Almost three years ago, I was having lunch in Atlanta with a friend and aspiring entrepreneur who had just launched her own fashion brand. The clothing line, which consisted primarily of graphic tees and athletic apparel for young adults, had been specifically tailored to target my exact demographic. However, the apparel and retail space is an incredibly tough market to compete in. And as a marketing major who created ads for a living, I was itching to pry further into her go-to market strategy.
As we sat down and began our discussion, I was immediately impressed with my friend’s tactical approach to online sales. Having clearly understood the importance of establishing an e-commerce presence, she had hired a top-tier web designer to construct a visually appealing website, and the Google and Facebook ads she had deployed were garnering a significant number of impressions. After just 2 months of her site’s “go-live”, she had already attracted 5,000+ unique visitors. Very strong numbers considering her limited funding. However, only a few dozen of those visitors had actually bought something, and many of those were either friends or relatives. So, in hopes of helping out a friend and gaining a shirt, I decided to visit the site and make a purchase of my own.
About a week after our lunchtime conversation, I jumped on to her website to pick a shirt. It didn’t take me long to find one I liked. But as I went to complete my purchase, I stumbled across the root cause of her low turnover. The checkout experience was a major burden. While browsing the site was easy and you could very intuitively scroll through the range of items for sale, the nearly five-step checkout process was confusing and tedious. It wanted me to create an account, sign up for a newsletter, and refer a friend. I was just trying to buy a shirt. And, to make matters worse, shipping my $25 purchase would cost me $10. Paying $10 for shipping a $25 item seemed excessive. Clearly, the checkout and fulfillment pieces of my friend’s e-commerce strategy had taken a back seat to marketing.
Whether you’re a large enterprise jump-starting a direct-to-consumer sales channel or a start-up just beginning to sell your products, developing a robust e-commerce strategy should be at the top of your priorities list. Given the rapid growth of both B2B and B2C e-commerce over the past decade and the strong projections for growth moving forward, businesses of all sizes and industries are investing heavily in their online presence as they seek to gain market share across a new generation of shopper. But before companies dive too deep into their e-commerce marketing and sales efforts, it is important to take a step back and consider all the steps involved with building a sustainable, long-term e-commerce strategy.
As businesses enter the e-commerce arena, brand awareness and positioning are almost always top-of-mind. In a world where companies collectively spend hundreds of billions of dollars on media advertising every year, data indicates that the average consumer is exposed to ~10,000 ads every day. These are the types of figures that keep business leaders up at night, and often serve as the driving force for companies to invest significantly in online ads and sales campaigns as they seek to stay abreast of their competitors. But what many businesses fail to recognize when deploying these campaigns is that streamlining their "back-office" e-commerce workflows (i.e. the workflows consisting of an online order being captured, fulfilled, and delivered to the customer) are just as important as optimizing the front-end marketing and sales efforts.
While many businesses invest significant time and money simply trying to drive customers to their site, they are less proactive in evaluating what happens when these customers actually visit their site and try to make a purchase. All too often, the checkout process is cumbersome, and the shipping options are expensive or slow. The result? In 2017, ~70% of online shopping carts were abandoned during the checkout process, with unexpected shipping costs serving as the primary abandonment factor. The takeaway? While promoting your brand and driving website traffic is crucial to e-commerce success, the simplification of your online check-out process and efficiency of your order fulfillment workflows are what will ultimately drive customers to complete a purchase and revisit your site for future purchases.
For businesses looking to move beyond front-end e-commerce marketing and sales functions to focus on the bigger picture, consider the following checkout and order fulfillment tips. In the long run, incorporating these fulfillment strategies into your broader e-commerce game plan will allow you to win at every point of interaction with customers.
As companies look to deploy e-commerce strategies, it is vital that they consider ALL the steps to successfully establishing their online presence. This requires looking beyond the front-end sales and marketing functions and spending an equal amount of time and energy on optimizing the check-out and order fulfillment processes. Remember, while effective sales and marketing efforts will drive customers to your site, a simple and efficient checkout and fulfillment process is what ultimately results in customers completing a purchase and revisiting your site for future purchases.
As you evaluate the best-fit fulfillment option for your business, we would encourage you to consider Ware2Go and the broader on-demand warehousing and fulfillment industry. Over the past 3-5 years, the on-demand fulfillment landscape has blossomed as a growing number of businesses recognize the time and cost-savings opportunities, as well as the benefits associated with having a 1-2-day delivery footprint for all their customers nationwide. For more information about the services offered by Ware2Go, browse our FAQs page or contact a representative!