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Ecommerce Logistics: Challenges and Solutions for 2024

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Ecommerce Logistics: Challenges and Solutions for 2024

As an ecommerce business, you’ve probably experienced the following scenario: 

Your customer finds the perfect product on your site, buys it, and excitedly awaits its arrival. But then, disaster strikes – the package gets lost, arrives late, or is damaged.

Read also: Fulfillment in Logistics: How Does It Work and Why Is It Important in Ecommerce?

Cue the dreaded negative review and a potential loss of future sales. 

Sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone. Research claims that about 20% of online purchases fail to be delivered to the customer.

As 2024 further unfurls, the challenges in ecommerce logistics are evolving, but so are the solutions. In this article, we’ll break down the top logistics hurdles that online retailers face today and provide you with battle-tested solutions to conquer them.

1. Managing Seasonal Spikes in Demand

For businesses like Balsam Hill, which specializes in Christmas decorations, managing the dramatic rise in demand during the holiday season is a massive challenge.

The seasonal spike can lead to inventory shortages, overwhelmed shipping processes, and stressed customer service teams. This surge, while profitable, demands precision planning and robust logistics to ensure that the joy of the season isn’t dampened by operational hiccups.

To successfully navigate seasonal demand fluctuations, here’s a clear plan of action:

1. Improve demand forecasting.
Utilize historical sales data to predict future demand accurately. Tools that analyze trends and patterns can help forecast what you’ll need to meet customer expectations without overstocking.

2. Strengthen supplier relationships.
Build strong partnerships with suppliers to ensure they can meet your increased needs when the season peaks. Consider negotiating for flexible terms that allow for last-minute adjustments based on actual demand.

3. Leverage technology for inventory management.
Implement advanced inventory management systems that update in real time. This technology helps track stock levels across multiple locations, ensuring that you can redistribute resources swiftly if certain items run low.

4. Expand your fulfillment strategy.
Include multiple shipping partners and consider temporary fulfillment centers closer to your main markets to speed up delivery times and manage costs effectively.

By adopting these strategies, companies can transform the challenge of seasonal peaks into an opportunity for streamlined operations and enhanced customer satisfaction.

2. Minimizing Risk when Handling High-Value Returns 

For luxury brands like Hermès, known for their exquisite bags and apparel, managing returns efficiently, especially for high-value items, poses a unique challenge. The process needs to be quite careful to maintain product integrity and customer satisfaction.

The stakes are high – a mishandled return can damage both the product and the brand’s reputation, not to mention the financial losses involved.

To effectively handle high-value returns, here’s a strategic approach:

1. Streamline the returns process.
Create a clear, straightforward returns policy that’s easily accessible to customers. Simplify the steps involved in returning a product, but ensure each step maintains the highest security and quality checks.

2. Quality control checks.
Implement rigorous inspections upon return to ensure products maintain their condition and authenticity. This step is vital for luxury items to ensure they can be resold at maximum value or properly restored if necessary.

3. Enhanced packaging solutions.
Invest in high-quality, durable packaging for returns. This ensures the item is protected during transit and maintains its premium condition.

4. Leverage technology for tracking.
Use advanced tracking systems that allow both the company and the customer to monitor the return shipment. This transparency reduces customer anxiety and improves the return process.

By employing these solutions, companies can manage high-value returns effectively, preserving their brand’s prestige and maintaining customer loyalty.

3. Effectively Delivering and Installing Outdoor Structures

Companies that design and sell outdoor structures, like Pergola Kits USA, face the challenge of ensuring that delivery and installation are seamlessly coordinated.

This is essential for this niche, where timing and proper assembly directly impact customer satisfaction. The complexity increases with the size and customization of each order, requiring precise logistics planning to ensure all components arrive on time and in perfect condition.

To tackle the difficulties of delivering and installing large outdoor structures, brands can implement these actionable strategies:

1. Optimized logistics planning.
Use advanced logistics software to plan and track delivery routes efficiently. Ensure that delivery schedules are tightly aligned with installation appointments to avoid delays or miscommunications.

2. Detailed installation guides.
Provide comprehensive, easy-to-understand installation guides with each kit. Consider creating online video tutorials that customers can access via QR codes directly from their packaging.

3. Customer communication portal.
Establish a dedicated communication channel, such as a customer portal, where customers can track their delivery status, access installation guides, and communicate directly with support teams.

4. Training for installation teams.
Regularly train your installation teams on the latest assembly techniques and customer service practices. This helps meet high-quality standards and speeds up the installation process.

Focusing on clear communication and enhancing your logistical coordination can go a long way in ensuring that every customer enjoys a hassle-free installation experience.

4. Shipping Oversized Items in Bulk

Bulk-shipping large products is another huge challenge in ecommerce logistics that’s also particularly common in the outdoor structures niche.

Companies like Greenhouse Emporium, which specializes in gardening and greenhouse supplies, often grapple with the difficulties of transporting large, bulky items efficiently and economically.

These products require more space and careful handling, which can significantly increase shipping costs and logistical complexities.

Here’s how to tackle this challenge effectively:

1. Optimize packaging design.
Develop custom packaging that fits the specific dimensions and shapes of your products. Efficient packaging reduces wasted space and can lower shipping costs by fitting more items into each shipment.

2. Leverage freight consolidation.
Combine shipments through freight consolidation. This method allows multiple orders to be shipped together, maximizing space usage in transportation vehicles and reducing costs.

3. Select the right transportation partner.
Choose logistics partners with experience in handling large shipments. Look for carriers that offer flexibility in load sizes, have a good track record with bulky items, and can provide scalable solutions as your business grows.

4. Implement advanced routing software.
Use routing software to plan the most efficient delivery routes. This technology helps in reducing delivery times and fuel costs by optimizing driver routes.

Focus on these areas, and you can improve the logistics for bulky items, enhancing efficiency and customer satisfaction while controlling costs.

5. Safely Shipping Fragile Items across the Globe

Shipping fragile items internationally presents a real challenge in ecommerce logistics.

Products like artisan ceramics and home decorations, such as those offered by Katharine Pooley, require extra care due to their delicate nature. Mishandling during transit can result in damaged goods, leading to customer dissatisfaction and costly returns.

Here’s how to ensure fragile items reach their destinations intact:

1. Invest in premium packaging.
Use high-quality, robust packaging materials. Opt for a double-boxing method where the item is placed in a smaller box, which is then secured inside a larger box with ample cushioning like foam or bubble wrap.

2. Choose specialized carriers.
Partner with shipping carriers that have expertise in handling fragile items. Evaluate their handling procedures and opt for those that offer specialized services for delicate goods rather than choosing based on cost alone.

3. Secure shipping insurance.
Always insure your shipments. Clearly communicate to your customers that all fragile items are insured, enhancing their confidence and trust in your service.

4. Monitor and adapt.
Continuously monitor the shipping process and solicit customer feedback on the arrival condition of their items. Use this data to tweak and improve your packaging and handling processes regularly.

By implementing these steps, companies can minimize risks and ensure that their valuable, fragile products arrive safe and sound.

6. Dealing with Supply Chain Disruptions

Supply chain disruptions can significantly impact businesses that rely on specialized materials, such as Loro Piana, a premium fashion brand known for its high-quality clothing, shoes, and accessories.

These products are crafted from unique materials and fabrics sourced authentically from specific regions, making the supply chain complex and sensitive to disruptions. Whether it’s due to political instability, natural disasters, or pandemics, any interruption can delay production and affect sales.

Here’s how businesses can approach this challenge:

1. Diversify suppliers:
Avoid reliance on a single supplier by diversifying your sources. This strategy can help mitigate risks if one supplier faces a disruption. Establish relationships with multiple suppliers in different locations for the same raw materials.

2. Enhance inventory management.
Implement robust inventory management practices. Use forecasting tools to predict demand more accurately and maintain safety stocks of key materials to buffer against supply chain disruptions.

3. Strengthen supplier relationships.
Build strong, collaborative relationships with your suppliers. Regular communication can help anticipate potential disruptions and quickly find solutions. Consider long-term contracts to ensure a more stable supply chain.

4. Invest in supply chain visibility.
Use technology to gain real-time visibility into your supply chain. Systems that track materials from source to production can alert you to delays or issues early, allowing for quicker response times.

Implement these steps to successfully manage your unique supply chain. That way, you’ll be able to maintain the quality and availability of your premium products, even in the face of disruptions.

Final Thoughts

The strategies we’ve discussed here are more than solutions. They’re opportunities to transform your operations and lead your market.

Don’t wait for the next disruption to force your hand. Take proactive steps today to fortify your logistics, enhance customer satisfaction, and secure your business’s future.

manufacturing

The Biggest Manufacturing Industry Trends Heading Into 2024

It’s been nearly thirty years since two Northwestern University professors unveiled the first cobot – a groundbreaking industrial robot engineered to collaborate safely with humans in the same workspace.

At the time, many brushed it off as a mere novelty, perhaps a glimpse into a distant future. Yet, here we are, on the cusp of 2024, and cobots, along with other cutting-edge manufacturing innovations, are no longer just future concepts – they’re defining our present.

As we gear up for another year, the excitement around the trends shaping our industry is bubbling. Let’s dive into what’s hot and uncover ways you can harness these changes for a prosperous year ahead!

Embracing Sustainable Manufacturing

Our planet’s health is at a critical juncture. And the stats are jarring: industries account for nearly 28% of all greenhouse gas emissions. But there’s hope. Many companies are slashing their emissions by optimizing their energy use and turning to renewable sources.

Eco-Friendly Materials on the Rise

Gone are the days of single-use plastics reigning supreme. Biodegradable, recyclable, and sustainably sourced materials are all showing an uptick in interest. By 2029, the sustainable plastic packaging market is expected to hit $137 billion.

Recycling Isn’t Just an Afterthought

Recycling is becoming a core part of the manufacturing process. Innovations in recycling technology mean that waste isn’t just reduced but repurposed. In fact, some top manufacturing companies right now are producing more with recycled materials than with new ones.

Pro Tips for Manufacturers

  • Reevaluate your supply chain.
    Where can you source more sustainable materials?
  • Rethink packaging.
    Can it be reduced, reused, or recycled?
  • Invest in green tech.
    Consider upgrades that lower energy consumption or tap into renewable energy sources.

The shift toward sustainability is more than a feel-good move – it’s smart business. Companies that embrace these changes are future-proofing their operations and building trust with a new generation of consumers ready to reward their eco-efforts.

The Promise of Smart Manufacturing

Integrating tech like IoT, AI, and big data at the core of every manufacturing process completely revolutionized the ways we produce.

Machines That Think and Predict

With machine learning and AI, equipment can predict when it might fail or require maintenance.

The Internet of Things (IoT) sector has also stretched beyond smart home gadgets. It’s making manufacturing floors hum with synced devices, real-time data sharing, and seamless operations.

These innovations can be a game-changer when it comes to reducing downtime dips and increasing productivity.

Big Data, Bigger Insights

Think of data as the goldmine of the 21st century. With advanced analytics, manufacturers are uncovering patterns, predicting trends, and making informed decisions like never before.

Surprisingly, recent studies show that companies utilizing big data are 58% more likely to surpass their revenue targets.

It might sound odd, but look at the recent marketing trends around Vitamin C. The rise in its demand is a result of understanding consumer behavior, predicting interest, and tailoring production to match. That’s smart manufacturing in action.

Pro Tips for Manufacturers

  • Start small.
    Introduce one piece of tech at a time, understand it, and then scale.
  • Train your team.
    Ensure everyone’s on board and understands the benefits.
  • Stay updated.
    The tech landscape changes fast. Keep an ear to the ground and be ready to adapt.

Diving into smart manufacturing might feel like a giant leap, but it’s one that promises great returns. With the right approach, tools, and mindset, there’s no limit to what we can achieve. 

Personalization in Production

With today’s consumers hungry for unique, tailored products, manufacturers are constantly reimagining their processes to offer that touch of personalization.

The challenge is creating products that resonate and speak directly to a consumer’s needs and tastes rather than manufacturing at large.

Customization Pays Off

The numbers don’t lie. Recent surveys suggest that 62% of businesses recognize the advantages of personalization, with most highlighting its potential to help retain existing customers. That’s the result of listening to your audience.

Tech to the Rescue

Thanks to advancements in tech, personalization at scale is already a reality. 3D printing, for instance, allows for rapid prototyping and custom production runs. And the best part is that it’s becoming more affordable by the day.

Pro Tips for Manufacturers

  • Understand your audience.
    Use feedback loops, surveys, and social media to gauge what they truly want.
  • Invest in flexible tech.
    Equipment that can easily shift between tasks is invaluable in a personalized production environment.
  • Collaborate with marketing.
    They’ve got all of the valuable insights on consumer trends. Use it.

Shifting Supply Chain Strategies

With global trade tensions and unexpected disruptions (think pandemics, geopolitical issues, and inflation), there’s a new kid on the block: regional supply chains.

Businesses are now looking closer to home, ensuring quicker responses and reducing transportation emissions. They also believe that new tech and digital transformation are the future of stable supply chains.

On-shoring Gains Momentum

For many businesses, it’s not just about making it closer to home but about making it AT home. On-shoring, or bringing manufacturing back to a company’s home country, is on the rise. The benefits include boosting local employment, tighter quality control, and a significant reduction in shipping times.

Diversifying to Stay Alive

The mantra here is simple: don’t put all your eggs in one basket. By diversifying suppliers and not relying heavily on a single source, companies can better weather unexpected supply shocks. A study showed that having a diversified supply chain can significantly help to bounce back faster from disruptions.

Pro Tips for Manufacturers

  • Audit your current chain.
    Identify vulnerabilities and potential choke points.
  • Foster strong relationships.
    Build partnerships with suppliers, ensuring mutual growth and stability.
  • Embrace technology.
    Tools like AI can help predict supply chain disruptions and suggest alternative strategies in real time.

Navigating the complexities of modern supply chains might seem daunting, but with a proactive approach and a keen eye on the future, we can create systems that are efficient and resilient.

The Push Towards Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) Models

There’s a shift afoot in the manufacturing world. No longer happy to stay behind the scenes, many manufacturers are making a direct connection with the end consumer. This move towards D2C models is redefining how goods are produced, marketed, and sold.

By connecting directly with consumers, manufacturers can gather firsthand feedback, refine products, and tailor offerings more accurately. The direct link leads to increased brand loyalty and trust.

Ecommerce and Digital Platforms Lead the Way

With the rise of online shopping, manufacturers have a golden opportunity to set up digital storefronts. These platforms allow for instant feedback, dynamic pricing, and a chance to tell the brand story directly.

Streamlined Supply Chains

The D2C model cuts out middlemen, resulting in a more streamlined and efficient supply chain. This often translates to cost savings, faster delivery times, and fresher products for consumers.

Pro Tips for Manufacturers

  • Develop a strong online presence.
    This includes an easy-to-navigate ecommerce platform and active social media engagement.
  • Understand your consumer.
    Utilize analytics and data to tailor offerings and marketing strategies.
  • Prioritize customer service.
    Direct engagement means direct feedback, both good and bad. Be ready to address concerns and enhance the consumer experience.

By embracing this model, manufacturers can forge stronger ties with consumers, innovate faster, and stake their claim in the retail landscape.

Embracing Workforce Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity is the lifeline of modern businesses, manufacturing included. By welcoming a myriad of perspectives, experiences, and talents, companies enrich their work culture and sharpen their competitive edge.

Diverse teams have proven to be more innovative, adaptable, and resilient. It’s not just about optics; it’s about results. Companies with diverse leadership show a 19% higher revenue due to innovation compared to their less diverse counterparts.

Inclusion Goes Beyond Hiring

Sure, recruiting a diverse workforce is crucial. But that’s just the starting point. Creating an inclusive environment where everyone feels valued, heard, and empowered is the real goal.

Challenges in Manufacturing

While strides have been made, the manufacturing sector still grapples with representation issues, especially concerning women and minorities. But the tide is turning, with more companies championing diversity initiatives than ever before.

Pro Tips for Manufacturers

  • Revisit recruitment strategies.
    Consider blind hiring or partnerships with organizations that promote diversity.
  • Continuous education.
    Host workshops, training sessions, and discussions to build awareness and understanding.
  • Celebrate diversity.
    Recognize different cultures, backgrounds, and experiences within your team.

The path to true diversity and inclusion isn’t without its challenges. But with commitment, openness, and the right strategies, manufacturers can shape a work environment where everyone thrives.

Final Thoughts

As we usher in 2024, change is the only constant in the vibrant manufacturing landscape.

But amid these modern shifts, one thing remains certain: manufacturers who adapt, innovate, and directly engage with the evolving demands will not only survive but thrive.

So, let’s embrace these trends, foster a spirit of inclusivity, and redefine our industry’s future.

payment

How Payment Automation Can Positively Transform Your Logistics Company

Cutting down on your business’ costly, high-effort administrative tasks is always a great idea. Especially when doing so also increases accuracy and limits human errors.

One of the many operational areas where automation can play a positive role in your company is in its accounts payable (AP) departments. 

Despite how incredibly admin-heavy payment processes typically are, AP departments still seem stuck in an outdated paradigm. We get it, though. It feels risky to digitize long-established manual processes. It rocks a boat that feels stable, albeit moving really slowly. But digitization and automation, as scary as it sounds, is an absolute necessity if you want to survive in the world of logistics. 

As we referenced in a previous article on this topic, the AFP reported that 42% of all payments that businesses make still happen by printed checks. This represents a shocking amount of wasted effort. Especially if you consider the many alternatives available to AP departments nowadays.

At the same time, the payment automation industry has matured significantly. As a result, the available solutions in this space have grown in number, capabilities, and reputation. The genuinely exceptional products in this niche are enabled by innovative technology and supported by intuitive workflows. They utilize reliable, secure financial processes. 

Here are some tangible rewards your logistics company will enjoy once you’ve modernized it with one of these automation solutions.

It Speeds up Invoice Approval

According to Stampli, 57% of companies who switched to AP automation did so because it reduces invoice approval time.

In the logistics industry, where businesses rely on the services of many external service providers, unpaid invoices can quickly start piling up. This can cause an admin backlog that’s not only an operational headache to fix but can also have more serious consequences. In extreme cases, unpaid invoices can disrupt supply chains and damage the reputations of both logistics companies and their customers.

Automatic payment solutions typically enable effective workflows that simplify approvals and lower the risk of unpaid invoices falling through the cracks. 

These tools act as a dedicated, real-time communication channel between AP staff and other resources within the company. They also offer digital approval mechanisms that almost entirely remove the need for physical interaction and document handovers.

It Improves Morale and Accuracy

Data entry and invoice management both feature very prominently in Business Insider’s list of organizational morale-killers. 

Unfortunately, the nature of an AP department’s work dictates that these two tasks take up quite a bit of the average clerk’s time. Repetition leads to boredom, and boredom can lead to a lack of focus and mistakes.

This is human nature. Management or incentivization are not sustainable solutions to this inescapable reality of the manual workplace. 

What’s the answer, then? (No prizes for guessing.)

Tools that enable payment automation often include features like automatic data extraction, AI-powered data matching, and character recognition, and automated ledger capturing. 

All of these are excellent alternatives to an analog approach that’s compromised by tedium and an inevitable lack of focus.

It Prevents Payments Being Overlooked

People make mistakes. They forget to do stuff, even things that are a core function of their job. No one is infallible. 

Even when all the necessary details are taken care of, the human being responsible for clicking on the “pay” button or for taking a check to the bank can still simply forget to do so.

The fallout from this little oversight can be significant. Late payments hurt reputations. They can severely disrupt supply chains. And missing out on early-payment discounts can damage cash flows, especially when dealing with large invoice amounts as logistics companies often do.

By design, automated payment systems avoid this scenario entirely. Each tool offers a slew of features that help AP teams make sure payments are made on time. 

It Creates an Additional Source of Usable Data

One of the biggest rewards of being a data-driven company is that strategic decisions can be based on cold, hard facts rather than hunches. 

In a professional environment that’s as cutthroat as logistics, we cannot afford to rely on hunches. No matter how much instinct or insight a manager may have, nothing is going to beat meaningful data when it comes to supporting important decisions.

In all likelihood, your logistics company is already using an operations tool like CarLo, Descartes, and SBT to create meaningful information. You may even be using your CRM, accounting, or HR tools to contribute to the data pool that drives strategy.

This is a great position to be in. The usefulness of data improves dramatically as one combines information from various sources within the organization.

If your AP department is still running on pens, ink, and visits to a bank, it’s creating no digital data. And there’s no way for it to contribute to the data stacks that inform important decisions within the company.

A solid payment automation tool will solve this problem, creating cloud-hosted data that your business intelligence software will easily be able to reference.

In Closing: the Importance of Finding the Right Fit

Not all payment automation solutions are created equal. They differ in terms of price, workflow enablement, technical features, and sensitivity to industry regulations.

That’s why it’s vital for you to do a thorough investigation into the products in this space and choose one that best suits your logistics company. 

Take your time and think through what sets one solution apart from another. Be sure to invest in one that’s not only ideal for the nuances of your industry but also your company’s established workflows and culture.

This is a big decision. The stakes are high. Don’t hesitate to involve your entire AP team to get their input. Each of them will be able to provide unique insights into their daily tasks and advise on how a particular product could help them or hinder them.

values

How to Effectively Communicate Your Value as a Logistics Company

A company’s values are its ultimate selling point. Your services may be very much like every other logistics company’s, yet what will always set you apart are the values and belief system you nurture. 

The question that now naturally arises is how can we communicate this value with our customers? What are some of the marketing and PR tactics that can be employed to best showcase that deeper and more meaningful level of our business? 

After all, it’s very easy to promise you’ll store and ship item A from point B to point C in record time – and it makes you no different from your competitors.

Here’s what you can do to rise above the competition and show your customers what you’re really about. 

Know Your Target Customer(s) Deeply 

First of all, you need to truly understand what your customers are looking for. It helps if you target a very specific audience, as opposed to casting a wide net. The more specialized you are, the better you will be able to understand the unique needs of a customer. 

For instance, you may work with brands that sell a specific kind of merchandise. Let’s say this is the merch of famous social media influencers. What these kinds of clients will want is speedy shipping and a unique packaging experience, one that can be personalized to each individual influencer. 

By researching the online habits of your target audience and their requirements (via email, call, in person), you will be better able to tailor your services. You’ll have crucial knowledge to help you find that link that connects your values with their needs. 

Write Focused Web Copy 

One of the best ways to communicate with your audience is via your website copy. Ideally, you want it to focus on your customers’ needs, pain points, and desires, and how your solutions are able to solve them. Don’t go on and on about how great you are: explain how what you do solves their problems. 

Always speak in the language of your customers (which is where the research from the above point comes in). You can’t expect the same voice to appeal to international corporations and small local businesses.

Use superlative and comparative language where it makes sense. Phrases like “the most affordable,” “the most reliable,” “the longest-running,” etc. will help highlight what makes you stand out and how this can be beneficial to your audience.

Use Statistics and Social Proof 

You should also look to condense your key stats down into easily digestible bits of information. Numbers often speak louder than words. To add another layer of trust to your website, point out the number of satisfied clients you’ve worked with, the miles you’ve driven, the number of items you’ve shipped, and so on. 

Here’s an example from ShowMojo, which uses five simple statistics to underline the benefits of using their services. 

Of course, the challenge here is to top your competition. What if someone has been in business longer than you have? When this is the case, and it most often is, try to pinpoint those unique values that make you different. 

Choose to focus on one type of item or one type of service. Highlight something about your facilities that makes you stand out. Shine a light on your employees or even your customers. 

The copy you use can also be what puts you on the map. For instance, a phrase like “234 headaches averted” is more emotive than the customary “234 customers served”. 

Use Imagery to Communicate Better 

The other great way to communicate better with your audience is to use imagery and icons that strengthen your message. 

Consider every single visual element of your website: starting from the color story, to the images and the way the pages are structured. What can you improve that will make your customers both have a better experience browsing and better understand what you’re all about?

Visuals have an inherent ability to spark emotions and connections on a level that is much deeper than words. Just the use of different, better quality images that trigger a certain emotional response can improve your conversion rates

Your choice of imagery and visuals ties right back to knowing what your audience wants. What is the major challenge they are facing? And what are you doing that will make it better?

For instance, Haystack has a great animation that’s designed to make you feel a bit on edge at first. But then, they provide a solution in the same visual, illustrating how their services simplify operations and streamline processes.

Create Memorable Offers 

Sometimes it’s all about sticking in someone’s mind. You may not convert a visitor on the first go, but if you create a memorable offer that solves a particular need, they are likely to remember you and come back when they need that specific service. 

The future (and present) of marketing is in personalization and customization. Offers tailored to the needs of every individual customer are much more valuable and sell better than pre-made packages that only assume what they will need. 

If you’ve been in business for a while, you’ll be able to make the best of both worlds and create package-like offers that still allow for plenty of customization where it matters the most. Whether it’s storage solutions, pickup and delivery times, the duration of your services, or any other variable that can be tweaked per customer, offering a choice (but not too much of it) is what makes customers convert. 

Make sure you don’t fall into the trap of choice paralysis, and only allow your customers to tailor some elements of the offer. Too much choice and having to come up with the entire service from scratch will only cause more headache. 

Communicate Your Unique Value Proposition Wherever Possible 

Finally, you want to make sure there are numerous touchpoints between your customers and your values. Here are just four of them:

-Your web copy – Everything you write online, from your website copy to your social media captions should communicate your UVP. 

-Speaking to customers and prospects – In-person marketing is just as important as your web presence. After all, if you communicate one message online and then come off as a completely different company in person, you won’t be doing yourself much good. Ensure all company representatives are coached on the best ways of communicating your values and USPs. 

-Speaking with others in your industry – Word-of-mouth marketing is also an important aspect of customer communication. So, you want your values to shine through in your chats and emails with everyone in your industry, as well as your current customers. You never know who might send your next client your way. 

-When someone asks your employees about their job – Your staff (even the employees who don’t have customer-facing jobs) should know the values your company is built on. They can represent them when speaking to friends and acquaintances who ask them what it is they do for a living. 

Final Thoughts 

Communicating value comes down to reinforcing your core message and understanding what your audience is truly after. With enough research, a decent creative effort, and a lot of testing, you can come up with a formula that not only converts your leads but also makes them proud to be working with you. 

e-commerce

8 TRENDS DRIVING E-COMMERCE INNOVATION—AND THE PLAYERS DRIVING THEM

The world of e-commerce has undergone quite a year. And with everything going on in the world, chances are that growth, innovation, and change are what we can expect this new year as well.

Global growth or no global growth, you do have to stay on top of the latest trends if you want to stay on top in the world of e-commerce–otherwise, you will find yourself at the bottom of the heap. Let’s take a look at eight trends that are set to continue driving innovation in 2021 and beyond.

Mobile Continues to Be on the Rise

Even though mobile search overtook desktop a long time ago, mobile is still on the rise in every sense of the word. Focusing on the experience your users have when accessing your store via their mobile phones is certainly a trend that will not disappear soon.

Elements to focus on include:

-Speed

-Ease of access

-Ease of navigation

-Safety

-Personalization

A good example of the kind of mobile-first website design we are referring to is the LMNT Essential Labs website (drinklmnt.com). It is super-fast, it is responsive, and it has retained that mobile-friendly design on the desktop version as well, providing more cohesion.

Voice Search Is Also Important

By 2025, it is predicted that 75 percent of U.S. homes will have a set of smart speakers. And while voice search is currently still a bit of a dark horse for some users, Alexa, Siri and Amazon Echo are slowly becoming a daily part of many lives.

What you as an e-commerce store owner can do is optimize for voice search, and enable your visitors to execute voice-based search commands and navigation on the website (or at least on its mobile version).

This will be a significant investment, and you may be able to hold off on it for a while. However, if your target market is among the population that is already heavily relying on voice commands, the time is now.

Personalization as the New King of Marketing

Shoppers have always responded better to offers that were tailor-made for them. Think of personalized letters in the snail mail, or calls from sales assistants who have reviewed your loyalty card with a brand and know what kinds of products you like to purchase.

Today, with the rise of AI, e-commerce is heavily relying on data-driven personalization. You can now know more about your visitors and their behavior online than they themselves know about themselves. This leads to a bit of a safety and trust issue, but also provides an incredible shopping experience.

The more you can tailor your ads, offers and other marketing assets to a specific visitor, the better you will fare. Especially since other e-commerce brands are already doing it, and doing it well.

Social Commerce Making an Impact

As modern shoppers are spending more and more time on social media, it was only a matter of time before social media and e-commerce merged into one big happy experience.

Social media platforms are mini search engines themselves, and 55 percent of shoppers are making purchases from a brand’s own social media posts. As plenty of these platforms now allow shopping straight from the post, impulse purchases are on the rise–as are conversion rates.

A brand that has embraced social commerce is Zoma Sleep. This company has enabled their Instagram shop, allowing you to purchase one of their mattresses directly from the image posted on their feed. Never has it been this easy to get something delivered straight to your door.

More Payment Options are Becoming Available

Not too long ago, there was the option of paying for an online purchase via credit card, when PayPal and Stripe were still distrusted as a scam. Today, we have hundreds of ways to pay online, from cryptocurrency to wire transfer.

Customers are expecting different payment options more and more–especially since all the biggest e-commerce names have allowed for them (think Amazon).

If you are insisting on one (or two) ways to pay, you are likely missing out on some serious traffic, and you’ll need to consider adding more options as soon as possible. However, remember that you should first focus on the security of your store, and only then allow new payment options–they will not matter one bit if your data storage is hacked.

Dynamic Pricing is Here to Help

It can be very difficult to keep track of all the fluctuating prices in your niche and industry. After all, in order to remain competitive, you need to be able to adjust your prices when and if needed–and to be able to do that, you need to keep track of the prices of your competition.

Tools like Aura are here to help you out–if you are using Amazon as a marketplace. On the other hand, if you are using Shopify, you can also benefit from a dynamic repricing tool that will automatically keep track of the prices you set and alert you when a change needs to be made (or make the change for you).

The Importance of Order, Purchase and Inventory Management Automation

In the world of e-commerce, automating as much as you can is sometimes what sets you apart from your competition. And while they are busying themselves with the tasks you have automated, you have the time and resources to devote your energies elsewhere.

One of the key processes you should be automating is the management of your orders, purchases and inventory. This can easily be done with a tool like InFlow that will keep an eye on your orders and inventory, alerting you to every important change–while you grow your business.

B2B is Also on the Rise–Again

The B2B e-commerce market is expected to reach $1.1 trillion in 2021. As more of these businesses are moving online, you need to consider how B2B buyers like to be charmed. Working in a B2B environment is different from working in B2C–at least in the world of e-commerce.

What you need to consider is that millennials are becoming the new B2B buyers–so marketing for them is key. You also need to remember that Gen Z is also starting to make their mark on the workplace, and they do need to be treated differently.

Think in terms of simpler solutions, better user experience, more self-serve options and providing all the information they need to make a purchase without them having to contact your sales team.

Trying to stay on top of all of these e-commerce trends might prove to be a challenge. However, if you manage to focus on the ones that pertain to your target audience the most, you’ll be able to greet the coming year well-prepared.

_________________________________________________________________

Karl Kangur is the CEO of Result Compass, a marketing agency specializing in SEO, social media advertising and lead generation, with offices in Tallinn, Estonia, Hong Kong and London.

trends

8 Trends Driving E-commerce Innovation

The world of e-commerce has undergone quite a year. And with everything going on in the world, chances are that growth, innovation, and change are what we can expect in the year to come as well.

Global growth or no global growth, you do have to stay on top of the latest trends if you want to stay on top in the world of e-commerce – otherwise, you will find yourself at the bottom of the heap. Let’s take a look at eight trends that are set to continue driving innovation in 2021 and beyond.

Mobile Continues to Be on the Rise

Even though mobile search overtook desktop a long time ago, mobile is still on the rise in every sense of the word. Focusing on the experience your users have when accessing your store via their mobile phones is certainly a trend that will not disappear soon.

Elements to focus on include:

-Speed

-Ease of access

-Ease of navigation

-Safety

-Personalization

A good example of the kind of mobile-first website design we are referring to is the LMNT website. It is super-fast, it is responsive, and it has retained that mobile-friendly design on the desktop version as well, providing more cohesion.

image source: drinklmnt.com

Voice Search Is Also Important

By 2025, it is predicted that 75% of US homes will have a set of smart speakers. And while voice search is currently still a bit of a dark horse for some users, Alexa, Siri, and Amazon Echo are slowly becoming a daily part of many lives.

What you as an e-commerce store owner can do is optimize for voice search, and enable your visitors to execute voice-based search commands and navigation on the website (or at least on its mobile version).

This will be a significant investment, and you may be able to hold off on it for a while. However, if your target market is among the population that is already heavily relying on voice commands, the time is now.

Personalization as the New King of Marketing

Shoppers have always responded better to offers that were tailor-made for them. Think of personalized letters in the snail mail, or calls from sales assistants who have reviewed your loyalty card with a brand and know what kinds of products you like to purchase.

Today, with the rise of AI, e-commerce is heavily relying on data-driven personalization. You can now know more about your visitors and their behavior online than they themselves know about themselves. This leads to a bit of a safety and trust issue, but also provides an incredible shopping experience.

The more you can tailor your ads, offers, and other marketing assets to a specific visitor, the better you will fare. Especially since other e-commerce brands are already doing it, and doing it well.

Social Commerce Making an Impact

As modern shoppers are spending more and more time on social media, it was only a matter of time before social media and e-commerce merged into one big happy experience.

Social media platforms are mini search engines themselves, and 55% of shoppers are making purchases from a brand’s own social media posts. As plenty of these platforms now allow shopping straight from the post, impulse purchases are on the rise – as are conversion rates.

A brand that has embraced social commerce is Zoma Sleep. This company has enabled their Instagram shop, allowing you to purchase one of their mattresses directly from the image posted on their feed. Never has it been this easy to get something delivered straight to your door.

image source: zomasleep.com

More Payment Options are Becoming Available

Not too long ago, there was the option of paying for an online purchase via credit card, when PayPal and Stripe were still distrusted as a scam. Today, we have hundreds of ways to pay online, from cryptocurrency to wire transfer.

Customers are expecting different payment options more and more – especially since all the biggest e-commerce names have allowed for them (think Amazon).

If you are insisting on one (or two) ways to pay, you are likely missing out on some serious traffic, and you’ll need to consider adding more options as soon as possible. However, remember that you should first focus on the security of your store, and only then allow new payment options – they will not matter one bit if your data storage is hacked.

Dynamic Pricing Is Here to Help

It can be very difficult to keep track of all the fluctuating prices in your niche and industry. After all, in order to remain competitive, you need to be able to adjust your prices when and if needed – and to be able to do that, you need to keep track of the prices of your competition.

Tools like Aura are here to help you out – if you are using Amazon as a marketplace. On the other hand, if you are using Shopify, you can also benefit from a dynamic repricing tool that will automatically keep track of the prices you set and alert you when a change needs to be made (or make the change for you).

The Importance of Order, Purchase, and Inventory Management Automation

In the world of e-commerce, automating as much as you can is sometimes what sets you apart from your competition. And while they are busying themselves with the tasks you have automated, you have the time and resources to devote your energies elsewhere.

One of the key processes you should be automating is the management of your orders, purchases, and inventory. This can easily be done with a tool like InFlow that will keep an eye on your orders and inventory, alerting you to every important change – while you grow your business.

B2B Is Also on the Rise – Again

The B2B e-commerce market is expected to reach $1.1 trillion in 2021. As more of these businesses are moving online, you need to take into account how B2B buyers like to be charmed. Working in a B2B environment is different from working in B2C – at least in the world of e-commerce.

What you need to take into account is that millennials are becoming the new B2B buyers – so marketing for them is key. You also need to remember that Gen Z is also starting to make their mark on the workplace, and they do need to be treated differently.

Think in terms of simpler solutions, better user experience, more self-serve options, and providing all the information they need to make a purchase without them having to contact your sales team.

Final Thoughts

Trying to stay on top of all of these e-commerce trends might prove to be a challenge. However, if you manage to focus on the ones that pertain to your target audience the most, you’ll be able to greet the coming year well-prepared.

________________________________________________________________

Karl Kangur is the CEO of Result Compass