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Stamps.com Blog

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Why Customer Service is So Important for Your Ecommerce Business

December 2nd, 2016 Comments off

stamps_customer-care

Take care of your shoppers and if you do it well, your shoppers will take care of you. How? Prompt and thoughtful customer service, regardless of the issue at hand, can mean the difference between a one-time buyer and a loyal repeat customer. Recent figures indicate that 82 percent of clients stop doing business with a company solely due to bad customer service, and 85 percent would pay more to ensure a better customer experience!

Clearly, shoppers are looking for more than great products—they want interactions with your store to be just as satisfying. What can you do to provide outstanding customer care? Here are a few ideas.

Honor every customer with a response

There can be no stupid questions if you want your products to sell and your store to thrive. Acknowledge all questions, complaints and compliments, even if it’s just a quick, “I’m working on getting a better answer for you right now” or “Thanks for taking the time to let us know!” 

Consider the pros and cons of a multichannel support

Different methods of customer contact may work better for your shop than others. For example, email is usually less time-consuming, while phone calls can feel more personal but may require extra manpower to keep up with demand. A dedicated call center system may relieve shop owners of this task but can lack the personal touch you’ve established for your business. Live chat and social media bring more tiers to the equation. Which can you and your team best keep up with? What works with your customer-service budget? See what your own favorite stores are doing, and listen to and log customer feedback on this issue to help you make the best choices. 

Make sure your entire team is on the same page in terms of customer service

If you have help in responding to customers, whether you have dedicated staff or use an outside vendor, establish ground rules about language, policies and approaches. 

Respect customers’ time

Often, customers will contact you for the same reason or with similar questions. Posting short videos on your site – for example, how to assemble a product or troubleshoot a known issue – makes it easy for customers to find answers on their own, and lets you focus on other business matters. Similarly, an effective FAQ page can prevent unnecessary calls as well as provide a handy place for referrals. 

Make social media work for you

If you haven’t already established dedicated business accounts on your preferred social media platforms, do it now. Your presence on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest can help connect you to customers. Be sure to post regularly and find ways to engage your followers in conversation, such as asking for product ideas or offering coupons. Do you shy away from negative feedback on social media? Turn that habit around now, because not responding is a turnoff for 88 percent of customers! Potential new customers might look at a company’s social media account to see how responsive the company is to customer support issues. 

Be positive about the negatives

The feedback that’s hardest to hear can be the most useful for your business. If your store hasn’t lived up to a customer’s expectations, take note of the problems and make changes immediately. If you follow up with the dissatisfied customer once the change is in place, you may have an opportunity to win back his or her business. 

Measure your customer service success

Keep detailed records of customer contact, response time, and resolution rates (how many calls or emails it took to resolve an issue). This data will help steer you toward the most effective ways to keep up a strong customer service program.

Best practices for shipping toys and holiday gifts

November 28th, 2016 Comments off

Stamps.com Blog Shipping ToysKids of all ages are busy writing their letters to Santa asking for all sorts of fun and playful gifts. Whether you are a toymaker, sell toys on your ecommerce site, or just plan to ship a gift to a loved one, Stamps.com can offer some advice! 

Stuffed Toys 
Stuffed animals and plush toys are meant to be lovingly squeezed, not squashed during transit. The best way to guarantee a great impression and the safe delivery of your stuffed toy is to ship the product in a box. However, for added protection and to prevent damage to a teddy bear’s plastic or glass eye, for example, you may also want to wrap the stuffed animal in transparent sealed bags, packing paper or bubble wrap. Remember that your recipient may open the box with a sharp cutter or a pair of scissors, so the best way to prevent damage to the stuffed animal is to use a box with some extra space for cushioning material. If you use a sealed bag or shrink wrap, clearly mark it with a suffocation warning label.

Action Figures and Boxed Collectibles
Some toys, such as action figures and collectibles, will already have packaging of their own. We recommend placing this package within a slightly larger box when shipping. Fill the empty spaces between the shipping container and the packaged toy with plenty of padding and peanuts. If you’re sending vintage or fragile toys, we recommend marking the package “Fragile” to prevent breakage. If the original packaging of the toy is vintage itself, collectors may be upset if there is any damage to the box’s corners, so you may want to wrap the original packaging in clear plastic.

Battery-operated Toys
Sending a remote-control car or robot? Keep in mind that restrictions exist for shipping lithium cells and batteries. For domestic mail, batteries cannot contain more than 1 gram of lithium content per cell and your package must have a complete delivery and return address. Restrictions vary depending on whether the lithium batteries are installed in the equipment, mailed with the equipment, or mailed without the equipment. For international mail, items may be prohibited by the destination country.  Check out USPS battery restrictions here. 

International Restrictions 
Remember that, if you’re shipping internationally, restrictions can exist regarding toys. These vary by country. For example, non-wood toys cannot be sent to Italy, toy guns cannot be sent to the United Kingdom, and children’s toys operated by steam or electricity cannot be sent to Indonesia in commercial shipments. Learn more about international shipping restrictions by country here.

Using Stamps.com to Ship Toys 
Reduce stress for your recipients by using our Shipment Notification feature. When you check the “Email Recipient” box on the Packages, International or Batch sections, the Stamps.com software sends an email to the package recipient indicating that the package has been sent. Under our “Packages” section, you can select one of our “Shipping Label” options. You can easily print a trackable label on plain paper or on one of our self-adhesive labels, such as the 4 1/4″ x 6 3/4″ shipping labels. With Stamps.com, you can print barcoded shipping labels for Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes (order your free USPS supplies at the Stamps.com Store!) and receive the discounted Commercial Base rate. If you want to use your own box, just select “Package/Thick Envelope” as your mailpiece and print out a barcoded shipping label. You’ll still receive the discounted Commercial Base rate! With Stamps.com, you can send First Class Packages with barcoded Shipping Labels as long as your package does not exceed 15.99 ounces. Otherwise, you can use Priority Mail, or if you need packages sent at the speed of a magic reindeer, Priority Mail Express. Remember that toys cannot be sent by Media Mail.

How to Provide Free Shipping This Cyber Monday

November 18th, 2016 Comments off

Stamps.com Blog Free Shipping

We are big fans of free shipping. Who wouldn’t be? Customers rave about it and it makes conversion easier for sellers. What’s not to love about that? So, imagine our surprise when we learned that offering free shipping during the biggest ecommerce holiday of the year does not significantly impact sales.

ecomdash Free ShippingThe numbers don’t lie. Customers appear generally more willing to pay for shipping on Cyber Monday than normal. But this contradicts traditional knowledge about the positive impact of offering free shipping on ecommerce sales. As business owners, you have a decision to make. Should you use this customer data to remove free shipping and increase your revenue on Cyber Monday? Some people would be extremely uncomfortable doing so, while others would just look at it as a smart business decision.

Luckily, there’s a third option. You can still offer free shipping, but make your customers to earn it. This allows you to maximize revenue from customers who don’t mind paying for shipping on Cyber Monday without punishing your returning customers who are used to receiving free shipping. Here are a few of the ways you can get your customers to earn free shipping on Cyber Monday.

Spend X Amount

This is one of the most common ways that online retailers chose to offer free shipping. Rather than giving every order free shipping, they incentive customers to spend more money to earn it. It’s a simple tradeoff that has been statistically proven to increase both sales and revenue.

Kissmetrics found that presenting a minimum threshold for free shipping on an ecommerce site increased conversion by 26 percent. Average order value increased by 5 percent. The most important part of the process is calculating what the minimum order value needs to be. Pro ecommerce sellers use the formula below to make sure they are getting the most bang for their buck on free shipping.

ecomdash MOV

Create an Account

There are tons of great guides for ecommerce email marketing that will increase your retention and strengthen your connection with your customers, but you can’t even begin email marketing if you don’t capture email addresses. Cyber Monday is likely to be your highest selling day of the year, and if you let it pass by without collecting as many emails as possible, you’ve lost a ton of momentum that you won’t be able to easily get back.

Having customers create an account to receive free shipping is a great way to get the most out of the Cyber Monday mob. Depending on the information you request when they create the account, you can also segment your email marketing based on their gender, age, and interests, ensuring that your marketing hours are being spent in the most effective way.

Add an Item

This method is especially effective if you have items in your store that aren’t moving as fast as other items. Allow your customers to bundle a related accessory with their purchase to earn the free shipping. You get a higher order value and clear up more inventory space. The customer in turn feels as if they’re getting more out of their order, and a discount on shipping.

The item you choose to bundle should be something that a customer would need to go with their new purchase. If you’re selling guitars, your add-on item could be guitar strings or picks. If you’re selling makeup, you can bundle compact mirrors. This makes you look like you care about the buyer beyond their initial purchase.

Share Purchase on Social Media

There are tons of benefits to creating and maintaining a community of your customers on social media.

– Gives you an opportunity to humanize your brand
– Centralizes customer reviews that help new buyers convert
– Raises search engine ranking by adding to your link network
– Allows your customers a location to gather and form a culture surrounding your brand
– Provides a simple venue for quick customer feedback

That’s all easier said than done. Building a social media audience is not simple. One way to kick-start it is to incentivize your customers to share your brand on social media by offering them free shipping in exchange for hitting the share button. It supercharges your social presence by demonstrating that customers excited about your products. Not only have your customers showed off your brand to all their followers, but you now have access to your customers’ accounts.

Final Thoughts

The benefits of offering free shipping can’t be ignored. It keeps customers happy and increases conversion rates. But we also can’t ignore the raw data and revenue opportunities provided to us by Cyber Monday. This is one case where you can truly have your cake and eat it too. However you choose to allow customers to earn free shipping during the ecommerce holiday, make sure that it gives you key assets such as emails or an increased social presence. This allows you to capture momentum from the selling season and carry it with you into 2017. Harness your success and build upon it for the future. Now that’s an incentive we all want to earn.

Dion BearyAbout the author: Dion Beary writes about ecommerce for ecomdash, an ecommerce automation software system. He has more pairs of Chuck Taylors than any one person needs.

 

How to Create a Social Media Strategy

November 14th, 2016 Comments off

SDC_Blog_Social Media PlanSocial media is a great way to build your brand and develop a relationship with your customers. Still, while many ecommerce businesses have already established a social media presence, devising a plan for your posts leverages the power of social media even more.

Here’s some information about creating and implementing an effective social media plan for your ecommerce business.

Be choosy. While it’s tempting to jump on every social media platform, be realistic about how much you or your team can keep up with. Consider too how well your business translates to the different platforms. Sometimes, a service-oriented business can skip photo-dependent sites like Instagram. If your audience skews older, that demographic is more likely to check Facebook than Snapchat. 

Be easy to find. When you create social media accounts, choose usernames that match your business name as closely as possible, and try to keep them consistent across all of your social media platforms. Include as much information about your business in your profile as possible, as this indexable content can help search engines direct interested parties to not only your social media accounts but your business website as well. Once you’ve established the accounts, be sure to add your handles to your email communication, signage, stationery and other methods you use to make your business visible.

Be organized. Develop an editorial calendar to help you build out timely and newsworthy content. Creating compelling social content can be challenging, and utilizing a calendar can help a company focus on current topics and trends.

Build your following. Put thought into your content, and followers will pay attention when what you post is original and shareable. Don’t shy away from engaging well-known bloggers, influencers and media outlets. One great way to do this is to respond with useful information when users ask a question on one of your social media channels. Offering discounts to customers is another method to consider in order to grow your following.

Be responsive. Social media is worthless unless you’re ready to have conversations with your followers. Post regularly, be prompt when answering questions and concerns, and follow any interested parties yourself. Keep your content fresh and consistent so followers have a reason to check in frequently.

Be yourself. Social media gives you an opportunity to infuse your personality into your business. Consider sharing the story behind your business, interesting links you’ve found and inspiring words with your followers. You might also want to consider sharing any challenges you faced when starting your business—chances are, other businesses will encounter the same challenges and can benefit from your experience and insight.

Be innovative. Social media gives small-business owners unique opportunities to try out new products, programs and communications. Offer your followers the first look at a new item in your shop, a discount on the first shipment or the chance to sound in about their opinions. Once your promotion or experiment is over, track the kind of response you got and add the results to your social media plan.

What you need to know about discounted military USPS shipping

November 4th, 2016 Comments off

SDC Blog Military Mail Discount1Here’s something to keep in mind as we approach the busy holiday season—did you know you can receive a $2 discount off the flat rate of a Priority Mail Large Flat Rate Box? As a Stamps.com customer you already receive the discounted Commercial Base rate of $16.35 for the Priority Mail Large Flat Rate Box (it costs $16.75 at the Post Office) if you use a barcoded shipping label. You can get an even deeper discount when shipping to military (APO/FPO/DPO) addresses! This discount can be activated whether you’re sending mail to a military post, a U.S. Navy vessel, or a U.S. embassy.  

How does it work?
In the Stamps.com software, enter an APO address in the domestic packages section.  If it’s a valid APO/FPO/DPO address, this will automatically activate the Priority Mail Military Large Flat Rate Box discount and you’ll see the price drop to $14.35!

Selecting the right label
Please note: you only have the ability to receive the discount on barcoded shipping labels. This means that you should use printing supplies in the Packages section like the Standard 4 x 6 Plain Paper option, the SDC-1200 label, a Generic 4 x 6 Shipping Label, or the Narrow 2 x 7 ½ Shipping Label.

The APO/FPO/DPO Large Flat Rate Box  
If you’re sending mail at this discounted rate, you can use the specialized Priority Mail APO/FPO Large Flat Rate Box, which features an “America Supports You” logo and APO/FPO addressing block, can be ordered for free from the Stamps.com Online Store.

Additional resources
If you are shipping to military addresses during the holidays, you’ll want to take a look at these USPS shipping cutoffs. Need some tips on how to format an APO/FPO/DPO address? You can also download our FREE USPS Military Mail Guide for more helpful pointers. This guide provides step-by-step details on how to ship a package to a military address.

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