Order fulfillment is a critical part of the ecommerce customer experience. As ecommerce operators, we need to ensure that our customers are taken care of even when the merchandise lands in their hands.
Here are six examples of extra services to offer customers when you ship their orders.
Invest in Special Boxes or Packaging
Having a special box for your store is a good way to stand out, and also help with branding. It can make a strong impression on your customers.
Take Little Black Bag, for example, a Los Angeles-based seller of female handbags and accessories. This subscription-based e-tailer ships items in a branded box and it even has special packing slips to enhance the customers’ shopping experiences.
Give Customers Free Samples
Do you have a new product and want your customers to experience it? Include samples in their next shipment. It’s a great way to surprise your customers. Some could even end up buying the product after they try it. To increase the chances of converting customers, however, provide the samples only with complementary products.
For example, last year I bought a cell phone clutch on Amazon and I was pleased to learn that the seller included a free phone charm with every shipment. When the product arrived, the charm looked even better in person. I wanted to use it. Thereafter, whenever I need a new phone accessory, I make sure to check with this seller first.
Additionally, when people asked me about the charm attached to my phone, I always referred them to that particular seller on Amazon.
Throwing in a little extra in your shipments can go a long way both in customer retention and word of mouth referrals.
For Unhappy Customers, Ship Something Extra
Did a customer have an unpleasant experience with your company? Turn that experience around when you ship his items. Upgrade the shipping method or throw in a free sample.
I helped fund iLIDmk-1, a thin iPhone wallet, on Kickstarter a couple of years ago. While the project was funded successfully, there was a delay with the shipment of the product to customers, including me.
But the company did make it up to me. When my package finally arrived, I was pleasantly surprised to see two iPhone cases instead of just the one that I ordered, together with a note apologizing for the delay. I appreciated the gesture. It made me feel better about the company.
Do you have extra space in your shipments? Make the most of it by including some flyers or brochures — as long as it doesn’t increase shipping costs. Doing so gives you a chance to cross-sell other products or services.
Personalize the customer experience by adding flyers that showcase items related to the ones that the customers purchased.
Alternatively, you can tailor the flyers based on the season or time of year. For instance, if your annual holiday sale is coming up, then advertise it on flyers during the months leading up to it.
Add a Personalized Note
A personalized, hand-written note is a nice touch that will make you more memorable to the customer. If you have spoken to the customer, then reference your previous conversations in the note. For instance, did you assist her in choosing a product? Mention that in your message. Is she a returning customer? Tell her how happy you are to have such loyal patrons.
Offer Personalized Shipping Deals
Consumers love free shipping. It’s an effective incentive that can drive conversions and keep your best customers coming back.
This isn’t to say, however, that you should offer free shipping to every customer. Examine customer profiles to see which ones would be worth sending a shipping coupon to. Only select those who shop regularly. Those customers would appreciate it the most, and they would be the ones who would actually use it.
It doesn’t have to be free shipping every time. If you can’t waive shipping costs altogether, why not offer a discount? Give customers a complimentary upgrade from 2-day shipping to overnight or something similar.
Personalizing order fulfillment can take time and money. But it can pay off when executed correctly. If you’re on a limited budget, test out these strategies on a small group of customers and see how they work.
Not all personalization strategies are right for every customer. For instance, it wouldn’t make sense to offer free or reduced shipping to customers who spend less than $10 per order or only purchase items occasionally.
It’s also best to segment customers by how active they are, how much they spend, or when their last purchase was. Importantly, apply the personalization methods only if it makes sense for your customers and your business.