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Competition is fierce across all industries – especially for e-commerce brands. But it’s that very competition that should fuel us to do something different or unusual to gain the competitive edge we need.
I founded The Bouqs Company, a cut-to-order online flower delivery service, in an effort to provide flower industry consumers with something unique. I had always hated the process of purchasing flowers online, through the big name brands with their bait-and-switch pricing, cheesy upsells (my wife isn’t into teddy bears) and hidden fees. So, I set out to launch an online brand that would remedy the issues I often ran into and provide consumers with a one-of-a-kind experience.
Here are several hacks I’ve learned from my experience in launching an online business that you can use to give your e-commerce brand a boost, especially in those early days:
Maintaining a sense of transparency is important for all brands, but it’s particularly important for online brands, since their website and storefront are one in the same. At The Bouqs Company, we strive to be as transparent as possible with customers in a number of ways.
For one, our company’s “About Us” page isn’t a short, vague paragraph – it’s a detailed conversation between us and the customer. I call it a conversation because we think of our customers as friends, so we adopted a friendly, casual tone to introduce our service. Your “About Us” section is a reflection of your unique brand and, ultimately, where consumers are convinced to choose your product or service.
Second, we take customers through every step of the process. They can see where their product is coming from and how custom requests are being met, assuring them that they’ll be getting their money’s worth. In our industry in particular, there’s almost no transparency, so providing a farm-direct model and reassuring clients that their products are grown and sourced in a responsible manner, is in itself a differentiator. For you it may also be sourcing, customer service policies or terms and conditions. Whichever it is, be sure to be transparent – your clients will appreciate it and help spread the word as a result.
Offer Free Shipping
In an effort to make up for gaps in the online shopping experience, e-commerce brands are adopting unique methods to boost their online brand. One way some companies, including Bouqs.com, are doing this is by offering free shipping. Why is offering free shipping something worth considering? The 2014 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper study found that the leading reason for shopping cart abandonment is shipping costs (58%). If that doesn’t convince you to consider free shipping, then think about the friction it causes in your own life. Shipping just feels painful! Ditch it if the economics make sense, and watch conversion rates soar.
According to the same UPS study, 93% of online shoppers have taken action in order to qualify for free shipping, including adding more items to their cart or joining a loyalty program. The benefits of offering free shipping is obvious for consumers, but what about for online merchants?
As mentioned, free shipping can boost conversion rates, leading to more orders and increased profits. In the long term, it can grow your customer base as a lot of online shoppers specifically look for online retailers that offer free shipping. Finally, a pro-customer feature such as this can give e-commerce brands a competitive advantage within their industry. If you can make the economics work, offer up free shipping for all your clients, or build in a velvet rope model with minimum order values or lifetime value triggers. Your clients will love it and the per-unit costs will be made up through improved LTV.
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