Archive | June, 2011

5 Tips for Choosing a Great Fulfillment Company

24 Jun

So you’ve worked hard on your online business, and your products are starting to fly off the shelves.  Amidst all the excitement, you notice that the details of packaging and shipping are starting to take up more and more of your time, which is already spread thin. Order Fulfillment

It’s time to find an order fulfillment partner.

However, entrusting another company with your inventory and warehousing operations is no trifling matter.  Your brand image and customer satisfaction levels are at stake, and switching providers is a major undertaking.

Here’s how to choose the right company the first time:

Check the Track Record

Many companies promoting themselves as order fulfillment companies are actually just warehouses with little to no experience in inventory management, product reordering, shipping regulations, etc.  Usually these companies’ methodologies read something like, “How hard can it be? Just throw it in a box and take it to the post office!”

That’s actually a pretty accurate statement when you’re only shipping 10 items a day, but high-volume shipping handled by an inexperienced provider is a recipe for disaster.  You want to be sure that the company you choose can handle your products as sales grow, and you definitely don’t want to have your service quality jeopardized by your fulfillment provider taking on another client.

Choose a company that has been providing fulfillment for at least several years.

Ask to See the Pick-Error Rate

Order Fulfillment companies are not created equal.

The industry average pick-error (shipping the wrong item) rate is 1 percent, meaning that 1 in every 100 orders will be incorrect. However, that figure is an industry average.  The truth is that many companies have much, much lower error rates (and many have much higher).

A 99% success rate may sound pretty good – until you consider the fact that a fulfillment house ships hundreds (if not thousands) of products every day.  That adds up to be a lot of mistakes.

Ask to See Their Process

A good order fulfillment company should have a well-documented and time tested process for delivering the right items on time, every time.  Any company that has such a process knows that it sets them apart from the competition, and should be proud to show it to you.

Take a good look at the process they show you.  Does it make sense, or does it look like something they just threw together last minute? Be skeptical.

Call The Support Line

In the event that a sale goes sideways and you need to do some emergency cleanup, it’s imperative that you can get in contact with your provider quickly.

Obviously, if you ask a salesperson how their customer service and support is, they’re going to tell you that it’s awesome.  They might even be extremely convincing.  However, there’s really only one way to be sure, and that’s to call them.

When you call, how long does it ring before you get a response? Do you get a computer or a real person?  Is the person helpful and friendly?

Ask for References

Another simple way to find out if the company you’re considering is worth their salt is to ask their current customers.  Ask the sales person for some references, and they should be happy to give you a way to get in touch with another customer.

 

Choosing an order fulfillment provider is a big job, and the most important thing you can do is research.  Don’t skimp!  Keep your head on straight, think logically, and ask for advice and help from someone knowledgeable if you need to.

Keep this in mind and you’ll do great!

How to Write Copy for the Web

17 Jun

Use White Space

Reading words on a screen is decidedly harder than reading ink on paper. In order to help your readers, it’s necessary to give them some extra white space whenever possible.

Unlike printed writing, it is appropriate to start a new paragraph every 2-3 sentences when writing for a screen.  Large blocks of text are intimidating, difficult to navigate, and hard on the eyes.

Use white space.

Use bullet points

Bullet points

  • Make it easy to scan through your article
  • Force you to condense and clarify your thoughts
  • Stand out among paragraph sentences
  •  Increase the likelihood of your article being read (because of the above reasons)

Use short sentences

Everything that can be said can be said simply.  Using big words and long sentences makes reading web copy difficult.

Don’t do it.

Use pictures, not words

A picture really does speak a thousand words. And when you’re trying to communicate as much as possible as quickly as possible, that’s a big deal. Ikea and Lego have this concept down to perfection.

Lego Instructions - Proper web copy

LEGO skips the words altogether

The 6 Biggest Mistakes Marketers Make With QR Codes

10 Jun

1. Using Codes That Don’t Enhance the Experience

With all the hubbub going on about QR codes right now, it’s tempting to throw a QR code into whatever project you’re working on just for the “cool factor.” QR Code Mistakes

Unfortunately, this leads to lots of poorly thought out consumer experiences.  QR codes being posted on websites rather than a simple hyperlink is a perfect example. Instead of just being able to just click a link, the user has to take out their phone, open a scanner app, scan the code and then wait for the glacial mobile browser to take them to your content, where they view it on a 4” screen rather than a 19” screen – with no mouse and a touchscreen keyboard.

Sure, they might think it’s pretty cool if it’s their first time using a QR code, but the moment that novelty wears off it becomes purely irritating. It’s also a waste of an awesome opportunity, because there are hundreds of ways to use them correctly. 

Bottom line: No matter how shiny, new, and cool the technology, you should never use it just for the sake of using it.  Ask yourself how using a QR code will enhance the user’s experience.  If you can’t think of anything, ditch the code.

2. Lead to a Non Mobile-Optimized Website

This is an extremely common mistake.  Using a QR code pretty much guarantees that 100% of all people using the code will be viewing your site with mobile phones.  Websites not optimized for mobile are difficult to navigate, take a long time to load, and are generally no fun to view on a phone.

Creating a mobile-optimized site is a great investment, especially due to the explosive growth in mobile browsing.

3. Directionless Codes

Another huge mistake is having your QR code link to your website’s main page instead of specific content relevant to whatever the code was on.  Usually this mistake is paired with a non mobile-optimized website, which means the user has to wait longer – and then when it does load it’s not what they wanted.

Don’t make people search around your site to find what they’re looking for. They won’t do it, and all you’ll get is a bounce.  If the QR code is being placed on an advertisement, it should take users directly to the content with your ad.

4. Codes That Don’t Scan Well

All QR codes are not created equal, especially if you’ve done some beautification (which you should).  Before you mass produce something with a QR code on it, make sure to test the code with several different phones and several different scanning apps.  If the code doesn’t scan within 3-5 seconds for each and every device, you need to make the code more scannable.

You can make a code more scannable by doing any combination of several things: You can make the code larger, or if space is limited, use a code with a lower error correction rate to lessen the module size of the code.  You can also try changing the code colors for better contrast. If all else fails, you need to shorten the message in the code.  If it’s a URL, use a URL shortener.

5. Ugly Codes

Stock QR codes are ugly, there’s no getting around it.  The idea that creating an attractive and well-planned layout is important to catching your audience’s attention isn’t a new concept.  Why would QR codes be any different?

Thanks to the error correction capabilities built into the codes, you can create custom QR codes that beautifully compliment whatever style you’ve created.

6. Not Explaining What the Code Does

Many QR codes are placed in an ad or on packaging without any clear explanation of what the code will do.  While this lack of information may sometimes be used to build curiosity as part of the user experience, the vast majority of unlabeled QR codes are confusing and should be avoided.

Think about it: if you were surfing the web and you came across a hyperlink simply labeled “click here,” you may be tempted to view it.  However, upon doing so the likelihood of you performing the intended action (making a purchase, filling out a form, etc.) is very unlikely.

The quality of content in your link will always outweigh the novelty of the medium you use to spread it.