How Can You Compete Against Amazon

Yes, when it comes to ecommerce, Amazon is the proverbial elephant in the room. Ignoring the online giant isn’t going to make it disappear, so the only business you have control over is your own. Do you wave the white flag or dig in and fight?

The good news is that, with a little creativity and skillful marketing, you can successfully compete against Amazon. Incorporate these valuable tips to reinvigorate your digital storefront and your ecommerce fulfillment services will be running on all cylinders in 2020.

1. Refine Your Focus

Amazon’s blessing and curse is that it wants to be all things to all people. As a small- or mid-sized online business, you have the flexibility to find your company’s specific niche and learn that segment inside and out. Once you’re established as an authority, you’ll become the go-to source for your product offering.

2. Leverage Content Marketing and Social Media

Amazon is a faceless behemoth and they do nothing to counteract that image. Use content marketing and social media to personalize your company and forge a connection with customers. Start a blog, share interesting stories and articles, run a contest, post pictures and videos. Be sure to track results and fine-tune your strategy based on what’s working and what isn’t.

3. Optimize Customer Experience

Can you even remember the last time Amazon made any changes to their website? Product pages are busy, clunky and boring, regardless of the device. A sleek, streamlined, user-friendly interface that’s consistent across all platforms and devices goes a long way toward making your company stand out. By the way, if you haven’t optimized for mobile traffic yet, what are you waiting for?

4. Don’t Fall Into the Price Trap

Some retailers make the mistake of lowering prices as a knee-jerk response to competition. Almost no one has the same economies of scale found at Amazon, so slashing prices is a losing proposition. Memberships, limited-quantity items and customization are just a few ways you can make shopping your storefront feel exclusive, which is a more effective way of differentiating yourself.

5. Offer Rewards and Loyalty Programs

Did you know that, until Apple Pay finally edged it out in late 2019, Starbucks had the most widely-used mobile payment app? Part of the reason is because users earn points toward free Starbucks food and beverages. Programs that offer discount codes, special offers and similar perks to frequent shoppers or members are a reliable way to build loyalty and encourage repeat sales.

6. Create a Subscription Service

According to a study by top management consulting firm Bain & Company in conjunction with Harvard Business School, just a five percent increase in customer retention can boost profits anywhere from 25 to 95 percent. A subscription service is easy to implement and brings in steady revenue while reducing costs. As a bonus, repeat customers are more likely to make referrals.

7. Provide Top-Level Shipping and Delivery

Thanks to Amazon Prime, online shoppers expect prompt, free shipping and convenient delivery. While it may not be feasible for you to offer 100 percent free shipping, you should provide at least some type of option, such as free delivery for a minimum total purchase. Tracking details and a no-fuss return policy should also be included in your shipping and delivery program.

Medallion: Ecommerce Fulfillment Services for Today and the Future

Are you looking for ecommerce fulfillment services that will grow along with your business? Medallion Fulfillment & Logistics offers a full range of services that are flexible enough to scale according to your needs.

Contact us to learn more, including information about our Amazon replenishment warehousing service. We now have a warehouse in Boston, Massachusetts in addition to our Los Angeles, California location to serve your need for fast delivery nationwide.

Website Chatbots: What to Know to Embrace This Emerging Technology

In the United States, more than 50 percent of millennials and Gen Xers have interacted with chatbots, making these conversational programs one of today’s hottest eCommerce trends. But in reality, Siri’s and Alexa’s “parents,” Eliza and Parry, actually date back to the mid-60s and early 70s.

Simulated human conversation may not be new, but thanks to modern advancements in technology, these programs can now be integral parts of your marketing and branding strategies. Our fulfillment warehouse experts share what you need to know to successfully incorporate website chatbots in 2019.

Chatbots: Personalizing the Online Experience

Real-time interaction is a major advantage brick-and-mortar stores still have over virtual storefronts. Nearly one-third of online shoppers cite difficulty in getting answers to simple questions as their biggest frustration with eCommerce.

Chatbots are uniquely equipped to handle common customer service inquiries. Once you import your company’s FAQs, chat history and other relevant information, a chatbot uses the data to “train” itself. As the chatbot interacts with visitors to your website, the experiences serve to further refine its performance.

Need more reasons why you should be using chatbots?

• More than 50 percent of the participants in a Facebook survey said they’re more likely to shop with a business that provides chat services.

• Global research and advisory firm Gartner predicts that by 2020, 85 percent of engagement with eCommerce sites will be conducted via self-service options and chatbots.

• Surveys by Oracle, one of the leading multinational computer technology companies, indicate 80 percent of businesses currently use chatbots or are making plans to by 2020.

Value Add-On for Improving Productivity

Customer service is a natural application for chatbots, but their usefulness doesn’t end there. In addition to providing information, chatbots have the ability to gather data more fluidly than human agents.

• Chatbots can be programmed to ask targeted questions in order to qualify potential leads.

• Hard-to-navigate websites are another top source of frustration for online customers. Chatbots direct shoppers to the proper area of your website simply by asking what they’re looking for and posing other leading questions.

• Use of chatbots frees your staff to work on more urgent tasks, reducing operational costs while maximizing effectiveness. Chatbots are also available 24/7 without being subject to down time or attrition.

Chatbot Guidelines

1. No matter how sophisticated a chatbot program may be it’s meant to supplement human interaction, not replace it. Proper use of chatbots includes programming them to “know” when a customer should be directed to a human customer service agent.

2. While consistency is one of the advantages of chatbots, the programs are not one-size-fits-all. Chatbots are designed to be fit the needs of a specific industry, so a chatbot used by a healthcare organization will not be the same one you would want for your eCommerce business.

3. Start simple. Create a chatbot to handle basic customer requests that form the bulk of your customers’ interactions. Once the chatbot has been operational for a while, review the chat logs to detect patterns and trends, and then decide if you want to add further refinements or develop new chatbots to handle other tasks.

4. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Think of chatbots as a way to streamline basic business interactions, not add complicated and unnecessary bells and whistles.

Personalized Fulfillment Warehouse Services for a High-Tech World

Are you tired of fulfillment warehouse companies that treat you like nothing more than a number? At Medallion Fulfillment & Logistics, we consider ourselves a partner in your success, so your specific needs are our first priority.

Contact us to learn more about our cost-effective, flexible and scalable fulfillment warehouse services.

Subscription Box Services Lead the Way in DTC Brands

Subscription Boxes Work to Build Your Business

Over 25% of consumers are signed up for subscription box services. The industry now contains over 3,500 established box services worth roughly $10 billion. And, according to MultiChannelMerchant, 75% of DTC (direct to consumer) brands will offer subscription services by 2023. As this model becomes more popular, many brands are wondering if they should ride this wave with their own subscription boxes or supply their products to mixed or mystery boxes to attract new customers. At the same time, fulfillment partners need to tone up their skills and highlight their capabilities in this area to attract and retain more clients.

Subscription boxes are beneficial to everyone, which is one of the reasons they have become so popular across the board. Here are some of the benefits.

Consumers

  • Save money
  • Try new products

The benefits to consumers are simple. Not only can they avoid running out of products that they use regularly and count on, they also save money on these products. Plus, they can discover new products in the samples included in the boxes. Sometimes the boxes are random selections, while other boxes are selected entirely by the consumer. Each has its own benefits. In a previous post, we explored some of the popular subscription box options.

Brands

  • Better order forecasting
  • Enhance customer loyalty
  • Improve bottom line

Order Forecasting
One of the challenges of retail in general is the predictability of order flow. Some brands experience a very regular pattern throughout the year, with peak season activity predictably raising revenue. But most brands struggle to anticipate the order volume. Forecasting isn’t easy, especially when it’s about the future.

The subscription box model helps regulate this flow by grouping orders and standardizing the activity among subscribed customers. Although some will cancel their subscriptions, the overall pattern will be more regular than businesses without subscription options, evening out cash flow and helping predict revenues month over month.

Back in the dark early days of e-commerce, a business would need to manually create reorder logic to ship to a customer each month. Today there are numerous services that provide this capability within existing e-commerce platforms, communicating with fulfillment partners as well as the customer and fully automating the process.

Customer Engagement and Loyalty

Subscribing is an act of loyalty. This model helps build a relationship between the customer and the brand. The consumer is more likely to purchase from the business that they deal with so regularly and the business has an easier time creating engagement for promotions or new items and cross-selling.

Building this level of trust paves the way for potential up-sells. Familiarity breeds customer loyalty in this case. And it’s worth noting that many of these brands would not have encountered or attracted the customers without the exposure to product trial that subscription boxes create.

Bottom Line Benefits

But subscription boxes can also save the brand money. By regulating order flow, there is more predictability in inventory, which prompts a leaner supply chain and reduces carrying costs. At the same time, the brand gains new customers and a more predictable order flow.

Fulfillment Services

  • Better forecasting
  • Fill niche services

Similarly, a fulfillment service that processes subscription boxes may be able to move inventory through more quickly, cutting down on stagnant inventory. Storage costs are rarely a significant source of revenue for a fulfillment house, but they can impact the brand’s bottom line. By filling orders and utilizing inventory in a more efficient manner, a brand can achieve JIT inventory (just-in-time inventory) and smooth the supply chain so there are less stuck-in-storage costs. This is good for everyone.

Shipping large volume for a client once per month helps a 3PL better predict staffing needs. 3PLs are accustomed to ramping up staff for peak holiday seasons, but when a client has a very successful sales promotion without warning, this can create a strain on the fulfillment operation. Again, subscription boxes help regulate this flow and make the peaks more predictable. Not only does the fulfillment partner benefit from more regular peak order volumes, but this improves efficiency which impacts the 3PL’s bottom line.

Much like the brands themselves, fulfillment partners can forecast revenue more easily with the more regulated pattern lent by subscriptions.

Fulfillment services who are adept at serving the subscription box market are prepared to handle the relevant logistics. These companies have worked out the kinks and are set up to provide service to this niche, which is growing rapidly. This expertise helps them provide quality service to their clients across a variety of fulfillment scenarios.

Conclusion

The subscription box model works well for all parties in the transaction.

  • Predictability (of delivery, order flow, revenue)
  • Efficiency
  • Relationships
  • Saves money (retail prices, inventory, supply chain, preparation)

If your business is not involved in subscription service, this may be a good time to research your options. Almost every brand has a product that fits in one or more of these boxes.

Sprocket Express is a division of Medallion Enterprises and owned by Medallion Fulfillment & Logistics.

The Evolution of Ecommerce

History of eCommerce

In 1979, Michael Aldrich invented online shopping that continued to gain widespread popularity and made shopping a lot easier. It is now known as ecommerce. Over time, it has become the most preferred method of shopping and has provided significant opportunities for businesses around the world. According to a study, North America alone had around 223 million online shoppers in 2017, and world retail ecommerce sales reached $2.3 trillion. It is estimated that retail ecommerce sales will reach $4.9 trillion by 2021.

Early Years of Ecommerce

Michael Aldrich found a way to connect domestic television and a multi-user transaction processing computer via telephone lines. His invention was called the teleputer, and it allowed users to buy various items without leaving their homes. Aldrich’s invention enabled people to carry out transactions anytime and anywhere.

In 1991, when the World Wide Web became widely available, ecommerce experienced massive growth. One of the very first successful ecommerce platforms was eBay. In 1995, eBay launched an online auction website where people bought and sold used items from one another. By 1996, eBay sold well over $7.2 million worth of goods and had only two full-time employees.

Another company that saw its stock rise with the emergence of the World Wide Web was Amazon. Founded in 1994 by Jeff Bezos, Amazon was created with the intention to sell books. In the first month, it started selling books across the US and other 45 countries. Today, Amazon offers a wide range of products.

The Growth of Ecommerce

Ecommerce is continuously evolving since it has to keep up with the competitive online market and the rate of development. With the emergence of newer technologies, online retailers have to utilize new and effective ways to generate leads and make more sales. Some of the inventions that have drastically impacted ecommerce are digital marketing and mcommerce. The infographic below will further provide you with more facts about ecommerce.

Tips for Turning Instagram into a Sales Generating Machine for your Store

Medallion Fulfillment - a Fulfillment Company

So you’ve optimized your website content and you regularly engage with followers on Facebook and Twitter. If that’s the extent of your social media campaign, you’re ignoring a dynamic platform that can be a valuable tool in your online arsenal.

Instagram is more than just a place to post pictures of artfully arranged food. With approximately 800 million active monthly users, Instagram provides a great platform for you to connect with prospective customers.

Among the top 100 brands worldwide, 90 percent have an Instagram account, yet the business world has barely scratched the surface of the platform’s potential. Follow these tips from Instagram marketing experts to get orders flowing through your fulfillment warehouse.

Follow the Leader

Why spend time trying to reinvent the wheel? Large companies such as eBay and Amazon have the time and resources to research the impact of hashtags, relationship between text and image and other elements that make up effective Instagram posts. Study their accounts carefully and apply their methods.

Tell an Intriguing “Story”

Instagram Stories is a feature that lets you post a set of videos and still images in a slideshow format. Each Story stays online for a period of 24 hours, making it a perfect vehicle to tease promotions, new items and any other information you want to highlight.

Team Up with Influencers

Influence is a valuable commodity in marketing, and Instagram Influencers can help you exponentially expand your reach. Influencers are Instagram users who have established a reputation of expertise and trustworthiness in a particular area or niche.

Not sure where to start? Tomoson is a digital marketing platform with a searchable database of more than 50,000 Influencers that can be filtered by demographics, total reach and other criteria.

Walk in Your Customers’ Shoes

As with any social media marketing, an Instagram campaign requires careful planning and curation to achieve the desired results. When posting content to your Instagram feed, take a step back and view it as a customer would. Are the images and text projecting the image you want to cultivate?

Think Quality, not Quantity

Instagram marketing isn’t just a numbers game. You want to develop a base of followers who are truly interested in your brand and what you have to say. Instead of putting your Instagram feed on autopilot; focus on ways to connect with quality followers:

• Look for users via hashtags that correlate with your business and follow them first.

• Downplay blatant self-promotion in favor of engagement-based content, such as asking users to share photos based on a certain theme and marked with a hashtag.

• Create an emotional connection through posts about volunteer work or other personal passions.

Fulfillment Warehouse Services for Your Unique Success “Story”

Follow through on your Instagram campaign with impeccable customer service. Let our scalable fulfillment warehouse services provide a seamless customer experience, from ordering through delivery.

Contact us today and learn how Medallion Fulfillment & Logistics can handle your fulfillment warehouse needs, leaving you free for the important business of growing your sales.