Michelle McNamara is a content creator and strategist for Shippo, a multi-carrier shipping web app and API for e-commerce businesses, platforms, and marketplaces. Shippo’s mission is to help businesses succeed through shipping. You can read more of Michelle’s shipping tips on the Shippo blog.
When you decide to create an ecommerce store, an important question to ask yourself is: how will I compete with the established players in my industry?
One way to win over customers is through a personalized and engaging customer experience. Niche businesses tend to have deeper, one-on-one relationships with customers because their products are often personalized already. You can use this to your advantage to drive sales and repeat customers.
Here are four strategies for niche online retailers to create a more personalized customer experience.
Get smarter about managing shipping costs
It’s important to make sure you’re using affordable shipping options to meet your bottom line. Free shipping is critical to the user experience, so look for ways to offer it. This may include implementing a free shipping threshold or a limited-time free shipping promotion. If you haven’t already, review the current 2018 shipping rate charts to make sure you understand the prices beforehand.
Also, review your monthly invoices or archives to determine the most popular packages and routes. Spend extra time on these documents to see if there are any opportunities to save money—either by optimizing your packaging or comparing with other shipping services.
Add a personal touch to order and shipping confirmation emails
Shipping confirmation emails are clicked 1.5 times on average. Take advantage of this engagement by creating a personalized experience for the customer. This can include links to other products they might like or fun ways to engage with the brand.
One way to further the brand experience is through loyalty programs, since click-to-open rates are 16 percent higher for confirmation emails with invitations to join loyalty programs.
Engage customers during the delivery experience
Consumers expect great customer service. Over half of online shoppers said they would be somewhat or much more likely to purchase from a retailer again if their package came with a free giveaway.
One of our customers VNYL, a curated vinyl record subscription company, created a unique experience for its subscribers. Since the records are a surprise each month, VNYL keeps the contents of its package a secret until the day of delivery, offering tracking without package information. At that time of delivery, Shippo’s webhooks trigger VNYL to automatically upload the same music to a customer’s Spotify playlist as an added bonus, so customers feel like they’re getting something special.
Encourage customers to be social
Niche ecommerce businesses are perfectly suited to take advantage of social media. Consumers tend to follow small business brands on Instagram because they have unique products that lend themselves to sharing and posting pictures. Plus, it feels like there’s a real human behind the brand.
Encourage social posting from customers by developing an unboxing campaign, and ask customers to participate. Make sure that your packaging is worth unboxing, which means you need to use pretty, branded materials. This also adds to your brand perception since 40 percent of online shoppers said they would be somewhat or much more likely to purchase from a retailer that offers premium packaging.
It’s important for niche businesses to offer consumers an engaging ecommerce experience. Smart retailers will use their shipping strategy to build deeper relationships with customers well after checkout.