- Let’s Chat D2C: Ecommerce Returns during the Holiday Season.
- What I’m Thinking about this Week: How a Brand Acquired me as a Customer Indirectly on Goody’s Gifting Marketplace, The Importance of Marketplaces, and Visual Search Engines.
- The D2Z Podcast: I sat down with my good friend and fellow Miami resident Emilio Di Marco to chat about scaling SaaS startups and more!
- App Highlight: Loop Returns and a New Octane.ai Integration with Attentive.
- Book of the Week - Of Mice and Men: A classic story about the American Dream.
Random tip: Success is not linear!
Let's Chat D2C: Ecommerce Returns During the Holiday Season
Due to the nature of the holiday season and gift-giving, ecommerce returns can increase pretty significantly. As a DTC brand, you need to have a plan to handle the uptick in returns.
Communicate your Return Policy
If you don’t have a return policy, that’s step #1! Once you have that in place, make sure your return policy is simple to locate and understand. Considering putting it in the following areas on your site:
- A standalone page you link to in the footer
- On the product page
- In the checkout process
- In your transactional emails
- On your order confirmation page
Not only will customers feel more secure during the purchasing process, but communicating how to return and exchange products clearly will reduce the number of tickets your customer service team has to handle.
Make it Easy
Your customers are busy, make their returns and exchange process seamless. Allow for scheduled pickup returns as well as drop at location. And if you have brick n’ mortar locations, allow in-store returns.
Make it Free
Nothing is more annoying as a customer than having to pay for shipping returns and exchanges. There are a few use cases where it might make sense, but most DTC brands should bake this into their cost. I’m still thoroughly annoyed at the apparel company that charged me $7.99 to exchange a few sizes of clothing after ordering over $700 of stuff from them during BFCM.
Staff your CS Team
Even though you communicate your return policy throughout the customer journey, customers will still reach out with inquiries and questions. Make sure you have an autoresponder set up that confirms with the customer that you have received their question, and ensure you can respond within 24 hours at the MAX.
Leverage Software & Automate the Returns Process
Automating the returns process will ease the burden on your customer service team while also allowing you to try and proactively turn returns into exchanges or upsells. Loop is one of our favorite returns apps, and I will highlight its features more extensively later in this newsletter.
Pro-tip: Extend your return deadline to 60 days or more to allow BFCM purchases to be gifted on Christmas and returned or exchanged. This will not only create a better customer experience, but if you communicate this extension on your site, it will increase your conversion rate.
What I’m Thinking About This Week: How a Brand Acquired me as a Customer Indirectly on Goody’s Gifting Marketplace, The Importance of Marketplaces, and Visual Search Engines
Goody Gift Platform
If you work in the ecommerce industry, there’s a 99% chance you received a gift from someone via the Goody platform. When it comes to shopping, I am incredibly indecisive, so I ended up browsing through most of the options that Goody presented to me from which I could choose my gift.
Even though I could only choose one, I discovered a TON of really cool brands that I went directly to their site to purchase as gifts for others or myself.
This got me thinking about how some initiatives you take as a brand have positive yet unintended consequences. The primary objective of listing your brand on Goody’s gifting marketplace is to drive sales. However, by listing your brand on the market, you’re getting thousands, if not tens of thousands, of new eyeballs on your products. Even though the gift recipient might not choose your product, this channel is a valuable source of impressions and awareness. And in the case of a couple of the brands I discovered, it ended in me making a direct purchase from their Shopify store, which actually is more advantageous to the brand from a margin standpoint since Goody isn’t charging them a fee on the sale!
My experience with Goody led me to think about how most marketplaces are a must for brands to be listed. So, here are the top 5 online marketplaces in the US:
As a growing DTC brand, it’s essential to have a marketplace strategy in place to ensure you can take advantage of the awareness and credibility these platforms provide.
Thinking about marketplaces led me to the last thing I’m thinking about this week: visual search. More and more retailers are creating and deploying visual search tools to make buying easier.
What is Visual Search?
A visual search “engine” is software designed to search for information through the input of an image. An example of this is if you are at a restaurant and like the chandelier. A visual search tool for ecommerce would match a picture of the chandelier with the exact product, or a similar one, for you to purchase.
Retailers using Visual Search to Drive Sales
Walmart launched a new visual search tool, TrendGetter, just a few weeks ago. It uses AI to identify and match items in photos with products SOLD BY WALMART. So, even if the product the user likes doesn’t come from Walmart, the recommendation TrendGetter provides will be from Walmart. Genius, right?
Expect more visual search tools in the market soon - companies like Etsy, Pinterest, and Google have already released their own. And next time, instead of asking someone where they got that outfit, you can just take a picture of them (maybe don’t do this).
This Week's The D2Z Podcast
#40 – Ecommerce Communication Solutions for Small Brands, Providing Solutions to Paint Points, and Scaling for Start-ups
🎧Listen Now 🎧
In this week’s episode, I sat down with Emilio Di Marco, Founder of Aument, an ecommerce toolbox built for SMBs. Specifically, we explored the following:
💰 The importance of customer education in SaaS to ensure maximum ROI
📲 Simplifying communications tools for small brands and solo founders
😎 Balancing your internal roadmap and objectives with customer feedback
🚀 The urgency for start-ups to let go of perfectionism and get a product to market
App Highlight - Loop Returns & New Octane.ai Integration
Building off of the earlier section in the newsletter on returns, I wanted to highlight one of our favorite apps at Electriq, Loop.
❓What is It: A return app that incentivizes exchanges & upsells over refunds
🏅Differentiator: Loop will decrease your refunds by providing a personalized customer return experience that automates variant exchanges while influencing customers to exchange for higher-priced items on your Shopify store instead of choosing a refund.
💰Starting Price: $163/month
🚀How we use it: We implement Loop with our brands to empower their customers to easily exchange an item, increasing customer retention, driving upsells (from customers exchanging for higher-priced items), and decreasing refunds.
Octane.ai New Attentive Integration
Finally! We can now use Octane AI quizzes to collect phone numbers and automatically sync them, as well as all of the quiz answers (hello, more zero-party data!), to an Attentive SMS account.
We’re leveraging this integration to:
- Grow our SMS marketing list
- Segment SMS subscribers based on quiz data
- Automatically text customers personalized messages after taking the quiz
Our standard customer journey is as follows:
- The customer takes the quiz and enters their phone number
- Entered into an Attentive journey where we send them a personalized text message with a link to their quiz results
Book of the Week - Of Mice and Men
A classic about the American Dream and two men named Lennie and George who want to own their own farm. It’s an allegory for people who dream and have plans.
While dreams and plans are good, it’s human nature to continue to create them even after the initial goal has been achieved. It’s less about reaching the American Dream and more about the journey and striving toward it.
I’m speaking at EEE Miami on February 23rd at the East Hotel! Ecommerce Experience Evolution is an annual event in Miami gathering leaders in the Ecommerce space to connect, share knowledge, and learn!
Let me know what you want me to present by replying to this email :)
Right now, I’m leaning toward an hour-long deep dive into what a best-in-class retention program looks like for a Shopify store.
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