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Using AI to improve customer retention with Shanif Dhanani from Apteo

Using AI to improve customer retention with Shanif Dhanani from Apteo

Apteo is a platform which uses AI to automate and personalise marketing campaigns.  We talked to Shanif Dhanani from Apteo to get their tips on how to increase your customer retention and how AI can help.

5 Top things which eCommerce stores should be doing to increase customer retention

  1. Stay in touch with your customers.  Your customer will be lost if you do not stay in touch via email and ads.
  2. Personalise.  70-80% of customers only buy once.  Reaching out to them with relevant offers will increase the conversion rate whilst irrelevant offers will be ignored.
  3. Create a sense of urgency. If you are sending out constant offers, customers will just wait for the next offer to make a purchase.  By sending a limited time offer to targeted customers you will encourage people to appreciate your brand to make repeat purchases.  Free shipping works well with loyal customers.
  4. Tell your story.  To stand out, you should tell your story to give your brand personality.
  5. Cross-sell.  Use your data to create relevant offers cross channel. 

Using AI to help with retention marketing

Running targeted marketing campaigns is time-consuming.  AI tools such as Apteo can help segment your customer data, enabling you to save time and create more personalised campaigns.  Apteo is a Shopify app and integrates directly with the major email tools.  Example uses of AI created custom segments include:

  • Customised campaigns
  • Customer emails
  • Insert dynamic products into emails

Shanif talked to Trevor Ginn from vendlab.com, an eCommerce agency specialising in online marketplaces and e-commerce sales platforms.

How to Automate your Shopify Store with Kaus Manjita from getmason.io

In this week’s podcast, Trevor talked to Kaus from Mason, a Shopify app for automating eCommerce storefronts. We talked about the benefits of automating storefronts and

Benefits of automating a Shopify store?

Competition is fierce and it is hard to stand out and grow online. By automating processes on your online store, you can save time and stand out from the crowd. Areas for automation include

  • Email marketing/CRM
  • Customer loyalty
  • Shipping and fulfilment
  • Customer experience
  • Customer support
  • Order tracking
  • Merchandising

Avoiding the day-to-day processes necessary to run your site allows you to spend more time growing your business.

Automating your Shopify storefront

Whilst automation in email marketing and fulfilment are widely available, few retailers use automation to keep their storefront fresh. Areas which can be automated include:

  • Creating collections, e.g. best sellers, new products
  • Inventory updates
  • Sales and promotions
  • Product bundles, e.g. Creating high converting products into bundles.

Using a solution such as Mason, these processes can be automated, saving time and improving performance.

Example success automations

The Mason team have an off the shelf menu of successful automation which can be quickly implemented. Successful automations include:

  • Creating bespoke collections based on customer behaviour
  • Badges advertising sales and discounts
  • Running promotions and sales

Increasing Cross Border Sales with Andy Hooper from Global eCommerce Experts

International Ecommerce Opportunity

In this week’s episode of the eCommerce Odyssey Podcast, Trevor talked to Andy Hooper from Global eCommerce Experts about all things Cross Border Trade.

The Cross border Opportunity is as big as ever

Brexit and the general economic condition have made international trade more difficult.  However, merchants should not give up on international sales! The opportunity is still massive.

  • 500 million consumers in the EU
  • Many retailers have pulled out of the EU
  • EU and UK regulations are still very similar

Basic steps to selling internationally

Recommended steps for starting your international sales:

  1. Research your market.  Research if your product can be sold from a compliance point of view and if there is likely to be any demand
  2. Compliance.  Make sure your business and product are compliant with local rules and make any necessary changes.
  3. Marketplace strategy.  Choose the right route to market for your products

Logistics

The logistics solution you use is determined by the size of your business.  Bear the following in mind:

  • Shipping pallet into Amazon EU FBA is time-consuming
  • Sending items into a 3PL in the EU and then sending parcels into FBA s quicker and enables orders to be fulfilled directly

Best channels for expanding internationally

When expanding internationally, first look at where you are already successfully selling.  If you are on Amazon already expanding into their international sites is a great place to start.  That said, Amazon is not the biggest platform in many countries.  For example:

  • Bol.com is the biggest marketplace in the Netherlands
  • Cdiscount is a big player in France
  • Allegro is the biggest online retailer in Poland

Start with what you know and then look for other opportunities.

Top ten tips for selling internationally

  1. Understand your market and country.  Good tools include Jungle Scout and Helium 10.
  2. Make sure your product is compliant with the country you are selling into
  3. Make sure your business is compliant with the country you are selling into
  4. Identify the right marketplace to sell-through
  5. Find a local fulfilment partner (3PL) for delivering stock to Amazon (and other platforms) and dealing with returns
  6. Have a solid shipping and customs process
  7. Customer service. Ensure you can cope with customer service in local languages
  8. Think about how you will scale your sales and build a multi-channel approach

How to use Shipping Updates to Increase Repeat Purchases on Shopify

In this week’s eCommerce Odyssey Podcast I talked to Kiril Kirilov cofounder of rush.app about how they improve delivery communication on Shopify. Rush is an app that is deeply integrated with over 400 couriers with the aim of closing the loop between ordering and delivery. Not only do they help improve customer service, but they also enable merchants to use communications to drive customers back to a store and repeat purchases.

Kiril had the following advice for optimising shipping comms on Shopify

Communication with customers as often as possible

By sending out updates at every stage of the delivery process has major benefits for retailers:

  • Increase customer satisfaction by keeping them in the loop
  • Cut down on customer service queries

Use updates to drive repeat custom

Every time you send out a delivery update to a customer, the customer is encouraged to come back to the site where they can be upsold.

Wow consumers with great service

Get the basics right to impress with your delivery

  • Shipping speed.  Deliver items before people start to wonder where they are
  • Be in stock.  Ensure you have stock available for quick delivery

Shopify Usability with Adam Pearce from Blend Commerce

Adam Pearce works for the leading Shopify usability agency Blendcommerce.  Having just launched our own Shopify storefront, in this week’s eCommerce odyssey Podcast, Trevor took the opportunity to pick Adam’s brains on maximising the conversion rate of Shopify storefronts. Some key take aways are below:

Put all relevant information on product pages

Given that most people won’t read information pages (e.g. delivery, returns etc), all the relevant information should be on the product page.  Adam recommends reiterating the message under the buy button.

Blendcommerce client sites that do this well are the Aquarium Coop and Goat Milk Stuff.

  • Summary bullets (our previous UX person recommended these)
  • Messaging about button
  • Learn more about this product – link to blog posts
  • Loads of customer reviews

On Website page speed

How fast should a Shopify site be?  Adam’s recommendations are:

  • 2.7 seconds is the min standard
  • Track the performance of main pages e.g. homepage, product page, category pages
  • Use one tool consistently for measurements.  That way you will get a relative measure of performance
  • Remove any necessary apps as these slow down the system
  • Optimise images

Think about customer flow

Consider what messages customers will get during the purchasing process.  For example:

  • Emails What messages will they get during the order flow e.g. review emails
  • Delivery.  How can we better meet delivery promises – especially internationally
  • One site messaging – how can your direct customers to the right products

Offer multiple payment options

How many payment options should a store offer. Offering multiple payment options enables the customer to checkout in the way they like so the more the merrier (within reason).

Offering PayPal alongside card payment is recommended as online wallets give the customer a feeling of security.  This is particularly the case for international deliveries

How to optimise your eCommerce Pricing with Burc Tanir from Prisync

In this edition of the eCommerce Odyssey Podcast, we discuss dynamic pricing with Burc Tanir from Prisync. Prisync is a competitive price monitoring and repricing tool which enables customers to increase sales and profit by altering pricing in real-time based on market conditions.

Key takes aways:

Automate your Pricing

Tracking price manually is very time consuming and the market changes so quickly you will never keep up. By using an automated tracking solution, you will same time and be more competitive.

Treat channels separately

Each channel (e.g. Google Shopping, Amazon, eBay) has its own competitive landscape, so only compare prices within a channel. On channels that aggregate prices (e.g. google shopping), be careful not to compete against yourself if pricing automatically

Pricing is critical

Many surveys have shown that price is the most crucial factor when purchasing online. The way that results on Google, Amazon et al. are presented means a customer has to actively look for more expensive offers as the cheaps generally come top.

Repricing can make you more money

It is not a simple race to the bottom. On Pricsync, 60% of price changes are upwards. For many retailers, there is an opportunity to increase prices and make more money.

Don’t reprice against everyone

Find your sweet spot by choosing a small number of retailers to reprice against. 

Repricing helps with ROAS

Customers will check multiple retailers before purchasing. Being more price-competitive will improve conversion rate, reducing the sale cost on platforms such as Google shopping.

Be transparent on pricing

Being transparent on pricing increases the conversion rate. Free shipping is popular with customers.

Understanding Amazon FBA Fees

There are several different fees to consider when sending FBA stock:

  • Fulfilment fees.  A fulfilment fee is changed on each order based on the item size
  • Storage fees.  A monthly storage fee is charged based on the actual storage used
  • Optional fees.  These are fees for optional extras such as labelling,

Fulfilment fees

FBA fulfilment fees are based on an item’s size and are banded. The prices are set out on a rate card which can be found here for the EU and UK.  The size of an item is set when the product is originally onboarded into FBA.  It can only be changed by contacting Amazon customer service. 

Items are divided into three broad categories

  • Small and light. FBA Small and Light is an Amazon fulfilment solution for your fast-moving, small, light-weight products priced £9 or €10 or less (including VAT). This Programme offers lower fulfilment fees versus standard FBA fulfilment fees on comparable products when shipped locally
  • Standard. 
  • Oversized.  Larger items which incur a higher fulfilment fee

Storage fees

Storage fees are changed by the cubic foot/month (UK) or m2/month (EU) based on the volume actually stored.  This varies slightly by category and also the time of year with Q4 being more expensive.

After an item has been in storage for over 365 days, storage will be charged at a punitive rate. This is known as the Long Term Storage fee.  Merchants can avoid this by electing to have item returned to them before the fee kicks in.

Optional fees

Amazon FBA offers a number of additional services, some of which are optional.  Merchants must pay to have item returned or disposed on.  On the other hand they have the option to prepare their own items of let Amazon do it for them.

  • Returns.  There is a cost per item for product to be returned
  • Disposal.  Instead of return items, merchants can chose for them to be
  • Labelling.  Some items need to have a different Amazon specific barcode to be accepted into an Amazon fulfilment centre.  In this case either the merchant must over-label the barcode or Amazon can do it as a additional service
  • Product preparation. Amazon requires products to properly packaged e.g. any products with open packaging must be bagged.

Creating Amazon FBA listings (or convert FBM to FBA)

There are several options for creating FBA items. This post looks at how to convert FBM to FBA and also how to create new products as FBA listings.

Converting items form FBM to FBA – Manually

FBM items can be converted to FBA listings one at a time via the Manage inventory screen. The process is as follows:

  • Select a product and select convert to FBA from the menu on the top LHS
  • Select whether you want this product to use the manufacturer barcode or an Amazon barcode
  • Fill in the Hazmat information (Hazardous materials + batteries)

And you are done!  After a few minutes your product will appear in your FBA inventory

Converting item form FBM to FBA – Bulk

If converting product in bulk this can be done by the inventory loader file. 

  • Download the inventory File from Inventory > Add product via Upload and download the inventory loader from inventory files at the bottom of the page
  • The FBA specific fields are the
    • fulfillment-center-id.  (Column M)
    • Field relating to batteries (Q to AD)
    • Fields relating to Hazmat (AE to AK)

Refer to the data definitions detail in the inventory upload file for the valid values for this file.  If you

Creating new FBA items

The process of creating FBA listings is basically the same as FBM products, except there are additional FBA field to complete.  These fields are:

  • Fulfilment centre ID
  • Packaging dimensions
  • Packaged weight
  • Details of product batteries
  • Hazmat details

Understanding FBA Settings

Before sending up your FBA inventory for the the first time there are a number of setting which must be specified in Settings > Fulfilment by Amazon.

Cross border fulfilment settings. 

Pan European FBA is a programme where listings can be delivered across Europe at the delivery rate of the ordering country.  To qualify a listing must have a listing in each of the EU4 (FR, DE, IT, ES) and Enable multi-country inventory storage.

Labelling service. 

To be accepted into Amazon warehouses, some product must have a new Amazon specific barcode affixed (Amazon Barcode). Choose whether to allow Amazon to apply new barcodes where they are necessary.  This incurs a fee per label.

Inbound settings

Choose what warning to see when sending up FBA inventory.  Some product may be fine to sell on Amazon but can’t be sent to FBA. 

Removal/Furbishing settings. 

Enabling Furblishing allows Amazon to inspect items and put them back into inventory if possible

Removal settings specific what to do with unfulfillable items (e.g. return or destroy)

Barcode preference. 

Chose to use the manufacturer’s barcode or a new barcode for each product.  If the manufacturer’s barcode is used then Amazon will use this identify items and these can be commingled with the exact same products from other sellers who also use Manufacturer barcodes for those items.  That is to say if you make a sale of a product then that same product as supplied by another seller may be sent.

This is usually fine, but some unscrupulous sellers have been known to send up fakes.

Selecting to use Amazon barcodes means that your product will be sent to fulfil your orders, but items must be individually re-barcoded using codes specified by Amazon.

More details can be found here: https://sellercentral.amazon.co.uk/gp/help/help.html?itemID=G200141480&language=en_GB

Customer support. 

Specify whether to allow Amazon to manage customer service for your orders

Shipping programmes and export settings  

Chose whether to allow overseas customers to purchase your FBA products.

Benefits of Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA)

FBA is in many ways a brilliant service, as can be seen by its enormous popularity.  Benefits include:

Easy

Amazon does most of the work including customer service and delivery and you have the benefit of selling to Amazon’s enormous customer base.

Pay as you go fulfilment service with no contract or minimum fees

Most fulfilment houses will make merchants sign up to a long term contract and will need to pay for a certain amount of storage space.  They may also need to pay for incoming deliveries.  Amazon does not require any of this

FBA offers have preferential buy box treatment

Amazon gives Prime eligible order which are fulfilled by Amazon a better change of getting the buy box, increase sales potential

FBA offers are Prime eligible

FBA order are eligible for Prime, Amazon wildly popular subscription service.

FBA orders can be delivered throughout the EU from the same inventory

FBA inventory in the EU can be delivered as Prime eligible offers from the same inventory pool.

FBA is available in most Amazon countries

FBA is available in most of the countries which Amazon operates in.  The system is the same in each country and so this can be a convenient way to expand internationally.