creators, influencer marketing can help you secure this type of conversion-boosting content.
Improve your marketing ROI
PPC ad costs are on the rise. Google racked in $61.2 billion from ad revenue in Q4 2021, which amounts to a staggering $15 billion rise compared to the previous year’s final quarter results.
With these price hikes, you must look for alternative ways to market your brand and protect your margins and ROI. That’s where influencer marketing comes in. Boasting an ROI 11x that of banner ads, influencer marketing is a cost-effective investment.
Plus, with more AI-backed tools and collaboration-boosting platforms entering the market, influencer marketing is poised to be more profitable than ever.
Uplevel brand awareness
When you’re just starting out or in a competitive niche, it can be challenging to get the word out about your brand. Working with an influencer with a growing following can be just the push your brand needs to be seen, pull your products into the limelight, and take your store global.
Elevate trust and credibility to supercharge sales
Some influencers have fiercely loyal followers who believe in and trust them, especially those with younger audience demographics. 62% of 18-29 year-olds surveyed said they trust influencers more than celebrities, and that figure jumps to 92% for micro-influencers. By working with creators, you can piggyback off their relationships with consumers. In turn, this will increase your perceived trustworthiness and credibility to skyrocket sales.
How to excel at influencer marketing with Shopify Collabs?
Competition for people’s attention online is growing stiffer. So to win at influencer marketing with the Shopify Collabs tool in hand, you’ll need some know-how, cash, and patience. Let’s dive into some steps to get the best results:
Learn how the Shopify Collabs platform works
Before you dive into working with influencers on the Shopify Collabs platform, it’s important to understand what’s in front of you. Take a tour of the Shopify Collabs tool, read its resources, and play around with the features until you have a solid understanding of the lay of the land.
Determine your goals and set a suitable budget
Is it more traffic you’re hoping for? Or perhaps it’s an uptick in qualified leads and sales you’re after. Whatever it is, it’s vital you jot down a clear objective for every campaign.
Next, create a realistic budget to match your plans. For example, if you want to focus on collaborations with micro-influencer, you can have a smaller cash pot for inventory and payment. On the other hand, if you intend to partner with celebs and well-established creators, you’ll need to account for higher reimbursements, legal fees, and admin.
Launch, assess, and adjust campaigns
Like most marketing channels, finding your sweet spot takes a few swings. There are a few things you can do to improve your campaign results. For example
- Enter the influencer marketing game with a winner’s mindset and unstoppable attitude. In other words, be willing to try, fail, and try again.
- Run split tests on top-performing campaigns. You can test areas like territory, target audience, topic, audience sizes, and campaign storyline.
- Monitor your campaign performance, combining your store analytics data with social listening and customer feedback to make appropriate adjustments.
Share, share, and share again
Collaborating with influencers to create awesome content is critical. However, how you distribute it will decide how much you get out of a campaign. Some ways you can distribute your influencer marketing content for maximized utilization include:
- Create a reposting schedule: Discuss posting times with influencers so your uploads don’t clash with them. Post the content to your social channels, pay attention to posting times, and use content formats native to them.
- Get your followers involved: Encourage your audience to share your content (e.g., turn your campaign into a competition in which they share your content)
- Use the content on your product pages: Place your influencer front and center on areas like collections, your homepage, and product photo reels.
- Use the images and videos in your ads: Whether you advertise using email marketing or PPC, find ways to inject influencer content into your campaign. Insert quotes from testimonials and reviews from the influencer(s) and customer for added credibility.
The secret to making Shopify Collabs a money-making machine
Influencer marketing is one of the hottest opportunities for eCommerce brands and creators. But to see success in your influencer campaigns, you’ll need to go in with a documented plan and the desire to make it a reality.
Use Shopify Collabs to streamline your influencer research and negotiations. Work with influencers whose content style and image match your brand and tell exciting stories that resonate with your audience. Before you know it, you’ll have a profitable influencer marketing strategy to aid your store’s expansion.
It’s time to say goodbye to sleepy fulfillment processes. Learn how MyFBAPrep can help you boost backend efficiency.
3 Simple Strategies For Show Stopping eCommerce Product Listings
2.14 billion people shopped online in 2021. That’s 27.6% of the global population who came across a product listing, liked what they saw, and hit “buy”.
Product listings are one of the few areas in your eCommerce funnel that all potential customers will see before spending and play a massive role in influencing what consumers purchase.
In this post, we’ll cover why investing in product listings is always time and money well spent. We’ll also explore what goes into a fantastic product listing and some tips to help you craft winning listings of your own.
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Why investing in product listings pays off
With 63% of shopping journeys beginning online, most consumers encounter product listings early in the customer journey. As a result, product listings carry a lot of weight in the buying process, making upgrading product listings enticing. Let’s examine some reasons why you can’t go wrong with making improvements to your product listings:
Show products in the best light
In a world where website visitors decide whether they’re staying or going within 0.05 seconds, first impressions count. A well-crafted listing allows your products to stand out in the sea of competing offers, especially on marketplaces like Amazon, which has 12 million products vying for shoppers’ attention. Put another way; your product listing quality is so critical it can be the difference between whether a shopper takes a chance on your brand or opts for a competitor.
Accelerate sales around the clock
Sometimes the product listing is the first encounter shoppers have with your items, so a rockstar product listing is essential to highlight the pros of buying the item to get more clicks and sales. Product listings act like your 24-7 sales team, pitching your wares, convincing shoppers, and closing deals.
Improve consumer confidence
Unlike shopping in-store, customers can’t experience your products physically. They rely on your images, videos, and descriptions to aid their purchase decisions to make educated guesses on what using your product will be like. But no one likes to be wrong when buying goods, and taking a chance on a brand can be scary (especially for high-priced items) so there can be friction in the online buying journey.
A great product listing addresses this problem by incorporating different elements to put shoppers’ minds at ease by giving shoppers a relevant, well-optimized spot to land on. You can also reduce ad bounce rate, improve time on page, and lower buyer’s remorse. In turn, you can look forward to increased sales velocity, reduced customer returns, and improved store ROI.
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8 Building blocks of a high-quality product listing
Now that we know the value of a killer product listing, the next question is what goes into one? To get up to speed, let’s breakdown the makeup of a top-performing product listing:
1) High-quality images and videos
First up on the list are high-quality images and videos. With shoppers’ lives busier than ever, crisp images and videos are essential to grab their attention and help them get the information quickly. When done correctly, your efforts are bound to pay off. Not only can videos increase conversion rates by up to 80%, but shoppers that watch a video are also 144% more likely to add an item to their cart than consumers that don’t. Also, 50% of shoppers say photos helped them make online buying decisions.
2) Benefit-driven product descriptions
A great product listing answers the question on every shopper’s mind, “what’s in it for me?”. They should highlight your products’ USP and what gives your items a competitive edge to help shoppers understand why your product is the best choice. For example, shoe brand TOMS lets its site visitors know they make their items from sustainable materials, and a portion of the profits goes to charity.
3) User-generated content (UGC)
Candid reviews, honest testimonials, and creative snaps from customers show off the results your products have given your customers. They also provide prospects with ideas on how to use your goods, breed trust, and humanize your brand. Encourage and incentivize your customers to share their experience with your brand and products for easy access to UGC at scale.
SEO is the backbone of every listing that succeeds long-term. Use relevant keywords and optimized placements to attract customers to your products organically. This strategy lowers your required ad spend over time and boosts your ROI. SEO works whether you have listings on a marketplace like Amazon or your website.
5) Great products
Never underestimate the power of a phenomenal product on a listing’s selling potential. Winning products add a spark to listings like no ad or social media post can. To increase your odds of closing sales, your products should:
- Be made using quality materials
- Have a differentiating characteristic to separate it from competing items
- Provide high perceived value
6) A compelling offer
In eCommerce, you’re only as good as your last offer. You should constantly be trialing new ways to give shoppers value for their money and enjoyment in the buying process. So, whether you ask shoppers what they want to see in your store, rejig past successful offers, or test different bundles, make your shopping experience exciting by keeping shoppers guessing about what’s next.
7) Trust boosting assets
A high-quality listing screams “you can count on us.” Using a mix of money-back guarantees, details on freebies, logos for reputable payment options (PayPal, Visa, Stripe), and information on any support services the customer will receive from your business will help to instill trust.
8) Recommendations for similar items
Make your listings more valuable to busy shoppers and boost average order value by adding suggestions for similar or complementary items. You can also highlight new and upcoming offers to gain more interest. Test different placements on the listing to find your optimal spot.
How to craft a show-stopping product listing
If you’re stuck on how to optimize your product listings for better results, don’t fret. Use the following tips to get started, put your work out into the market, reiterate, and before long; you’ll have a listing you can be proud of:
Conduct market research to find winning product listing elements
A great product listing starts with research. Investigate what’s on offer in your space and brainstorm creative spins on them to make your mark. Also, look for what images, messaging, colors, navigation, and layouts resonate with your target online audience. Don’t be afraid to search outside your niche at brands your target shopper frequents for ideas you can spin. This approach will help you build a strong foundation for a high-converting listing.
Implement conversion rate optimization techniques
Split test different page elements from the add-to-cart button color to the text placement to find the best fit for your brand. Also, use heatmaps to understand how shoppers navigate in your store and adjust based on your finding to upgrade listing conversions. You’ll improve user experience and improve conversions by finding optimal combinations. Some tools you can use are:
- SEO: Moz and OptinMonster
- Heatmaps: Hotjar and CrazyEgg
- CRO: AB Tasty and Google Optimize 360
- Keyword Research (marketplaces): Helium 10 and Jungle Scout
Upgrade your product description copy and imagery:
Want to have shoppers rushing to buy your items? Then it’s time to revamp your listing copy and visuals. Here are some areas to focus on:
- Craft a compelling title: Explain your product and how it works succinctly. Don’t forget to include 1-2 keywords towards the beginning of the title. For example, if you sell a utensil sharpener set, your listing title could look something like this:
3PCS Utensil Sharpener Set, Knife Sharpener, Perfect for Kitchen, Cutlery, and Tools.
- Use bullet points and short sentences: Keep the text snappy and focus on what the product does for the customers.
- Apply persuasive language techniques: Blend in terms the target customer uses or understands as well as urgency and scarcity-focused words to encourage shoppers to take action sooner.
Top tip: you can use plugins to assist with persuasive triggers like countdown timers and popups indicating how many units are left and what shoppers bought recently.
- Amp up your visual quality: Lifestyle images, video reels of the product in action, and close-ups are just some of the ways fantastic visuals bring the product to life. Avoid the stock content suppliers provide, making your brand appear amateur.
- Include essential details: Ensure shoppers don’t have to search for information by clarifying vital information on your listing. For example, you can:
- Highlight shipping terms
- Create an FAQ tab
- Clarify any crucial terms and conditions
The secret to listings that sell
With growing competition online, up-leveling your product listing quality has never been more critical. Product listings offer an effective way to establish reliability, trust, and authority with your target audience. As the landing page, all shoppers encounter before buying, product listings are essential to the effectiveness of every marketing strategy you launch. So, put your best foot forward. Create scrolling-stopping images and videos, implement SEO best practices, and answer shoppers burning questions. Soon you’ll have product listings that rank well, attracts buyers in droves, and rakes in cash.
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How to Generate And Use Social Proof in Your eCommerce Marketing
Need a way for your eCommerce brand to stand out? Turn your attention to acquiring and sharing social proof. From glowing product reviews to heartfelt customer shoutouts, social proof is one of the most effective ways to get your target customer’s attention, build trust and close more sales.
82% of consumers have purchased, researched, or thought about buying after seeing friends, family, or influencers post about something. To help you take advantage of this underutilized hack, in this post, we’ll dive into what social proof is and what it’s not. We’ll also highlight why getting social proof should be a priority when scaling and share some ways to secure attention-grabbing social proof.
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What is social proof exactly?
Social proof is a term born from the idea social influence impacts the way people behave, swaying their beliefs and breeding conformity. In action, this could look like getting a recommendation from a friend for a coffee brand you’ve never heard of and taking a chance on them by purchasing.
Social proof comes in many shapes and forms, which brands mix and match. Some formats useful for eCommerce marketing include:
- Word of mouth referral
- Video and text testimonials
- Professional recommendations, e.g., A doctor’s sign off
Each type of social proof will carry different authority levels depending on whether a third party generated it and who your target is. For instance, recommendations from an employee on your website will be met with less enthusiasm than a review from a fellow shopper on a regulated review site. Telling the world about your product’s benefits isn’t social proof and falls more into the broader marketing category.
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3 Reasons why social proof is a must-have for eCommerce brands
Perhaps your products have viral status, and more people are hearing about your brand each day or you may have mature sales and marketing strategies that have sales pouring in. Either way, it can be challenging to see the value of social proof as anything more than an acknowledgment of your hard work. But social proof can help your brand in many ways. Let’s run through a few:
1) Gain new shopper’s trust
Want to know one of the top things social proof generates for your brand?
Knowing a product has been tested and approved by peers reduces the perceived risk factor of buying, making shoppers more open to learning about your brand and completing the checkout process pause-free.
Recommendations and reviews can also reduce buyers’ remorse when shared as part of your post-sale marketing. These are just some of the reasons reviews play a critical role in a product’s success on a marketplace and why platforms like Amazon have had early reviewer programs and now the Vine program.
2) Improve conversions
Reviews don’t just make your brand look good; they make its bank balance, Average Order Value, and Customer Lifetime Value healthier. For example, Social proof can increase conversions by as much as 270%, and higher-priced products can benefit from a jump of up to 380%. Also, shoppers are likely to spend 31% more when a brand has fantastic reviews.
3) Boost brand authority
Social proof from the right people and in the correct quantity can take a brand from an unknown newbie to a rising star. And, if you’re an established player in the eCommerce world, getting shoppers’ approval tells other consumers why you’ve stood the test of time. In other words, the more social proof your brand acquires, its brand authority becomes stronger.
How to generate social proof on autopilot
No matter what audience size you have, you can garner social proof to drive more leads and sales. You’ll need a well-thought-out game plan to acquire different types of social proof. To get started, here are some ways you can gather reviews, shoutouts, recommendations, and more:
Run giveaways and contests
Giveaways aren’t just great ways to build your email list; they’re also a great way to garner social proof. For example, say you have a teeth whitening line, you could create a competition for your customers, offering 6 month’s worth of products for the best:
- Before and after pics
- Selfies with and displays of your products
- Answers on why they love a particular item
Partner with influencers
Social proof produces the best result when you take a blended approach. So break away from the norm and trial different content types to create social proof with influencer marketing:
- Q&A sessions
- Diary style/day-in-the-life content
- Inspirational images and short video clips (e.g., for social media reels)
- Social media takeovers
- Meetups for your most loyal followers to meet their favorite content creators
- Share seals of approval from regulated bodies and industry experts (e.g., FDA, doctors)
Incentivize customer content creation from customers
Despite 9 out of 10 consumers reading reviews before making a purchase, on average, just 10% leave reviews. So sometimes, even your loyal customers need a little nudge to get talking. Give shoppers a reason to leave honest reviews by giving perks that they’ll be interested in. For example, you could offer a discount code, unlock a special deal on their next purchase or offer loyalty points.
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5 simple ways to drive conversions with social proof
Now that you know how to create different forms of social proof, the next step is to position them to supercharge conversions. Here are some ways you can fill your sales funnels and pockets with social proof:
1) Embed social proof into your web design
A fantastic way to get social proof in front of your potential customers is to mix it into your web design. Examine other brands’ social proof strategies for inspiration on how to present it in a way that’s native to the sales platform. For example, if you have a website, you could:
- Have a page dedicated to reviews and testimonials.
- Add a widget to product description pages to list reviews for the associated product.
- Place reviews on your landing page and in email designs.
2) Blend social proof into your social media strategy
Give your reviews, recommendations, and testimonials the shine they deserve by displaying them on your social channels. Test different formats like video, star ratings, and text to find which style resonates the best. Don’t forget to add a call to action for shoppers to buy the item and a link to the product in your bio to increase conversions.
Look through comments sections for shoutouts and impromptu testimonials your fans may leave on product posts and request permission from them too. Also, take note of how shoppers display their social proof for more ideas to trial.
3) Use case studies for wholesale account outreach
Whether it’s a sell-out launch, a 3-month long wait list, or increased profits, sharing case studies from your wholesale and corporate accounts can help you attract more customers. Zoom in on crucial stats representing the positive changes your brand has brought other businesses and include positive quotes from customers to provide additional context and validity. You can also include snapshots from case studies in your outreach and adverts to up your meeting booking rate and account sign-ups.
4) Highlight key numbers
There are some instances where tooting your own horn is entirely acceptable, and sharing your store’s most impressive milestones is one of them. So if you’ve secured 0 to $1 million in 60 days, 100,000 customers, 5 years in business, or something similar, it’s time to let the world know. This tactic will uplevel your brand value in consumers’ eyes, inspiring them to start their customer journey. Some other achievements you can share include:
- Amount of positive reviews
- Units sold
- Units remaining
5) Get social media verified
Something about that little blue ticket on a social media profile makes people stop and pay attention. Yet verification is an overlooked way to showcase brand notoriety. So, research which social platforms your ideal shoppers spend the most time on and take action to get your brand verified on them. If you don’t have the time to dedicate to this task, hire a social media marketing agency to help you achieve the respected verified status.
Be the brand shoppers rave about
Gone are the days when shoppers formed their buying habits solely on word of mouth; social proof has gone digital. From online reviews to influencer mentions and expert recommendations, consumers are becoming more comfortable with the online vetting of products and brands.
With the right approach for gathering and distributing social proof, you can get more eyes on your stores, improve your product’s perceived value, and upgrade your brand’s reputation.
So start today. Collect and share notes, pictures, and videos from happy customers and share them with the world. Soon your products will be selling themselves with a trail of satisfied customers in tow.
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What To Do About The Upcoming FBA Inventory Limitations (And Price Increases)
Just when we thought selling on Amazon couldn’t get more expensive, it has.
Amazon delivered the blow that service fees will be increasing once again. This price hike now joins the inventory limits and rising ad costs sellers must contend with in the most critical selling season and beyond.
To give you an idea, third-party sellers in the US and Canada will have an extra $0.35 tacked on to their bill from the 15th of October 2022. This figure may not seem like much at a glance but can add up fast when selling large volumes and impact your store’s ROI.
So how can you build a profitable Amazon business while navigating the rising costs, reduced space in Amazon’s warehouses, and shaky global supply chain? In this post, we’ll show you how.
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What’s happening to inventory limits and selling fees?
These days, everywhere you turn, there’s talk of change, and the same goes for selling on Amazon. Knowing what lies ahead for your business will be critical in keeping its growth on course. So let’s break down the two of the latest and most significant shifts on Amazon:
Selling fee rises
Not only are referral fee decreases missing from this year’s Amazon shakeup, but Amazon has also implemented price increases across the board for sellers. Stores on Amazon now have higher costs for services such as FBA, storage (off-peak and peak), labeling, FBA Prep, long-term storage, and removal and disposal solutions.
Some of the most notable changes include:
- Nearly 10.5% price increase for standard and oversized products during the off-peak season (January – September). Prices will remain as is for peak season.
- Small standard-size products have the most significant price hike at an average of 7.5%.
- Small oversize items will pay 2.8% more.
- Medium-sized products now have a 12.1% additional charge.
- Large oversize items have a 7.8% uptick in price.
- Standard-size goods have experienced a 4.8% uptick in selling fees.
Storage space restrictions
Inventory limits have yoyoed in the last couple of years, with Amazon imposing a much-loathed 200-unit blanket restriction at the height of the pandemic. At present, you’ll receive a warehouse space allowed in cubic meters.
Your inventory limit allocation is Inventory Performance Index (IPI) score-influenced and also depends on the account type you have. Individual seller accounts have a 10 cubic meter cap, and professional sellers have a minimum 25 cubic meter allocation for standard-size, oversize products, clothing, and footwear items. No inventory limits exist for extra-large products, no matter the inventory age or your IPI.
You need an excellent IPI (currently above 400), or you could face restrictions and cuts to your space allowance. However, as mentioned above, there are no inventory limits for extra large products no matter the inventory age or your IPI.
In February 2022, Amazon also changed restock limits from the ASIN level to the storage level. This change means you can now share your restock allowance across ASINs. Your restock limit determines how many replenishment items you can send into Amazon FBA based on your past and predicted sales.
Inventory limits are IPI score-influenced, measured by cubic meters and not by unit. Your warehouse space allowance also depends on your account type (e.g., individual seller accounts have a 10 cubic meter cap, and professional sellers have a minimum 25 cubic meter allocation).
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What Amazon’s selling fee hikes and storage restrictions mean for sellers
With the Amazon selling cost hikes and storage adjustments in full swing, it’s normal to feel apprehensive about how they will impact your business. To give you the knowledge needed to come back swinging, let’s explore how the changes will alter your Amazon selling journey:
Product selection will take center stage
While it’s been a long time since sellers could launch average products into the market and make a killing, product selection will now play an even more prominent role.
You’ll need to assess your products based on their ability to deliver high profits and ROI with low competition, reasonable cost per click in ads, and customer satisfaction.
Robust logistics and restocking processes will be your secret weapon
Since you’ll have fewer products in Amazon’s warehouse, the odds of going out of stock will rise. You’ll need a solid system to monitor inventory levels and quickly send replenishments to Amazon’s warehouses.
Also, with the price increases for Amazon’s already costly prep services, you’ll need to rethink high volumes and how you prepare goods for sale.
Killer negotiation skills will be critical to keeping your budget in line
When you combine the Amazon cost increase with the looming recession and global supply chain chaos, every penny will count in the days ahead. Finding suppliers, manufacturers, vendors, and carriers that offer great deals and excellent service will help you keep costs low.
Boosting your revenue and liquidity will be vital to maintain options
Amazon is notorious for changing its requirements, rules, and privileges it gives to sellers. And if Amazon’s track record is anything to go by, these price and storage adjustments are just the beginning.
Therefore you will need to make your business as agile as possible. A great way to do this is by building more liquidity in your store’s finances to increase your speed in responding to Amazon’s changes.
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How to overcome Amazon’s changing landscape
Now we’ve set the record straight on the latest changes sweeping the Amazon world; the next question is “how do we tackle these shifts to build a thriving store?”. You’ll need to make a series of strategic moves in tandem. Let’s break them down.
Move your goods into Amazon, stat.
If you take one thing away from this blog post, it should be this; get your inventory into Amazon’s warehouse NOW. This hack will allow you to take advantage of your storage capacity before the changes come into effect. At MyFBAPrep, we’ve had some merchants send all the inventory they were storing with us into FBA to reserve that space.
Revaluate your product portfolio
To maintain healthy profits in the changing Amazon world, it’s essential to upgrade your product portfolio. Eliminate items with lackluster performance. For best results, decide which products you can keep in your portfolio based on factors like:
- Amazon FBA cost
- Product demand
- Item size and weight
From here, implement offers to increase average order value and focus your product sourcing high-margin products. Also, be strategic about where you sell particular products to reduce costs. For example, you could fulfill heavy items from retail locations via customer pickup or ship goods in-house.
Top tip: Shift popular yet low-margin products to be Fulfilled by Merchant or sell on your own website with external fulfillment.
Go multichannel and unify your shipping
If Amazon FBA is proving too expensive, don’t despair as you have options. Many selling sales channels come with their own fulfillment channels. Some viable alternatives to Amazon include:
However, an even better way to approach fulfillment is to pool stock into a fulfillment house and have them prep and ship goods across channels, according to each one’s requirements. This approach will help you circumvent Amazon’s inventory limits and high selling fees.
Get help from an Amazon fulfillment service
One of the simplest and fastest ways to overcome the rising Amazon selling fees is to take control of your shipping and partner with an experienced Amazon prep and pack service.
Your fulfillment provider should help you:
- Organize and send goods to Amazon quickly
- Distribute stock in key locations goods close to demand
- Fulfill orders affordably
- Store replenishment stock
To put this into perspective, MyFBAPrep has an extensive warehouse network with 50+ locations globally, and strategic partnerships with premium freight services.
Top tip: Have FBM and FBA stock for your most popular listings to avoid disruption if your Amazon stock runs out.
Maintain a healthy IPI score
To maintain your selling privileges and the perks that come with them, like warehouse space and restock limits, it’s vital to keep your IPI score in tip-top condition. Some ways you can improve your figure include to:
- Pull excess stock from the Amazon warehouse
- Address stranded inventory issues
- Keep your popular ASINs in stock
- Run polls on social media on which products you should launch next
- Get rid of excess inventory in the Amazon warehouse
- Address customer questions and complaints fast
- Implement product upgrades based on reviews to encourage more sales and up your FBA-sell-through rate
- Negotiate product prices so you can pass the saving on to customers
Make income generation a priority
“Money makes the world go around”, especially on Amazon. So look for ways to up cash flow, reduce expenses, and increase your access to liquid capital. There are many ways to make your store more financially stable, here are just a few:
- Run promotions and offers to increase sales velocity
- Save a portion of your profits into a rainy fund
- Liquidate slow-moving and deadstock
- Pay down business debts
- Negotiate your contracts,
- Put it into your agreements to renegotiate fees quarterly or after you hit a specific order volume
- Use a digital wallet to save money on currency conversions
- Get eCommerce funding such as a credit limit or cash advance for peak periods
Rise above challenges to scale your Amazon store
As we face rising Amazon selling costs and an uncertain global market, diligence will be paramount to building a profitable eCommerce business.
The bottom line is to take advantage of the privileges, be it more storage space or lower fees, for buying your store some more time.
Look for ways to increase your spending efficiency for backend tasks like stock buying and fulfillment. Additionally, use slow burner marketing tactics and assess products from a customer value perspective and ROI viewpoint.
Keep your foot on the selling gas pedal and as you start to see results from your optimizations, save, save, save!
Before you know it, you would have built an eCommerce business that succeeds regardless of the challenges that come its way.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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“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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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What is 3DS (3D Secure) And How to Use It
Unless you’re new to eCommerce, you’ll be aware of the business dangers of online fraud, and they aren’t going away anytime soon. LexisNexis’ 2021 study reported both the cost and volume of fraud are increasing significantly year-on-year, not the type of growth we want to see.
Security systems like 3DS are vital to combating fraud. This checkout process is a requirement for eCommerce stores selling in Europe (including the U.K.). Yet, the path to 3DS implementation hasn’t always been smooth-sailing.
Here, we take a look at the importance of 3DS and how merchants can use it. We will also be sharing actionable steps to reduce the risk of failed transactions or abandoned carts.
What is 3DS (3D Secure)?
3D Secure is an online fraud protection protocol. From your customer’s point of view, this means an extra step to verify their identity.
You’ve almost certainly experienced 3DS as a customer. Before completing your purchase, you have to enter another password, or agree to the transaction on a mobile app. This process helps prove it was you making this purchase, not a fraudster.
But what if you’re on the other end of the transaction? From a merchant’s point of view, the most important step is to enable 3DS. It’s mandatory for anyone selling into the European Economic Area (EEA), as well as other countries like India.
Putting legalities aside, setting up 3DS is a sensible step to take wherever you’re selling. As WorldPay clearly states, not enabling 3DS will result in declined transactions, losing you valuable business.
3DS stands for Three-Domain Secure. This refers to the data shared between the three domains involved at checkout: the customer’s bank sending money, the merchant’s bank receiving money, and the infrastructure in between (the internet, website, server, and so on).
You may see references online to ‘3DS2’. The ‘2’ merely signifies the newest version of 3DS. For example, as 3dsecure2.com explains, this newest version allows for ‘dynamic authentication methods’ like biometrics (such as FaceID on your iPhone), providing even tighter protection against fraud. Other advantages of 3DS2 include improved design and two different authentication flows.
How 3DS protects your eCommerce store and customers
There are a lot of ways that implementing 3DS can protect you, the eCommerce store owner, and your customers.
Protecting eCommerce stores and customers from fraudulent activity
Picture this: a fraudster enters the details of a stolen bank card at checkout. Instead of immediately being able to purchase the item, they’re challenged to prove their identity. They’re unable to provide the extra password or dynamic authentication so the purchase is declined.
In the above scenario, everyone benefits (except, of course, the fraudster). The eCommerce business doesn’t lose revenue to fraudulent activity. Consumers benefit because their bank details aren’t illegally used. Banking partners of all involved spend less time and resources investigating and compensating fraud.
Minimizing chargebacks for eCommerce stores
A further financial benefit to eCommerce stores is the avoidance of ‘chargebacks’. Chargebacks happen when a cardholder disputes an unrecognized payment on their bank statement. This ‘dispute’ costs banks non-refundable fees, which are passed on to the merchant. Plus, the merchant may also have to return any money taken in the transaction.
3DS (specifically 3DS2) protects your eCommerce store against chargebacks.
As Judopay explains, 3DS2 reduces chargebacks by shifting liability. Instead of the merchant paying chargeback costs, liability is shifted to the customer’s bank because 3DS2 enabled them to check the customer’s identity. In other words, it’s not the merchant’s responsibility if a fraudulent transaction was checked by 3DS2.
Improving customer loyalty
Aside from the technicalities of declined authorizations and chargebacks, 3DS has huge potential benefits for customer loyalty. Shopping from a website that uses fraud prevention like 3DS is a sure sign that the store takes financial security seriously — a sure-fire way to increase potential customer trust.
Trust is a big game in eCommerce. The World Economic Forum points out that it’s often harder for suppliers to gain consumers’ trust online compared to offline. This challenge increases when a merchant is in a different country from the customer.
In a survey by the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), 22% of consumers said they don’t shop online. Almost half of those non-online shoppers said it was because of a lack of trust. When asked what online behavior changes people were making, 12% responded ‘making fewer online transactions’, meaning lack of trust may also be preventing repeat customs as well as new business.
CIGI’s survey was run in early 2019 so we suspect the data would have changed since, especially given the consumer impacts of lockdowns. But it remains a fact that making your online store feel, and be, as safe as possible for all involved is a win-win situation.
How to use 3DS for your eCommerce store
You’re now clear on the benefits of 3DS. Whether it’s building customer trust or minimizing fraud, adding 3DS to your eCommerce store can offer great advantages.
So, how do you implement it?
Luckily, setting up 3DS is a relatively straightforward process.
The first step is to check whether your payment gateway supports 3DS. Chances are it will, especially if you’re using one of the main players. Worldpay, Braintree, N26, PayPal, and Stripe are all examples of some of the payment gateways offering 3DS.
If your payment gateway doesn’t support 3DS or makes it difficult to implement the latest standards, it’s time to consider moving. Use this blocker as a chance to review your wider approach. Start by taking a look at our blog How to optimize your checkout process.
So now you’ve got a 3DS payment gateway. What next? We’ll use Stripe as an example.
Setting up 3DS with Stripe
Enable Stripe to automatically display 3DS in countries or areas with mandates or regulations such as Europe’s Strong Customer Authentication). While 3DS is optional in other countries, you can still use it as a way to reduce fraud.
Stripe lets you manually set parameters in the API so customers are prompted to complete 3DS authentication.
In fact, Stripe offers three default rules for dynamically requesting 3DS during the checkout process. These default rules make it easy to implement 3DS on your site.
When implementing 3DS, make sure the secure flow is displayed to customers throughout the transaction. If you are using Stripe, they will automatically do this.
Stripe will also automatically redirect customers to their bank’s website to complete authentication. Once the authentication is complete, customers will be sent back to your site. You can choose where customers land when being redirected back to your site so be sure to set this as your order confirmation page.
While you can’t choose what 3DS looks like, you can decide how and where it will be shown on your site. Most merchants opt for a modal dialog above the payment page.
As with most payment gateways, Stripe uses 3DS2 as the highest standard in preventing fraud. However, if the customer’s bank can’t support that protocol, it will ‘fall back’ to the original 3DS with its more static, yet still protective, features.
Payment gateways are vying for business like the rest of us, so their websites and documentation are helpful. Check out the nitty-gritty details of Stripe’s 3DS process here.
The impact of 3DS in Europe
As we’ve touched on above, 3DS is mandatory in Europe. This requirement of 3DS in Europe came into effect following the phased implementation of the revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2).
The European Commission proposed PSD2 back in July 2013. However, the final compliance deadline wasn’t until December 31 2020 for Europe. The U.K. had an extension until September 2021 due to Brexit.
All this means that 3DS is relatively new to Europe. With the newness of 3DS in Europe come many tales of teething issues. When 3DS first came into effect, we saw stories of merchants experiencing increased rejection rates after implementing 3DS.
The main reasons why 3DS transactions fail
To better understand the impact of 3DS and the issues merchants may face, we need to remember that there are three main reasons why 3DS transactions fail. These are:
- Fraud – as discussed, the ‘payer’ is unable to verify their identity due to not being the legitimate card holder
- Abandonment – customers find the 3DS process too taxing, and abandon checkout
- Transaction failure – technical issues mean that checkout doesn’t complete
This third reason is especially frustrating for all involved, as no party (merchant, customer, or bank) gains anything from the situation. By constantly reviewing your site performance and keeping an eye open for potential issues, you can minimize the risk of 3DS payments failing due to transaction failure.
In addition, work on your cart abandonment rate to identify ways to speed up the checkout process and reduce abandonment rates. We will cover how to avoid this below.
The reasons behind technical issues are wide-ranging. The Mastercard Payment Gateway support site lists some of the potential issues that are within the merchant’s control – branding of iframes, month formatting, and descriptions, to name a few. As you can see, there are many things you can be doing to reduce 3DS technical issues.
With that said, transaction failures are sometimes caused by the customer’s bank which eCommerce stores have very little sway over. In these cases, you simply have to be patient and understanding. And hope that your customer will return once the issue has been resolved at the bank’s end.
As Vlad Macovei wrote on The PayPers in October 2020, “it is known that issuers are more ready in some countries than in others” and this readiness is evident in 3DS performance. Fraud prevention company Ravelin analyzed millions of payments and found a huge variation in how the top twenty global banks performed. According to Ravelin, acceptance rates ranged from 68-92% between the top 20 global banks. As Ravelin’s research was conducted in 2021, we would like to hope that many of these issues have been since been resolved as banks work on their 3DS compatibility.
Macovei’s warning was further proven when different countries experienced hugely different failure rates after implementing PSD2. According to dynamic payments company Forter, the U.K. (which was known to be more prepared) experienced a 9% failure rate. While 9% is still a significant chunk of potentially missed revenue, it pales in comparison to France’s 71%.
The good news is that, according to Forter, “over 80% of the transactions that fail are the result of abandonment and issuer bank failure. This means that many of these failures could have been prevented.”
How to mitigate the risks of 3DS
eCommerce sellers can’t do much about customers’ banks. As 3DS has now been mandatory since December 2020 in Europe, many banks have made vast improvements to their 3DS performance. We suspect that if Ravelin ran their study today, they would find much-improved acceptance rates.
Asides from technical issues on the bank’s side, there is plenty in your control regarding 3DS failure due to cart abandonment.
Firstly, educate your customers. Tell them about 3DS before they reach checkout. It’s not exactly the most riveting of information, so publish little signposts everywhere that people might notice: in product page footers, at the basket stage. You could even share more in-depth information about 3DS on your blog or social media pages so potential customers can read more if they wish. Educate them about the importance of fraud prevention, and they might just thank you for it.
Increasing education around 3DS and how it combats fraudulent activity could also work wonders for increasing your trust score.
Prioritize the user journey
Secondly, ensure the user journey from browsing to payment completion is smooth regardless of the device used. Test your website flows and ensure your payment gateway provider is as well integrated as possible across different mobile and desktop devices.
Be sure to continually test performance too. If you’re seeing a high volume of cart abandonments, it just may be a sign that something is broken. So, routinely test the 3DS is performing as expected and fix any issues as soon as they arise.
Switching to 3DS2, rather than 3DS, can also improve the user journey. 3DS2 introduces Frictionless Flow which allows issuers (banks) to automatically approve transactions deemed to be low-risk. This automatic approval reduces the number of steps required to complete the payment.
Prepare to fail
Thirdly, prepare to fail.
While telling you to get ready to fail isn’t the most inspiring advice we’ve shared, it may be the most useful.
What do you want your customer to do if their 3DS transaction fails? Contact you? Try again?
By preparing to fail, you’re putting assurances in place to help customers seamlessly move forward from a payment failure. You are providing solutions long before problems arise.
You could add a section to your payment FAQs about the next steps customers should take in the event of 3DS failure. The Trainline has a great example of this on their site from 2018 when 3DS failure was much more common.
Trust the process
Finally, take comfort in the fact that the latest version of 3DS was designed to be an improved protocol, even if it had a somewhat rocky start in some areas. All tools, services, and products experience problems in their early days. You, more than anyone else, can likely relate to the need to reiterate designs and improve product quality. It’s all about testing and improving.
As 3DS becomes more and more commonplace, we suspect that the 3DS implementation will become easier, connections with payment gateways will become more seamless, and technical issues will be minimized.
Removing common pain points such as static passwords can simplify the user experience too. As we know, simplifying the user experience can help improve cart abandonment rates.
Your next steps for 3DS eCommerce
With all these variables and actions to take, we’d understand if 3DS was beginning to sound like a headache – but we encourage you to think of it as an opportunity to improve eCommerce security for your customers.
Implementing 3DS will make your presence safer, more welcoming, and, ultimately, more profitable. After all, if customers don’t believe your checkout process is secure they are more likely to drop off without completing their purchase.
Ultimately it is up to you as a merchant whether you decide to implement 3DS. But in a world where eCommerce is only getting more competitive, it makes sense to grasp the advantages — especially when they overlap with preventing fraud and improving consumer trust.
The Ins And Out of Headless Commerce: What it Means For Growing Brands
As the market continues to change rapidly, headless commerce is becoming a must for brands who want to remain competitive, attractive to customers, and scale their revenue. But the term “headless commerce” isn’t well known outside the programming and coding spaces, yet it plays a huge role in the eCommerce world’s shakeup today.
In this post, we’ll clarify headless commerce and how it operates. We’ll also cover some benefits you can look forward to when you go headless and some pointers for success on your journey.
What is headless commerce?
While the name conjures up images from scary movies, rest assured, headless commerce is a bonafide tech term.
Headless commerce consists of an eCommerce solution where the front end, dubbed the “head” is separate from the backend. For instance, under a headless commerce setup, the customer-facing shopping interface is split up from the background tools and operating systems.
You can distinguish headless commerce from traditional commerce by looking at the characteristics. Traditional commerce adopts a rigid structure where the front and backend combine with coding and programming. It requires input from an IT team to make the slightest adjustment to your website interface or user experience.
A headless commerce store needs an effective fulfillment setup to match. Upgrade yours today.
How does headless commerce work?
A great example of headless commerce in action are solutions like Shopify and BigCommerce, which have set the stage for headless commerce for growing brands.
How headless commerce works is you upload and edit a theme or template with photos, text, layouts, and other customization features on the front end. The distinctive trait is that you won’t have to touch backend features like dashboards, order management, shipping tools, stock counting functions, and SEO management tools.
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7 ways headless commerce up-levels your brand
Perhaps your store runs on a custom-built program requiring developer input for updates, or you sell on an online marketplace and want to branch out to your own site. Either way, headless could be your next best action. Let’s examine some ways going headless can help your business reach new heights:
- Reduced admin and maintenance costs: No more paying out for programming and developer hours each time you want to tweak your eCommerce site. All you need to do is make an API call or edit in-line on your website’s interface when armed with a headless commerce infrastructure.
- Design flexibility and freedom: No coding background? No problem! Headless commerce is built with non-coders and business agility in mind. For example, you can customize your website to fit your goals and brand, from its content to the design.
- Uplevel customer experience: Shoppers’ wants and needs, along with market trends, are continually changing. It’s vital your store does the same quickly to get the lion’s share of sales. With headless commerce, you can take more risks and experiment, knowing you can return to previous settings without much hassle.
- Responsiveness that fuels your competitive advantage: With a headless commerce setup, you’ll have the necessary tools to outpace your competition. For example, you’ll speed up the time it takes to launch and test front-end elements, customer experiences, and interfaces.
- Take the pressure off your team: Having a laundry list of optimization tasks for your programmers and developers to tackle on top of their usual duties is no way to build morale. And, if it happens too many times can leave your team stressed and overworked, dragging productivity and business performance. Headless commerce releases your team to focus on core tasks to scale your business.
- Go omnichannel stress-free: Headless commerce system allows you to get more out of your existing store since you can disburse your content assets across different channels. This characteristic will increase how many markets you can tackle without multiplying your workload.
- Integrate with tools more seamlessly: Whether you need a countdown timer on your site or want to test a new design element, going headless will allow you to implement more tools without disrupting your existing store. As a result, you can optimize your site faster, increasing your competitive edge.
How to go headless for big eCommerce wins
As you go along on your eCommerce journey, it’s important to find ways to increase your odds of success and lighten your team’s administrative burden. That’s where going headless can be beneficial. It can help create more room to focus on growth-related tasks. But you’ll need a well-rounded plan to be triumphant in headless commerce. Let’s dive into the steps you should take to secure impressive results:
Decide whether going headless fits your business goals
To ensure investment in going headless is the best route for your brand, it’s vital to assess your business goals and needs. To put this into perspective, here are 3 eCommerce business scenarios to consider:
- Fast scaling eCommerce business: If you have a site with customer-facing content that changes constantly, it could be a good fit. Alternatively, you could adopt a hybrid approach to accommodate any complex customizations you can’t achieve with plugins, themes, or software.
- Steady growth B2B wholesale store: Say your store only requires a simple or static site that doesn’t require many updates or a sophisticated interface, switching from a traditional to a headless store may be futile.
- New eCommerce store ready to launch: If your store is yet to create a website and you’ve been selling in retail stores primarily. It may be wise to test the eCommerce waters with a headless store. This will allow you to pivot and keep costs low as you grow.
Select your eCommerce platform wisely
eCommerce platforms come in different shapes and sizes. Therefore, it’s essential to research each solution’s features and benefits before setting up shop. As a guide, some traits to look for in your chosen online selling platform include being able to:
- Serve a headless commerce system
- Easy to understand processes
- Integrate with your fulfillment house’s tools
- Offer on-hand support
Get the right team together
Your team’s skillset and willingness to adopt headless commerce will significantly impact the results you achieve going headless. It’s vital you sell the benefits of going headless to your core and executive team and utilize their skills in your new headless commerce store to breed confidence and a sense of mission. To conduct the switch effectively, observe each team member’s skill set and update their roles according, e.g., For example:
- A UX designer can take care of user experience building and testing
- A web designer can create banners and images
- A marketer can handle content creation and copywriting
- A programmer can create any advanced customizations you need
Understand the time and financial investments involved
While up-leveling business processes and systems are part and parcel of scaling an eCommerce business, you’ll want to avoid being blindsided by a deluge of work. So, take note of how much commitment the project will require to come to fruition, such as:
- How easy or difficult it will be to migrate
- The teams you need to involve
- Tasks to outsource
Once you have this information, outline the steps you’ll need to take to move to headless commerce successfully and how much each will cost. Then create a timeline adding in buffers for unexpected charges and events.
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Wrapping up – Get ahead without your head
In recent years headless commerce has caused a stir in the online selling world. But the question remains: To go headless or not to go headless? The answer is, that it depends. Your company goals, team workload, budget, and willingness to embrace change will determine whether going headless is the best option for your store. Outsource to experts wherever possible so you can focus on scaling. Soon the project will have paid for itself, and you’ll be operating an online store that runs like clockwork, delights shoppers, and boosts conversions.
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