What is a Customised Micro Ecommerce Solution?
If you’re the type of business where customers tend to place repeat orders of the same products (if you’re a Workwear company, for example) you are in the right place. This post is about a solution being developed called Customised Micro Ecommerce Shopfronts, that will help you secure more business and protect your profit margins.
I recently started using a home delivery service for dog food. The Sales Rep came to my home, met my dog, and advised on which food would be best. She took into consideration my dog’s breed, age, weight, and lifestyle. Importantly, she also took into consideration my budget, asking what I already fed my dog and matching the price with an alternative from her catalogue. In other words, I was offered a totally bespoke product to suit me and my dog.
Trophy, the dog food manufacturer, have an extensive catalogue of products; wet food, dry food, kibble mix, treats… and not just dog food, they cater for cats, rabbits, birds, and other pets. However, I didn’t need to know that, I’m only concerned with dog food, so Sharon, the rep, didn’t muddy the waters by showing me the whole catalogue, I’ve only learned this later.
So what’s this got to do with websites and online marketing? Well, nothing on the face of it. Sharon operates a very offline franchise, all her business is word of mouth and she sells on the doorstep, she’s not an ecommerce business.
In this day and age, you might think this is an out of date business. However, I believe the online world can learn from Sharon and I remain fascinated by the dynamics of her customer relationships approach.
You see, it’s like this: Sharon takes time early on to get the order requirements right. After that our relationship is really easy; I simply text her and let her know I need a refill and within a day or 2 it’s been delivered. All the hassle of buying dog food has been removed. I used to stand in front of rows of dog food in Pets at Home, overwhelmed by the choice and confused by differing prices. Instead, now I put my faith in Sharon’s expertise to bring me the food my dog needs.
My interest lies in pondering how this approach can be replicated online.
Online Subscription Services
Subscription services are popular at the moment. My wife subscribes to Birchbox. Each month she receives a little box filled with cosmetic treats. She glows when it arrives. The service itself delivers value for money before she’s even opened the box.
We’re currently working with a supplements company who sell the superfood Moringa, in capsules. This is the type of product that customers want a constant supply of, for health and wellbeing reasons. It’s my belief a monthly subscription service will work for this business. The benefits are 2 way; the customer can rest assured they will never run out of Moringa capsules; and my client gets a steady revenue stream.
For other supplements stores, this will work as well. Imagine having a personalised supplement consultant who spends time to assess which supplements you need, and signing up to received a month’s supply by post. You can rest assured you’ll never run out of essential supplements.
Online subscriptions are high on my list of customised online shopping.
Custom web shops for your customers
I recently met a Teamwear/Workwear business. One of the greatest challenges for them is holding onto repeat business in a price sensitive market. In other words, long-standing customers are constantly hammering them down and comparing their price to a competitor, looking for the best deal. In order to win the business, and keep the customer, they feel they have no choice but to lower their prices, which over time is having a detrimental affect on their profit margins.
A possible solution is to offer customers their own custom shop front; a micro-ecommerce shop populated only with the stuff the customer buys.
For the Teamwear/Workwear sector, this is particularly attractive because ordinarily the total amount of stock available is overwhelming, while any one customer will only usually require a tiny fraction. Let me explain this further:
For this particular company there are 15 catalogues of stock to choose from. However, a customer will ultimately choose a handful of matching items probably from the same catalogue. They don’t actually need to browse through 15 catalogues, they should be able to rely on the expertise of the vendor.
So for a team coach, for example, giving him/her a custom team shop populated with their kit, and only their kit, all the pain of choosing and ordering is taken away.
For the vendor, the benefit is in securing the business over a season, maybe more – no more quibbling over price and being hammered down each week, the price is set at the start and both parties commit to it.
Customised online shopping is my prediction for 2017. We’ve seen it for a long time in Amazon, for example, promoting similar products relating to previous orders, and essentially profiling its customers to deliver a sharper purchasing experience… this year it will reach small businesses.
Gone are the days when retailers show all their wares to everyone. Online shopping has done a u-turn and in 2017 customers appreciate being shown and sold only the stuff they want to buy.