(This is a guest post from our friends over at OceanX, provider of complete direct-to-consumer (DTC) solutions from eCommerce to fulfillment and everything in between.)
As retail stores slowly begin to reopen, many brands are realizing things will not be “business as usual.” During the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, customers have remained “socially distanced,” leaving their homes only to purchase essential items. For all other purchases consumers are more frequently ordering their favorite products online – leaving many brands feeling need to rapidly scale direct-to-consumer operations to meet their customers’ needs. This is not an easy task.
The challenge with scaling direct-to-consumer operations is most brands don’t know where to start. In this article, we’ll explore five areas that need to be optimized to ensure your direct-to-consumer operations scale smoothly and, most importantly, that you deliver a premium experience.
1. Optimize Your eCommerce Website
While this item seems obvious, the average cart abandonment rate across all industries is still a whopping 69.57%, illustrating there is room to grow with ecommerce enhancements. Most ecommerce companies recognize the importance of an attractive website, but successful direct-to-consumer leaders must look beyond the homepage. Experts estimate that conversions can be increased by 35.62% when checkout optimization strategies are implemented.
To help you begin, here are a few recommendations to implement:
Optimize your product pages:
Your product pages are essentially the first step of your checkout. Here consumers decide whether to buy (or not buy) your products. It’s your job to help them make that decision. Ensure every page includes details relevant to the product. Product pages are also a great area to provide ‘up-sale’ opportunities, linking to products that pair well with what the product the consumer is already looking to purchase.
Utilize data captured from your website and social analytics to help your website produce personalized content to returning visitors. Personalized content can include relevant products, discounts, and content based on their user behavior. According to Gartner, data-driven personalization on your ecommerce page can boost profits by 15%.
Optimize for mobile:
One ecommerce optimization you can’t afford to skip is optimizing your site for mobile audiences. More people use mobile devices than desktops, and it’s also a key channel for researching products and services.
2. Re-examine Your Order Management System
In many ways, your order management order system is the heart of your operation. Scaling direct-to-consumer operations will be tough if your order management system fails to accurately capture subscription information or to process personalized orders.
Your order management system must be integrated with all of the major online marketplaces where your products are sold. This will streamline order capturing and automatically capture data and sends it to our fulfillment centers. From there, you learn where the delivery needs to go, how much inventory is required to fulfill the order and the optimal warehouse from which to ship. The result is a reduction in postage costs and delivery time.
- Connect and import orders from across every channel you use to sell products
- Optimize ‘order splitting’ to split up orders and route products to the most optimal fulfillment center
- Automatically update inventory information to ensure that products don’t get oversold (this is how backorders occur)
3. Consider Looking for a New Fulfillment Partner
As direct-to-consumer orders start to increase most brands will begin to outgrow their current fulfillment partner (sometimes called a “third party logistics” provider). If your fulfillment operations begin to do the following, it may be time to look for a new (or additional) partner:
- Deliveries are delayed as backorders start piling up
- Order accuracy suffers as a result of increased shipments
- Inventory accuracy decays with increase of online orders
If your business is experiencing any of these, download this guide to find the right 3PL for your business.
4. Enhance Data Analytics for a Complete View of Your Customers’ Journey
E-commerce analytics are the key to understanding customer churn and other critical metrics that reflect the overall health of your e-commerce operations. A successful e-commerce business starts with standard metrics such as cost per order, average order value, and others, but then digs deeper into more relevant metrics depending on what business process or customer challenge it wants to address.
Data drives e-commerce analytics, but merely collecting data doesn’t allow you to make better decisions. Your strategy for using any kind of data and for choosing which metrics to prioritize should always align with your high-level business objectives.
To help you determine which metrics your business should measure, download our whitepaper that highlights the formulas and solutions to grow your direct-to-consumer business.
5. Don’t Neglect Your Customer Care Team
An excellent customer experience isn’t just ‘nice to have’ — it’s absolutely critical. For your business to flourish, you have to provide engaging technology, design, and customer service touch points throughout the entire experience. This is especially true with your customer care team.
Just as it’s important that your fulfillment operations are able to scale during peaks and surges, so should your customer care team. Working with your team and partnering with agencies to help scale operations (both increasing and decreasing) when needed is crucial for your customer experience.
There was a time when e-commerce was criticized for being too ‘impersonal.’ Today, however, the convenience of shopping online has clearly overcome that obstacle. In order to keep your customers returning to your ecommerce site, the entire experience needs to feel seamless.
If you’re looking for more information on how to scale your direct-to-consumer fulfillment operations, download our whitepaper, “The complete guide to direct-to-consumer personalization at scale.”
About the Author
Chris Accardo – VP of Marketing and Communications at OceanX
A seasoned and accomplished technology and entertainment marketing executive, brand builder and entrepreneur. In 2015, Chris was introduced to Georg Richter, President and Chief Operating Officer at Guthy-Renker. Georg was preparing to launch OceanX, a spin-off of Guthy-Renker. OceanX would focus on helping brands launch, grow and scale recurring revenue programs. Chris was a member of a small group of founders and OceanX’s first ‘full-time’ hire. He currently serves as Head of Marketing, overseeing all marketing, communications and customer acquisition efforts including lead generation, content and brand strategy, public relations and all earned, owned and paid channels. With 80% YOY growth, OceanX now operates 4 locations across the U.S., 8 customer care locations globally and runs over $1B through its subscription engine annually.
Chris is an avid outdoorsman, recovering rock star and self-proclaimed science geek. He is most drawn to great creative challenges, unique projects, innovative technology, and being intrinsically involved with a company’s growth trajectory.
OceanX makes it easy for large brands to engage customers in a direct-to-consumer (DTC) model. Our solutions include a modern, high volume fulfillment-only option or an end-to-end offering that combines order management (including subscriptions), personalized fulfillment, customer care and rich customer analytics. OceanX partners with some of the world’s most recognizable direct-to-consumer brands including Glossier, Athletic Greens, Allergan, Seed and Proactiv to help launch, grow and scale their DTC programs.