Direct-to-Customer Commerce

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Strategic insights into the direct commerce industry, including ecommerce, direct marketing and related fields

After all is said and done, it’s still about what you sell

I’m a fan of Kevin Hillstrom’s blog:  MineThatData.  He posted yesterday about the impact of social media on sales, profits and stock prices, and specifically compared HP, Dell and Apple.  The post was entitled, Dell, HP and Apple:  It’s the Merchandise.

In summary,

  • HP has lackluster products, declining sales, declining stock price and no social media presence.
  • Dell has a spectacular social media presence, uninspiring products, pretty flat sales, and less dramatic, but still declining stock price.
  • Apple has products that continue in high demand, growing sales, skyrocketing stock price (even though it’s down over the very short term), and absolutely no social media presence.

Hillstrom concludes that superior products that customers demand still does more to drive business success than most marketing, and certainly more than social media.

Another relevant consideration to keep in mind, as you budget and strategize about your marketing efforts.

Filed under: Direct Commerce, Ideas, , , , , , , , ,

Defining and Measuring Good Customer Service

One of the keywords I monitor is customer service.

I remain impressed with how many people think about it, and how we dance around the edges without really getting to the heart of the matter. (at least, that’s the way I see it)

It seems to me that good customer service can only be measured by a customer.  Yet, many of us try to estimate a measure of customer service by measuring something other than the customer:

  • on-time-delivery
  • speed of answer (in a call center)
  • wait time
  • average handle time
  • percent of calls with 1st call resolution
  • return rates

These are each appropriate measures of something — and I’m not advocating that we stop measuring them.  But they do not equate to good customer service.

Good customer service equals meeting a customer’s expectations regarding how a transaction should go.  From checking out, to getting the product, to handling a return, to dealing with a problem that crops up along the way.

I think we should be making following up calls to a persistent percentage of customers who complete orders and a set of customers who did not complete orders.  Here are the questions:

  1. If you did not complete an order, why not?
  2. If you did complete an order, were you satisfied with how the entire process was handled?  Y/N
  3. If No, what went wrong?
  4. If No, did we handle the problem the way you wanted us to? Y/N

You see, it doesn’t matter if we think we handled an order correctly.  It doesn’t matter whether we think we handled a problem correctly.

The only thing that matters is what the customer thinks.

Do you know what your customers think about your customer service?

There is a direct correlation between customer service satisfaction and repeat buying rates.  And it’s cheaper to motivate a customer to buy again, than it is to find a new, first-time buyer.

Filed under: Direct Commerce, Ideas, , , ,

More on Same Day Delivery

Anyone engaged in ecommerce operations is probably following the trade press reports on same-day-delivery.

It’s a gee-whiz offer, but does it increase sales?  Is it profitable?  Is it cost-effective?

For some merchants, it makes all kinds of sense.  In fact, for some, such as florists, it’s almost a requirement.  It makes sense even for office supply stores, and some high-end merchants — Macy’s, Nordstrom and similar companies.

All of these companies have inventory widely dispersed and can take advantage of local courier services or even, as in the case of most florists, have their own existing delivery infrastructure.

But what about everyone else?

Here’s an interesting story from StorefrontBacktalk.com, reporting on Amazon’s recent experience.  It reports that Amazon saw a conversion increase of 20-25% when they offered same-day-delivery,  but few of customers actually asked for same-day-delivery.

Demonstrating a great point:  Marketing is one-thing, but what customers actually want, need or use may be another.

Now, you just have to figure out where you fit on this new paradigm.

Filed under: Direct Commerce, Ideas, multichannel commerce, Opinion, , , , , , ,

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