Archive for the 'Ecommerce Integrations' Category

The Ultimate Guide to Ecommerce Replatforming and Data Migration

Whether you’re a developer, marketer, entrepreneur or Fortune 500 CEO, there’s an inkling in the back of your mind that perhaps, in the near future, your job or company may be obsolete.

It’s not an unfounded fear.

The rules to success for nearly all industries in today’s economy are fleeting, at best.

Everything keeps changing, and the best of the best have to be able to pivot –– quickly and competently –– in order to keep up.

Of course, to keep up with the newest skill sets and execute on the most modern of campaigns, you often need 2 things:

  1. Money.
  2. Headcount.

This need positions the biggest brands of the world well, enabling them to form monopolies, of sorts – in theory at least.

Yet, that isn’t what we’re seeing take shape.

Large organization move too slowly to pivot quick enough to execute well on trends.

Instead, those companies end up buying the brands that do (re: Walmart acquiring and Unilever buying Dollar Shave Club).

What enables those up-and-comers to take on their legacy competitors (i.e. Amazon and Gillette)?

Agile marketing that gets these brands to the forefront of customer conversion in a more compelling way than traditional companies.

This guide will walk you through what I believe to be the first step toward agile marketing for large enterprises.

Here is what I’ll cover:

What’s in Our Ecommerce Replatforming Guide

  1. Startups focus on marketing, because their technology is covered: Enterprise brands can do this, too. I explain how.
  2. There are 3 pain points that often forces brands to migrate to new technology – and all of them are signals that you should have done it much, much sooner. But I believe in staring at a problem. We’ll walk through how you can do it right now.
  3. Your 3 options when it comes to ecommerce technology. Not every solution is right for every brand. But there are ones that will eliminate the need for you to migrate ever again –– and ones that will force this process time and time again. We’ll go through the cost/benefit analysis of these.
  4. The 6 steps to an ecommerce re-platforming and migration. The biggest 2 of which are issuing the RFP and transferring the data. I’ll give you an RFP template you can print out and use right now –– and introduce you to the free services teams that will migrate your data for you. Yes, free. Seriously.
  5. A primer on what NOT to do during a shopping cart migration. Again, I don’t like to admire problems. I address them. This is the elephant in the room. The #1 rule? Don’t over invest. The point of your technology is to enable better and more effective marketing and sales. Whizzbang is nice, but not necessary.
  6. I’ll give you an ecommerce replatforming checklist. If you it this far in the piece, I’m assuming you, like me, like to get things done. This list will let you mark off one by one the steps you and your team need to take to do it first the first time, and then never again.  
  7. I’ll teach you how to put platforms to the test. Sure, you issue an RFP and sure, you get answers back. But do not buy before you try. Do not buy before your developers try. Do not buy before your legal tries. DO NOT BUY BEFORE YOU TRY.
  8. Another word on data migration services – because some platforms offer them for free, some services are self-serve and others are just plain worth the dollars to make sure your data transfers effectively. It is how you upset. It is how you better target marketing. It is how you know how your business is running up and to the right and not vice versa. It matters, so it gets its own section.
  9. Finally, I’ll debunk the most common data migration myths out there. Just for fun.

Let’s get started.

Ready to begin the RFP process?

Issuing an RFP is the next step for brands considering a re-platform. However, RFPs can be tricky – and what you include in them makes a world of difference in terms of what you get from your new platform (and also in making the right choice to begin with).

This free RFP includes 188 questions, from big ideas to minutiae, so you don’t miss a thing. 

Download your free RFP template.

Successful Brands Focus on Marketing

What allows these companies to focus on marketing is their choice of technology stack from the onset.

Or, if not from the onset, these companies are quick to replatform to a better solution, so that website maintenance and bug patches are not taking priority over marketing activities.

  • The latter leads to sales, growth and revenue.
  • The former doesn’t have to be business as usual.

That is why you must pick the right ecommerce platform – because you need to focus on marketing and growth.

After all, marketing is expensive, competitive, and requires a lot of time.

It is pay-to-play in so many channels:

  • Adwords.
  • Facebook.
  • TV.
  • Radio.

In the ones where it isn’t – say, SEO – you’re competing against a gamut of competitors and bigger brands, often with a much bigger head start.

And, each of these channels are getting more and more saturated everyday. So why are you spending your time and money on a “good enough” ecommerce solution?


  • The Carolina Panthers: Making the switch from Yahoo to BigCommerce meant a 16% decrease in site bounce rate, 83% increase in mobile conversion rate and a 37% increase in conversion across the board. And that was just after launching.
  • Henna Caravan: Making the switch from Magento to BigCommerce gave Henna Caravan a 33% increase in revenue through SEO and a 2X industry average conversion rate, all within 2 weeks of launch.
  • Veppo: Making the switch from Shopify Plus to BigCommerce saved Veppo thousands in revenue and reduced manual work hours by 40%.
  • Awesome GTI: Making the switch from Magento to BigCommerce increased Awesome GTI’s YoY revenue more than 95%, saw conversion rates increase nearly 15% and nearly a 17% increase in AOV YoY.
  • NaturallyCurly: Making the switch from Lemonstand to BigCommerce gave NaturallyCurly the ability to sync their ERP and storefront, saving the company 520 hours of manual work a week.

Modern ecommerce platforms are the equivalent of a marketing technology, development and IT staff – all in one.

It’s Moore’s law.

Likely when you first launched your brand, ecommerce platforms were cumbersome, expensive and required hours of extra work you ended up taking on internally or that you’ve outsourced to platform experts.

Today, there are ecommerce platforms out there that take all the technical heavy lifting off your hands –– allowing your team and business the time and financial resources needed to capitalize on the market with strategic and engaging campaigns.

This is how you win.

  • You set yourself up for success.
  • You think about the future.

Would you still be using a Nokia brick phone today?

No. The Capt’n Crunch-size chip used in there is now the size of your fingernail –– and it stores a whole lot more.

Upward mobility requires change. Future-proofing is how you blockade against antiquation or even worse, extinction.

The line is drawn in the sand. It’s time you choose your side.

Do 1 or More of These Issues Apply to You?

In a perfect world, a site replatforming project would be a year in planning. You would have allotted budget and defined clear goals.

In reality, replatforming isn’t something companies proactively plan. Most often, there’s some driving issue — or a number of them — forcing a company to migrate.

Our team sees these issues regularly – and have compiled a string list of the most common below.

Go ahead, check off right next to the ones that apply to your business. Check off more than one, and it’s time to replatform.

Financial Issues Related to Your Ecommerce Platform

  • We can’t afford to continue doing business with our existing ecommerce platform due to the high maintenance costs.
  • We experienced a recent merger or acquisition, allowing for consolidation and review of current platforms for efficiency gains.
  • We’re working on new initiatives such as launching new brands, product lines or launching into new markets. With new launches, we want to test out more cost-effective solutions in order to prove out concept. We’ve begun to see that the more cost-effective platforms outperform our legacy platform the main brand is using.

Technical Issues Related to Your Ecommerce Platform

  • Our old solution has grown unstable under peak traffic conditions, resulting in slow site performance and bad customer experience.
  • The catalogue database can’t handle the physical number of SKUs we’ve added to the catalogue over the years.
  • The platform only captures a limited number of attributes, can only associate a limited number of product related assets, has a limited call volume on APIs or, as in some cases, can’t handle certain types of content such as video.
  • It takes too long to develop new features on the old platform and the backlog of projects in IT is becoming unmanageable and cost prohibitive.


  • Setting Up Your Migrated Store: Store setup checklist, store settings and additional resources
  • Moving Your Store to BigCommerce: Why you should move your store to BigCommerce, how to get started, how to make the move, and related references

Marketing Issues Related to Your Ecommerce Platform

  • In our organization, our marketing team is the tip of the spear for online growth. Our marketing team is tasked with not only reaching potential customers and driving traffic to the site, but also converting at the highest rate possible. We want something more intuitive, allowing us to be more creative and quick in our GTM execution.
  • Our old ecommerce platform prevents our marketing team from converting visitors that otherwise might have converted on a newer, more featured platform. Worse still, our old platform prevents us from competing in key areas entirely. Some of the key features and capabilities that our marketing team is looking for include
    • Improved Site Search: Directed and faceted. Marketing wants to be able to control search results for the best possible user experience.
    • Personalization: Dynamic content presentation and optimization based on multiple visitor personas.
    • Mobile Commerce: Specific design and funnel for mobile devices in the wake of mobile-first customer expectations.
    • Social Media: Hooks for marketing on the top social sites, easy share-ability and social commerce capabilities.
    • Tag Management: Re-tagging the site for efficient digital marketing, increased search functionality and better SEO based on Google’s indexing of the site map.

Any one of these requirements could be justification enough for a new platform.

Most companies looking to re-platform, however, have multiple of these issues.

Take mobile commerce, for example.

Mobile revenue has jumped dramatically with the combination of social media platforms and powerful mobile devices, over 50% for many retailers.

Not having your ecommerce website support mobile visitors cuts out a large selling opportunity, not to mention the SEO hit you take from Google’s newest search algorithms, which reward mobile readiness and penalize sites that don’t support mobile.

In fact, beginning July 2018, Google will make mobile site speed also a ranking factor for mobile algorithms.

This means your not only need to have a mobile-friendly site, but that it needs to be fast. Really fast.

Not having this one feature (which is really 2: mobile-friendly site and mobile page load speed), which takes months of coding for an on-premise or custom solution, is reason enough to switch — not to mention the financials of having to pay for such coding work.

And that’s just a basic example. What about integration with new payment solutions like digital wallets?

  • Do you want to have to build out your individual brand integration with Amazon Pay, Apple Pay, PayPal One Touch, etc?
  • Or would you rather your platform build that out, test it and ensure it works, take on the PCI compliance and ultimately just have you be able to click, one and done it’s live on the product?

It’s your choice.

The Best Ecommerce Platform Options

Before I begin to outline the process for a replatform, it’s important that you understand your ecommerce platform options:

  • Homegrown.
  • Onsite or on premise.
  • Cloud.
  • SaaS.

Below is an outline of each, including pros and cons based on your particular business needs.

This is the basic background information you’ll need for issuing a complete and structured ecommerce RFP to a technology provider, the details of which I’ll get into in a moment.

Homegrown Technology

This is usually a custom LAMP or .NET-based implementation supplemented by various middleware, the origins of which you may or may not know.

Quite often, these platforms are also connected to backend systems running custom-built ERP software.

In my experience, I’ve even run across the occasional IBM AS400 mainframe locked away in the deep recesses of IT.

This middleware could easily be replaced by your smartphone today, but nobody dare touch it lest it breaks and brings the whole site down.

Homegrown Ecommerce Pros and Cons:
  • Pros: The pros of a homegrown platform are that you have the potential for ultimate flexibility. You can customize each feature exactly the way you want, without the constraint of a template. Although in reality, real world resource constraints can mean that potential flexibility isn’t realized.
  • Cons: The cons with a homegrown platform are that you are a customer of one and every feature you want to add has to be developed from the ground up. Homegrown platforms are also often expensive to maintain on a day-to-day basis.

Focus on Brand Building, Not Building Tech.

“We knew it was going to take us 5 years to get caught up with everyone else if we went with open source or custom build.

We needed a platform that had everything we needed right then already built-in, and one with extensible APIs we could connect to our home grown ERP system.

That meant we were looking at a SaaS solution.”

– Jason Boyce, CEO and Co-Founder, Dazadi

Read the Dazadi Story.

Onsite or On Premise Technology

With onsite, sometimes called on premise technology, the ecommerce platform is licensed from and then hosted on the client’s internal network.

The client, or business owner, is then responsible for managing all ecommerce aspects including:

  • Uptime
  • Bandwidth
  • CDN
  • PCI compliance and security.

Commonly deployed onsite platforms include Websphere, Oracle Commerce and Magento Enterprise.

On Premise Ecommerce Pros and Cons:
  • Pros: The pros of this option are less obvious. There’s a perception of improved security, but I’ll let the security experts weigh in. “As online shopping continues to overpower in-store shopping, ecommerce sites are increasingly targeted by hackers as they have become a gold mine for credit card information,” said Shahar Tal, Malware and Vulnerability Research Manager at Check Point Software Technologies. “The vulnerability we uncovered [on Magento] represents a significant threat not to just one store, but to all of the retail brands that use the Magento platform for their online stores – which represents about 30% of the ecommerce market.”
  • Cons: The cons of onsite deployments are that you need a small army of IT staff to run, maintain and sometimes update the platform. Also, quite often, companies customize their deployments to the point that they get off of the platform upgrade path and are then stuck on an old version of the ecommerce platform. The cost of these upgrades and maintenance, however, is likely the biggest con. A scaling ecommerce business can spend anywhere from $100,000 to $500,000 per year to ensure an onsite solution is functioning properly. Here’s a calculator you can use to see what your overall costs would be if you were to migrate to or stay on an on premise solution.

Less Headaches. More Sales.

“When I first bought Spectrum Audio, it was on Magento and I was literally paying developers every couple of days to fix something.

Our overhead on Magento was more than $2,000 a month alone, just between server costs and paying developers. And the sales weren’t near where they are today.

To be a successful store owner, I can’t afford to have this huge team of developers that know everything. You can have someone on the inside for small fixes, but really we can’t be an ecommerce platform on top of being an online store.”

– John McCann, CEO of Spectrum Audio.

Read the Spectrum Audio Story.

Cloud Ecommerce Technology

There’s currently a lot of confusion in market about the difference between cloud ecommerce and SaaS ecommerce.

Let’s put that confusion to rest right now.

SaaS and Cloud ecommerce are not the same.

With Cloud ecommerce, you still pay extra in licensing fees, as well as to patch vulnerabilities and to complete upgrades.

This aspect of cloud ecommerce is similar to on-premise.

In fact, many on-premise ecommerce technologies are those that are launching cloud solutions.

The difference, however, is that the server is hosted and maintained by a third-party, similar to how it is done in the SaaS model.

Here are the differences between SaaS and cloud broken out.

Differences Between Cloud Ecommerce and SaaS:

  • Server tainted and hosted by a third party.
    • SaaS: Yes
    • Cloud: Yes
  • No need to install or keep up with software editions.
    • SaaS: Yes
    • Cloud: No
  • PCI compliance and security handled for you.
    • SaaS: Yes
    • Cloud: No
  • Automatic software upgrades.
    • SaaS: Yes
    • Cloud: No
  • No downtime with new software versions.
    • SaaS: Yes
    • Cloud: No, there will be downtime during versioning updates

SaaS Ecommerce Technology

Before we hop into this realm, know that there are multiple versions of SaaS ecommerce platforms.

  • Multi-tenant: customers share the same instance of the application and receive upgrades simultaneously.
  • Single tenant: customers have their own instance of the application, upgrades are up to the customer
  • Hybrid models: customers share the same instance with simultaneous upgrades, with open APIs for custom iterations

Multi-tenant architecture is one of the main reasons that SaaS ecommerce platforms have cost advantages over homegrown or onsite implementations.

Single tenant SaaS platforms take into account the need for specific brand customizability, but it’s easy to end up off the upgrade path and expose your brand to vulnerabilities (similar to on-premise technology).

A hybrid model is the best option for brands, allowing for low total cost of ownership, simultaneous platform upgrades and open APIs for extreme customizability without falling off an upgrade path.

In other words, business owners get the lower cost of the multi-tenant deployment with the custom capabilities of a single tenant deployment.

An example of a hybrid ecommerce platform would be BigCommerce, where you can have a customized version of the platform but still benefit from the SaaS implementation.

The main aspect all SaaS deployments have in common is their pricing model. Business owners enter into a monthly payment agreement.

Some portions of the first year’s fees are usually due up front, but not always.

Pricing terms vary widely depending on the client’s circumstances, for instance:

  • Number of SKUs
  • Monthly sales
  • Monthly traffic and more.
SaaS Ecommerce Pros and Cons:
  • Pros: The pros of implementing a SaaS platform are primarily based on cost and ease of management. With SaaS, the vendor is developing features for multiple customers and so the expense is amortized across the entire customer base, which keeps costs down for everyone. The SaaS vendor’s roadmap is also usually driven by demand from their customers, so you’re pooling requirements across multiple segments of the industry. This leads to a robust product feature roadmap, which meets and often exceeds the requirements of most clients.
  • Cons: The cons of a SaaS deployment are that you are restricted to some degree by the nature of the fact that the platform is usually multi-tenant. This means that the flexibility you might have with a homegrown or on premise platform is not necessarily there. Many SaaS providers, however, have open APIs, which allow for third-party integrators that often function similarly to if you were integrating the software on your owned and operated system. As the SaaS ecommerce industry evolves, this con is much less of concern thanks to open and malleable APIs. In fact, BigCommerce allows for 100’s of API calls per second, letting retailers sync 25,000 product inventory from an ERP in only 60 seconds.

OK, now that you know you need to switch and you know what your options are, it’s time to issue an RFP.

Your Ecommerce Replatform Strategy

Do you know the #1 reason why brands migrate from their ecommerce platform?

It’s not just about money – but that is a big consideration.

It isn’t just about being able to execute cooler, more impactful marketing campaigns – but of course everything that exists on a RFP is getting at the end goal.

No, the #1 reason is empowerment.

Ecommerce marketing is harder than ever before. It’s also more costly. Brands can’t afford to move slowly. They can’t afford to NOT be agile.

And yet, the vast majority of ecommerce platforms tie your marketing team’s hands behind their back – leaving them bobbing for conversion apples they could on other platforms simply just pick up.

OK, that might not be the best metaphor. So, let’s dive in to the real work: issuing an RFP.

This will allow you switch from one ecommerce platform to another – all without losing your SEO rankings or customized design or legally required security protocol.

1. Get ready to issue an RFP (request for proposal).

A proper Request for Proposal (RFP) process will help dramatically reduce your frustrations or concerns as you determine which SaaS provider is right for your growing business.

RFPs are used by scaling and enterprise brands looking to properly evaluate key stakeholder needs, scope and goals in large-scale projects which will affect the operation of an entire organization.

The more information you provide in the RFP process, the less room there is for confusion later on.

A sloppy RFP could cost you months in wasted time, so be detailed, clear and over communicate your needs. This post will provide everything you need to do so.


For ecommerce platforms, you should issue an RFP. This because of the various attributes unique to online businesses that must be accounted for.

Each ecommerce platform handles these needs a bit differently. You want to see their proposal, along with a quote, not just a quote for typical services.

RFPs generally require more work on both parties –– and this guide will explain your part, as the business.


Get your free RFP template.

2. Write the RFP.

Before you start committing the rest of the organization to an ecommerce replatforming project, you should conduct an initial ROI modeling session and begin internally mapping out the RFP process.

This is the first step to writing a RFP.

Sit down with finance and do an honest review of the ecommerce business. Before you can begin developing a detailed set of requirements and an RFP, you will need to have the numbers for your business locked down.

These include the usual:

  • Unique Visitors
  • Gross Revenue
  • Average Order Value (AOV)
  • Conversion rates
  • Number of transactions
  • Number of units per transaction
  • Gross Margin
  • Net Margin

If you decide to go down the SaaS platform route, you will be sharing this information with the vendor so they can calculate anticipated usage and pricing.

3. Forecast revenue and total cost of ownership.

Next, create a three year forecasted improvement on the above metrics if you were to deploy a new platform.

Allow six months post launch for site optimization. Don’t forecast any lift during those six months.

Here’s a sample walkthrough of how you might achieve this for your own business.

The numbers below are based on a last 90 day calculation. The forecast based on 57% overall ecommerce growth by 2018.

Conservative numbers are used here.

Once you figure out your business forecast, look into how much each ecommerce technology solution will cost.

You can use our Total Cost of Ownership Calculator here, or take a look at the sample chart below for reference, based on a business making at least $2,500,000 in revenue annually.

Then, calculate your savings, and figure out the average cost for services like SEO, social media and more.

Finally, add in the revenue lift generally seen by these services, and the upside associated with it for your business’ revenue.

Again, you can use our calculator to do this automatically for you, or take a look at our sample below.

Through this analysis, you will have determined the amount of investment you can reasonably afford for your website replatforming project.

This will save you time later on and help you to avoid looking too far into platforms that you simply cannot afford.


Many ecommerce platforms will pass you off to a partner for transferring your catalog and customer data (what many people refer to as “data migration”), adding anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000 to your initial launch fee and 6 weeks to 6 months in go-to-market timing.

That’s a lot of money and time – and can significantly affect total cost of ownership.

BigCommerce offers free transfer services with a 4 week GTM timeline when coming from non-custom solutions.

Ask the platforms you’re considering about their options and account for this in your ROI model.

Free data migration services.

4. Investigate built-in functionality vs. third-party apps and integrations.

A technical replatforming project is an opportunity to change and improve your efficiencies in other areas of the business.

To make sure you get the most, then, out of the RFP process, take a look at all existing business processes and determine if there are better ways to achieve the same results.

I also suggest taking a look at the various third-party apps that you have undoubtedly accumulated through the years, including:

  • Automated order notifications
  • Product filtering and faceted search
  • Automatic sales tax calculated at checkout

Many of these can be replaced with features that now come standard on modern ecommerce platforms.

Add the savings from these projected changes into your budget.

For example, 68% of online carts are abandoned and SaaS platforms like BigCommerce now recover on average 15% of those.

Be sure to calculate that revenue in your model. Here is a calculator you can use to do so.

Try to use a fact-based measurement criteria during this discovery process. I prefer projected savings, revenue or ROI.

This phase of the process can be contentious since you’re talking about eliminating tools, processes and potentially people.

The measurement criteria helps to keep the emotion out of the process.

A note on steering committees

I know many people recommend setting up steering committees for this process, but they’re not for everyone and they can definitely slow the replatforming process down.

I prefer to have one decision maker leading the project from the client side and have them ensure that all stakeholder requirements are captured and ranked.

There will, of course, be the need for stakeholder reviews, but they’re different from establishing an actual committee, specifically in the area of final decision-making.

For the fastest and most effective GTM strategy, avoid committees and appoint a project head.

5. Scope integration redirects and initiation.

This is the stage of the replatforming process where you should spend significant time and effort mapping out every touch point between the ecommerce platform and all other systems at your company.

Create a list of each integration point and determine what will happen to that integration during replatforming.

It’s at this crucial stage that you determine what’s in scope for the project and what is not.

Also include a review of any catalog transfers that will be necessary and make sure to include them in the RFP, including:

  • Customer data files
  • Product catalogues
  • Assets or content such as product images

Proper due diligence at this stage of the process will save time and money later on. Review everything 2 or 3 times to make sure that nothing has been left out.

6. Meet with all potential stakeholders.

Confirm that all stakeholders have been given ample opportunity to share their requirements as well as all business processes that interface with the ecommerce platform.

Stakeholders are usually from the following departments/disciplines.

What Not to Do in the Replatform Process

On a very large project I personally worked on, after numerous sessions with all necessary stakeholders, I asked one last time if we had covered every process, integration point and application that would interface with the new ecommerce platform.

Everyone nodded in acknowledgement … until one voice at the back of the room asked if we had accounted for the two guys in Turkey.

I thought he was joking.

He explained that those two guys performed a critical database conversion on the global master product data file on a nightly basis.

True story.

Don’t forget about the two guys in turkey!

But don’t go overboard, either.

I’ve seen countless million – tens of millions of dollars actually – wasted on high priced consulting firms more concerned about billable hours than finding the absolute best solution for the client.

Don’t fall into the trap of over engineering your solution.

I’ve also seen architecture scoped out on PowerPoint slides that look amazing but are entirely unrealistic in the real world, either because they would run too slow, cost too much or just not integrate properly.

It’s a myth that you can take the “best in breed” products in various categories and try to make them all fit together.

It’s much better to get one good platform and use it to the fullest extent possible.

I’d be lying if I said I’ve never seen a company scope out a behemoth of integrated apps only to spend tens of millions of dollars and never see it run properly.

True story:

Recently, a company I know of spent millions of dollars (high teens) to deploy a large, well known ecommerce platform.

Problem is, that by the time they got done engineering their idea of nirvana, the ecommerce platform’s role was basically relegated to that of a shopping cart!

  • A state of the art full-blown platform operating at maybe 20% of its potential.
  • Millions of dollars wasted
  • An unnecessarily complicated architecture that took way too long to implement

What they ended up with could have been replaced with at most, a $3 million alternative.

This was a CIO gone wild. And this isn’t an isolated case. I’ve seen it way too often.

A Handy Ecommerce Replatforming Checklist

There are numerous ecommerce platforms available today, everything from simple carts to enterprise grade platforms that include strong search, personalization and CMS capabilities.

For our purposes, let’s say that there are about 30 different platforms to choose from. That’s far too many to engage in an RFP.

You should be able to narrow down your RFP list to 5-8 vendors based on your:

  • Current online revenue
  • SKUs
  • Ratio of traffic vs. transactions
  • Average order value
  • Units per order
  • Any unique elements specific to your business such as hard goods vs. soft goods, continuity/subscription business or complex configuration capabilities

At JCH, we use a process called the Accelerated Vendor Selection Process (AVSP).

This process is based on our experience and knowledge of ecommerce platforms, and this helps us to narrow the focus of the RFP down to the key features that are most important to the client.

Our RFPs contain over 150 questions to confirm vendor capabilities and for use in vendor comparison charts.

This may seem like a lot, but let’s put it into context: a mid-tier SaaS platform contains over 280 features.

That doesn’t include third party integrations, catalog transfer services, systems architecture or security compliance issues — all of which will need to be addressed in the RFP process.

Ecommerce Migration Checklist:
  1. Determine the best platform options for your business.
  2. Issue an RFP to those platforms.
  3. Forecast revenue and total cost of ownership.
  4. Investigate built-in functionality vs. third-party apps.
  5. Determine integration redirects and initiation.
  6. Meet with all potential stakeholders and put platforms to the test.
  7. Determine data shopping cart migration service and launch migration.
  8. Redesign site, relaunch in beta and QA with stakeholders.
  9. Relaunch site publicly, and redirect URLs.

How to Put Platforms to the Test

Based on the responses to your RFP, you should now have a short list of 3-5 potential vendors.

The next step is to create a detailed set of use cases to be performed by the vendor, via webex for smaller opportunities and onsite for larger deployments.

There are a couple reasons for this:

  1. Stakeholders get to see what a day in the life of using the platform will be like for them. Their feedback is invaluable. They get to see the different ways various vendors have chosen to execute various tasks in the platform and can see which methodologies might suit their particular requirements better. Lastly, maybe most importantly, they feel a sense of ownership in the process and an appreciation for the final vendor selection.
  2. The more important reason for these tests is to make the vendor demonstrate their capabilities live. It’s easy for a vendor to say that they support a feature, but when it comes time to demonstrate it, the finer details are revealed. For example, a vendor may say they support a certain feature but in reality it requires a separate customization to actually deploy it in the field.

The list of use cases that you develop will depend on the size of deployment, but for the larger ones, it is advisable to schedule about four hours.

Some scenarios take 10 minutes to run through, others can take 30 minutes.

It’s very important that each vendor be given the same list and allotted time to complete their scenarios.

This creates a level playing field upon which comparisons can be more easily made, especially for the stakeholders who are new to the process.

You can use this checklist and agenda for your teams and the platform you are testing. This covers the majority of common needs during a replatform.

Download a printable version here. 

We also allow half an hour at the beginning of the meeting for a general company sales pitch presentation, and about 20 minutes at the end for closing remarks and a final pitch.

Here is what our top level agenda looks like, simplified.

Don’t Forget About Data Migration Services

Transferring your product, category and customer data is perhaps the most overlooked aspect of an ecommerce replatforming or replatforming applications, in general.

Accurate data is essential to running your business.

A poor transfer could result in:

  • Incorrect product mapping.
  • Incorrect product commendations.
  • Incorrect product options.
  • Incorrect product images.
  • Inaccurate customer data.
  • Poor syncing with ERP or POS (think Square or Netsuite).

And those are only to name a few.

You’d be stuck going through each individual SKU and updating all information for product data that was transferred or migrated incorrectly.

For customer data, it would just be lost forever. I cannot stress enough how big of a deal this is.

Again, I’m preaching to the choir.

So, once you’ve decided which platform, or have narrowed it down to two, you will switch to, ask immediately about migration and transfer services.

And don’t let an unclear answer pass.

Many ecommerce platforms will pass you off to a partner for catalog transfer services, adding anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000 to your initial launch fee and 6 weeks to 6 months in go-to-market timing.

That’s a lot of money and time – and can significantly affect total cost of ownership.

Do not sign a contract until you have this information. If you are passed off to partner, talk to that partner immediately.

Get a solid understanding of how the catalog transfer or data migration will be done and similar stores they have already transferred, ideally from the same platform you are on. Reach out to that brand, too, and ask about the service.

Better yet, choose an ecommerce platform that provides this service in-house.

At BigCommerce, they have a team of dedicated experts with a combined 30+ years in ecommerce and 15+ years in catalog transfer services.

In the last three years alone, they have transferred more than 20,000 online stores from 50 different ecommerce technology platforms. The service typically take 4-8 weeks for GTM.

This comes at little to no additional cost to a brand.

Because their team has worked with so many brands, they’ve learned that every single online store is unique, and that as they’ve scaled, so has their service.

To ensure catalog & customer data is transferred successfully, our catalog transfer services team implements a 3 steps quality assurance process.

This process includes spot checking the data on your new BigCommerce store. The team’s goal is to transfer these items safely, swiftly and securely.

Top 5 Data Migration Myths Debunked

In the course of performing so many transfers, our team has spoken to a diverse group of business owners, walking them through the process of moving to a new platform.

Below are the top five myths they’ve heard about catalog transfers.

1. Data Migration Myth #1: We miss out on sales while you transfer our data.

Your store won’t go offline during the transfer process.

We do all the work on your new BigCommerce store backend, then give you as much time as you need to customize your settings, test your site and train your team.

When you’re ready, and only when you’re ready, you can launch your new ecommerce storefront — complete with updated data already uploaded into your backend.

This allows you to continue business as usual from day one.

While all of this is happening, your original store stays live on your current platform. We don’t require that it come down, and BigCommerce and our global network of partners actually advise against it.

We understand that uptime is one of the most crucial factors to gaining and maintaining consumer trust, so all our work can happen with no downtime required.

2. Data Migration Myth #2: We’ll lose our design if we replatform.

Worrying about losing your beautiful, custom design? Don’t.

BigCommerce’s open template files allow you to bring custom design elements to your new store, and our design partners, ensure that it happens seamlessly.

Check out a full list of BigCommerce’s best designed customer sites – and how those designs have increased conversion.

3. Data Migration Myth #3: When we move the store to a new host, we’ll lose all our traffic.

It is true that moving to a new server, even when using the same domain name, can impact search engine rankings if done improperly.

The good news, though, is that people move servers all the time, and search engines like Google have best practices which mitigate the effects.

We follow those best practices to minimize all controllable risk. We properly implement 301 redirects for your product and category pages.

Our goal is to move your product data with the same search ranking foundation you had built on your previous platform.

That way, our SEO-friendly platform can quickly drive your traffic to new heights.

4. Data Migration Myth #4: Replatforming means we can clone our store exactly.

No, you cannot clone your store exactly.

You can, however, transfer a majority of your existing data from your current ecommerce store to your new backend. In fact, we make sure that happens without opening you up to any potential issues or liabilities.

As for your store’s look and feel, you’re probably thinking about leaving your current platform because it’s lacking in some way, so why would you want to recreate those same shortfalls?

The quicker you embrace the idea that it requires some change to improve your online business, the quicker you can benefit from transferring to a fully featured enterprise solution like BigCommerce.

We offer a wealth of next-level features that will ensure your transition is as painless — and profitable — as possible.

For instance, with dozens of integrated payment gateways, you’ll rarely need a payment option we don’t offer. Chances are that we have an integration with the payment gateway you are using right now, and you may even find new options like Square and PayPal powered by Braintree that you like more.

In all, BigCommerce offers more than 250 one-click integrations with leading software providers like Survey Monkey, HubSpot, Alibaba and Salesforce. That makes it easy to integrate with the tools you already use.

Plus, our open and unrestricted API blows our competitors out of the water.

Seamlessly connect to critical business software with a powerful API that processes updates up to 100x faster than Shopify Plus.

BigCommerce can handle 100’s of API calls per second. Shopify Plus limits you to 10 per second. Performing an ERP inventory sync of 25,000 products and variants on BigCommerce would take 60 seconds, compared to 2hrs using the Shopify Plus API.

5. Data Migration Myth #5: We have great engineers. We can do it ourselves.

Even if you’re a great developer, our experience has taught us that the first time you undertake an unfamiliar task like this, it rarely goes according to plan.

Anybody who has tried to renovate their own house knows how steep the learning curve can be.

Wouldn’t your time be better spent growing your business and serving your customers while delegating your transfer to veteran engineers who can get it done quickly and correctly?

Your data isn’t something you want to risk, and we’ve heard our fair share of self-transfer horror stories.

When you’re talking about securing and improving your financial future, you can’t afford to let your ego get in the way. Instead, trust your migration to an industry-leading team with more than 20,000 successful migrations completed.

For more information on BigCommerce’s transfer services, read our support documentation on how to move your store to BigCommerce.

And know, this is only documentation. You’ll have an account manager and on-boarding consultant by your side, handling all the heavy lifting, every step of the way.

Tools to Help You Make the Move Now

In all, figuring out which ecommerce platform is right for your business is a time consuming task. But a proper replatforming project is well worth the wait.

A modern ecommerce backend allows you to streamline processes while increasing site speed, stability and security to outperform industry standards.

SaaS works the way technology should – behind the scenes.

Plus, it does so cost effectively, allowing you to invest in marketing initiatives that drive growth for your brand.

Take BigCommerce on a test drive.

Learn more about self-migrating from the following platforms:

  • Shopify.
  • Magento.
  • WooCommerce.
  • Yahoo Stores.
  • Volusion.

Want more insights like this?

We’re on a mission to provide businesses like yours marketing and sales tips, tricks and industry leading knowledge to build the next house-hold name brand. Don’t miss a post. Sign up for our weekly newsletter.


Ecommerce Expertise &Ecommerce Integrations &ecommerce solution &replatforming Alex Medviediev 23 Jan 2018 Comments Off on The Ultimate Guide to Ecommerce Replatforming and Data Migration

How 5 Online Companies Already Elevated Revenue As much as 96.44% – Simply By Selling on eBay

For online brands searching to grow into untouched markets, eBay is frequently overlooked in support of Amazon . com or selling on Facebook.

And that’s departing massive levels of revenue up for grabs for individuals companies that do turn to eBay for expansion.

In the end, eBay includes a total 167 million shoppers, whom which spent $84 billion in 2016 alone. It is not measly sum of money –– not really for multi-billion dollar online retailers.

Actually, eBay has a number of things opting for it compared to other channels you may consider.

  1. It’s much simpler to obtain setup on. Actually, it requires minutes.
  2. Fraud apparently occurs less frequently around the marketplace –– helping you save some time and frustration
  3. Because of less competition, it’s simpler to position and also be sales rapidly, as with under 3 several weeks.

That is why in November 2016, BigCommerce and eBay partnered as much as make getting setup much simpler –– while increasing revenue for savvy brands searching to develop sales with little work.

That integration continues to be the industry’s only active native integration helping you to increase sales by selling straight to eBay’s massive subscriber base, from your BigCommerce user interface.

And, keep it in check all inside your order panel.

The utilization cases change from manufacturer to manufacturer, but countless stores happen to be connected and getting additional revenue with hardly any additional work.

Here are just 5 eBay business success tales — and just how they made it happen.

Start Selling on eBay Now

Don’t hold back until before christmas to try out the eBay funnel. Get began now.

Jen Thomas, Owner, Smudgy Monkey Gifts &amp Accessories

  • 96.44% rise in revenue through eBay + BigCommerce integration by 2017

10 years ago, my hubby was let go and so i began a company to market products on eBay to fill the space as they was searching for work.

I had been fortunate to locate a niche product which was trending at that time and my company experienced growth every year.

Eventually I opened up an ecommerce store off eBay. As I still sell on eBay using that store, I’m hopeful to swing the buyers from eBay to my ecommerce store making them customers who’ll go back to Smudgy Monkey when they’re searching for any thoughtful gifts from the store that provides exceptional customer support and cost.

That stated, creating credibility through sales on eBay with a focus on great customer support continues to be my most effective marketing way to date.

Clive de Sousa, Chief executive officer, Glory Cycles

  • 1.5% rise in revenue through eBay + BigCommerce integration by 2017

I saw a notification my BigCommerce dashboard in 2016 there would be a new integration with eBay. I figured: “Why not do it now If it is likely to be fast and simple?Inches So, I went ahead and installed it and went after that.

The procedure was very easy and simple to make use of. The only real challenge we encountered was our own data not been sufficient for which eBay needed. We’d to update that.

However the integration itself works fantastic for all of us! It’s open some sales possibilities i was unaware of so we have expanded these.

Although we haven’t even yet expanded our data as to the the BigCommerce system is able to do, we are able to confirm our eBay sales are up by greater than 50% on which i was doing for hardly any additional work. Plus, overall revenue expires 1.5% –– again, with hardly any work.

I’d recommend the combination without a doubt! Actually this can be better the other way round: I recommend BigCommerce to the eBay store proprietors.

Damon Didier, VP of promoting at Business Furniture Source

  • 46.7% rise in revenue through eBay + BigCommerce integration by 2017

BigCommerce&#8217s connections to eBay and Amazon . com have driven considerable internet sales for all of us, and powerful Search engine optimization helps they are driving both on the internet and in-store sales.

Nikole Cruz, Office Manager &amp Customer Support Manager, Hawk Supplements

  • 100% rise in revenue through eBay + BigCommerce integration by 2017

The greatest motorists of sales for all of us this season happen to be advertising on Facebook and selling on eBay!

Nick Borrelli, Ecommerce Marketing Director, Nu Wave Marine

  • .13% rise in revenue through eBay + BigCommerce integration by 2017

Before I began my shop, I had been selling motorcycle and also got inside a bad crash while delivering one. After, I had been fired from my job and I needed to return home with my father.

At that time, my father owned a little marine auto technician shop. I began digging through his piles of parts and selling them on eBay.

I’d no ecommerce experience with no boating experience, however i was effective! So, I began listing new items on eBay and before you decide to understood it, it had been a complete time operation.

The logical next thing was to reduce the middleman (eBay) to ensure that we’re able to make more profit. That’s in BigCommerce, built a website, trained myself Search engine optimization and PPC. eBay still drives sales for all of us, though, and plays a role in overall main point here.

Final Word

Not selling yet on eBay? You’re departing money up for grabs. It’s quick. It’s very easy. It really works.

Start Selling on eBay Now

Don’t hold back until before christmas to try out the eBay funnel. Get began now.

Want more insights such as this?

We&#8217re on the pursuit to provide companies like yours sales and marketing tips, methods and state of the art understanding to construct the following house-hold brand name. Don&#8217t miss a publish. Join our weekly e-newsletter.


Ebay &Ecommerce Integrations &omni-channel &omnichannel admin 13 Jul 2017 Comments Off on How 5 Online Companies Already Elevated Revenue As much as 96.44% – Simply By Selling on eBay

The strength of Popup Design: 6 Rules to 10X Your Subscription Rate, as well as an Application to get it done for you personally

There’s two stuff you absolutely Should do being an online shop owner:

  1. Get people to talk to your store.
  2. Try everything inside your capacity to turn individuals visitors into customers.

The previous usually needs a fair slice of money and time, which puts much more emphasis and importance around the latter.

It isn’t enough to simply have quality products along with a good-searching storefront: you have to engage these potential customers and stick out in the competition.

Probably the most common ways online retailers engage customers is by using popups and banners. These on-screen interactions aren’t so not the same as a purchase sign right in front window of the brick-and-mortar store, or perhaps a salesperson asking if you would like to participate their loyalty program.

Popups aren’t a current invention, obviously.

The very first popup ad exhibited to the scene within the mid-’90s, and also, since then internet marketers have considered the downsides of utilizing popups — annoying customers, interrupting consumer experience, even slowing lower page speeds — with the truth that popups are actually, really effective.

How effective?

One study discovered that switching from the sidebar form to some lightbox-style popup design elevated email signups by 1,375%.

One study discovered that switching from the sidebar form to some lightbox-style popup elevated email signups by 1,375%. Another business attempted utilizing a popup to capture email signups and saw a 10x rise in subscription rate.

Whether you’re an admirer or otherwise, using popups is really a guaranteed method of attracting visitors’ attention, whether it’s to gather their email, promote a purchase, or anything else. The ugliest popups generally convert well — and that’s why virtually every website uses them.

While popups aren’t a brand new phenomenon, what’s quite recent may be the development and proliferation more elegant, more manageable popup solutions.

In 2017, furthermore users anticipate seeing popups once they visit websites, but marketers, including online shop proprietors, have tools for creating popups that appear to be great and serve their customers’ interests.

That last point is essential to presenting popups well, and it is something we’ll expand on later within this publish whenever we share some guidelines for implementing popups inside your store.

For the time being, keep in mind that popups must always provide the customer an advantage. Being an online shop owner, should you not possess a mutually advantageous reason behind showing a popup, then it’s most likely not worthwhile.

Should you not possess a mutually advantageous reason behind showing a popup to some customer, then it isn’t worthwhile.

Whenever we designed Pixelpop, our goal ended up being to give online companies a means of doubling lower around the world-class customer experience we’d in your mind whenever we designed all 67 Stencil styles presently within the BigCommerce theme store. We would have liked to assist retailers get the most from everyone who visits their store, whether which means converting them into sales now or collecting email addresses to improve the risk of converting them later on.

Within the finish, we built a popup application that’s incredibly simple to use, which allows any store owner to produce a variety of great-searching popup designs and banners made to engage visitors, boost conversions, and drive sales.

In the last year, we’ve thought a great deal by what this means to produce a winning engagement strategy, in the popup types and options you should think about, to precisely how to fit your popup for your logo and BigCommerce theme.

Within this publish we’ll share what we’ve learned and provide you with the various tools essential to make certain you’re engaging every customer in the easiest way possible.

Get Began Now

Take a look at Pixelpop within the BigCommerce Application Store.

Rule #1. Start collecting emails

If you are already carrying this out, kudos! You’re off and away to an excellent start.

Otherwise, this is the time to include Pixelpop for your store (it requires two seconds) and make an e-mail signup popup. Continue, add some application at this time. We’ll be around whenever you return.

Here’s what it really need to look like before you launch.

pop up window

Why is collecting emails essential? For just one factor, regardless of how great your product or service are, regardless of what deals you’re offering, you’re not going to convert every shopper who visits your store.

The great majority are likely to poke around for any bit, see what you are offering, after which bounce off looking for the following good deal.

While on an email signup popup, you allow your chance at re-engaging individuals visitors and supplying them later on — not only once, but again and again.

And when you’re certainly one of individuals individuals who believe e-mail marketing is dead? Think about this:

  • 66% of internet customers have finished an order because of an advertising and marketing email
  • Email prompts purchases at 3 occasions the speed of social networking
  • 72% of individuals choose to receive marketing content through email (when compared with 17% preferring social networking)

The thing is, if you are not utilizing a popup to gather emails, you’re passing up on a large chance as well as an a great deal larger slice of sales.

In ten minutes, you may create an e-mail signup popup and sync it to MailChimp or Conversio to ensure that signups are instantly put into your subscriber list of preference. If you are using another email company, you may also download a CSV file with collected emails.

ecommerce pop up design

Easily style your pop-up to suit your logo and needs. 

Once the busy shopping periods hit also it becomes much more costly to get traffic, you will be happy to have a summary of customers who understand your logo and products, who one can market to with specialized sales while offering.

Rule #2. Run popups with planned campaigns

Pixelpop supports not only email signups. Actually, it provides 7 popup types as a whole:

  1. Email Signup
  2. Announcement
  3. Page Promotion
  4. Promotion Code
  5. Social Follow
  6. Custom Image
  7. Cookie Disclaimer

Now, you’re clearly not likely to run many of these things at the same time, however, you can select what so when to advertise, and the way to work popups to your various campaigns.

Free Delivery Banners &amp Popups

For instance, should you offer free delivery, it’s usually smart to announce that loud and proud at the very top or bottom from the page. BigCommerce styles provide a built-in banner area that work well with this, nevertheless its personalization is quite limited when compared to diversity of options based on Pixelpop.

how to create popups

You can observe the built-in BigCommerce banner at the end of the aforementioned screenshot.

To produce a shipping banner that actually grabs customers’ attention, you’ll require a solution in the application store. You will find standalone apps focused on this functionality, however with Pixelpop all that you should do is create a comment popup and choose “bar” when choosing your shape.

create a pop up with Pixelpop

The Pixelpop form of a banner on the BigCommerce store. These may switch the out-of-the-box banners. 

Are you able to manage to offer free delivery?

Should you not offer free delivery, you need to take the time to think about if maybe it’s a wise decision for the store. Begin by calculating your average order value within the last couple of several weeks, increase that by 10-20%, and check out offering free delivery on any order over that quantity.

Sales &amp Promotion Banners &amp Popups

Much like free delivery, if you are managing a holiday purchase or other promotion, you’ll wish to make certain visitors learn about it as soon as they find your page.

Utilizing a page promotion popup, you are able to direct visitors to a featured or discounted product page, or perhaps a special bit of content just like a web page or gift guide.

Here’s a good example view as the pop-up is within build mode.

Promotion Code Banners &amp Popups

96% of U.S. shoppers say they appear for and employ coupons.

The promotion code popup can also be well suited for promotions, because it displays a promotion code that visitors may use to obtain a discount at checkout. (And should you not have confidence in coupons, think about the 96% of U.S. shoppers who report using coupons!)

You may create pop-ups that occupy the whole screen, but nonetheless mesh together with your brand. 

Versatility was key whenever we were designing Pixelpop. We would have liked to provide retailers an exciting-in-one tool they might use along with every campaign, whether that meant building their subscriber list, getting good social supporters, or cleaning inventory having a weekend purchase.

If you are doing something for the store, don’t just relax and expect customers to discover more on it. Produce a popup and deliver your message loud and obvious.

Rule #3. Time your popups effectively

Before publishing a popup, evaluate the settings available and make certain each popup is appearing in the best place, in the proper time. Pixelpop offers a variety of scheduling and delay options, that can be used to refine your engagement strategy.

Here’s what that interface appears like:

Scheduling is straightforward enough — select a start and finish date for the popup window to look — but there’s lots of space for finesse with regards to delays.

With Pixelpop, you’ve the selection of several kinds of delays, including page delays (quantity of pages viewed), scroll delays (number of page scrolled), timed delays (period of time allocated to page), and each online marketer’s favorite: exit-intent delays (we’ll explain individuals inside a sec).

Utilizing a slight delay gives prospective customers an opportunity to see what your store is providing before you decide to attempt to sign them up for anything.

Within the situation of sales and special deals, you typically wish to show individuals popups as quickly as possible, meaning not using any delays. However, along with other popups, for example email signups and promotion code offers, it may be easier to postpone for a short time.

Utilizing a page delay of two-5 pages, utilizing a scroll delay of 60-70%, or utilizing a timed delay of 10-20 seconds is a great method of letting these potential customers browse around before requesting email addresses address. Utilizing a slight delay gives prospective customers an opportunity to see what your store is providing before you decide to attempt to sign them up for anything.

Exit-Intent Popups

Delaying a promotion code popup is really a similar method of building incentive, and it is additionally a perfect use situation for that much-ballyhooed exit-intent popup. Should you haven’t heard about these little special gems, essentially they hold back until the final possible moment prior to the customer is going to leave your store, after which pop to the scene in most their conversion-driving glory.

Here’s a good example:

The main reason exit-intent works very well with promotion code popups (and email signups, for instance) happens because you allow the customer all the time for you to get thinking about your product or service without interrupting their experience, after which, as soon as they’re going to leave, you receive a perfect chance to transform them.

Inside a brick-and-mortar world, that might be like getting a clairvoyant sales affiliate you never know just how lengthy to depart the client by themselves before engaging all of them with a deal.

Just how effective are exit-intent delays?

Take into account that the present global cart abandonment rate hovers around 77%. Research has proven that exit-intent offers can recover a substantial slice of lost sales by convincing shoppers to stay around or return later having a special promotion code or e-mail marketing campaign.

Try developing a promotion code popup the same shape as a “full-screen takeover,” enable exit-intent to provide customers a tenPercent discount, and find out what sort of conversion lift you receive.

What Are You Able To Make?

Make use of this free Abandoned Cart Calculator to determine what money you may be making should you could email people to bring them to purchase.

Rule #4. Use advanced targeting for better results

Talking about refining your engagement strategy, you are able to tailor popups for several audience segments. If you wish to only show it to individuals from the certain country, or only on certain pages, or simply to people coming from the certain email campaign — more capacity to you.

There’s lots that you can do with Pixelpop’s targeting options. If you wish to personalize your messaging or offers for various global audiences, or run regional sales based on national holidays (Cinco de Mayo purchase, anybody?), you are able to enable geo-targeting using the “Target by location” option.

Here’s what that interface appears like:

If you wish to highlight a purchase on the individual product, you may create a unique popup that seems only with that product page while using “Target By Page” option.

Again, here’s what that interface appears like:

One impressive method for you to use advanced targeting is by using the “Target By URL/UTM Parameter” option. This means the popup is only going to show to customers coming at the site from the specified URL (or partial URL).

In case your customer is coming from your email or advertising campaign, use a banner or popup to welcome them to your website and reiterate a deal or promote an item they’ve seen before. This results in a more cohesive outcomes of your emails, ads, promotions, etc. as well as your online shop – and frequently increases conversions.

And again, exactly what the interface appears like:

The next time you signal an e-mail for your subscriber list, create an associated popup having a coupon for 10% off like a thanks as a loyal subscriber, and give a UTM parameter which you’ll then paste to your targeting options.

Similarly, if you are running an advertisement having a specific product featured inside it, produce a popup in your store advertising a price reduction with that product, after which fasten a UTM parameter to your ad as well as your popup’s targeting options.

Rule #5. Suit your popups for your theme

Among the best reasons for Pixelpop is its wealthy, easy-to-use popup editor that allows you to select from a variety of popup styles and custom fonts, colors, shapes, sizes, and designs. An active preview enables you to observe how your popup looks inside your store while you edit it, such as the choice to preview what it appears as though on cellular devices and tablets.

Easily personalize your pop-up to fit your site’s theme and branding across all devices.

If you are a Stencil user, all of the better, because now is a great time for you to help remind you that Pixel Union, the ecommerce design agency behind Pixelpop, is identical team that designed all 67 styles presently obtainable in the BigCommerce Theme Store.

What which means is you’re dealing with the identical design ethos that entered creating your BigCommerce storefront. Not just that, but you can get Pixel Union’s customer care team, exactly the same nice folks you’d contact should you ever needed assist with your theme.

If you are a Blueprint user, don’t despair: Pixelpop is fully suitable for all Blueprint styles, and it is versatility makes it simple to improve engagement having a popup that suits your store.

Which Popup Styles to make use of together with your Stencil Theme

With that, choosing the right popup the perception of your store is essential. Take a picture-heavy theme like Geneva or Lookbook, for instance. To enhance its full-width design, you’ll desire a clean, crisp popup that does not diminish your beautiful product photography. A good black or white-colored background, with respect to the tone of the images, is usually a good call.

Around the another hands, if you are using a far more classic, grid-based theme like Foundry or Venture, you may be a little more daring inside your popup design. You’ll still would like it to complement the page’s fonts and colours, but never be afraid to create a popup that grabs the customer’s attention.

Also consider where around the page your popups appear and just how which will affect your theme. If you are using a style like Merchant, with a modal-formed feature area and CTA button designed directly into the slide carousel, avoid modal-formed homepage popups and stay with bars, cards, and full-screen takeovers.

On the other hand, a dual-column theme like Capacity is ideal for a properly designed modal.

Pixelpop’s full-screen editor includes a color picker with hex code support so that you can easily implement your brand’s color plan. Every popup theme also posseses an range of hands-selected font options, so that you can locate one that enhances your theme.

In the finish during the day, you’ll dramatically enhance your customers’ experience and make trust by looking into making sure your popups have an attractive appearance and match the appear and feel of the store.

Rule #6. Follow guidelines for creating popups

Before we sign served by our final call to visit try our popup maker, Pixelpop, (that certain doesn’t count), we thought we’d lay lower a couple of final guidelines or guidelines for implementing popups.

  1. Keep the messaging obvious and succinct. We’re able to easily have incorporated this included in the last rule, as succinct copy offers quite a bit related to good design. Try everything you are able to to prevent getting your copy continue for over a handful of lines. More to the point, make certain your messaging is obvious, engaging, and in line with your brand’s voice. Never be afraid to become funny!
  2. Don’t clutter the page with popups. Would you like to go to a web-based store and discover popup ads appearing everywhere? Well, neither would your clients. Usually, stay with no more than two popups on a page, rather than make use of the same shape two times on one page. Bar-formed popups would be the easiest to pair with a lot more popups.
  3. Integrate having a mailing service like MailChimp or Conversio. Who would like to cope with CSV files and manual imports and exports? Not us. Connect your Email Signup popup to MailChimp or Conversio to possess brand new signups be instantly synced for your subscriber list of preference.
  4. Test drive it, including on mobile. Whatever popup solution you’re using, don’t result in the mistake of publishing a popup without testing it first. Which means double-checking links and checking to determine the way it looks on mobile. Pixelpop’s live preview enables you to see in the actual editor the way it can look on tablet and cell phones, which can help you save a lot of time.
  5. Make certain it meets Google’s mobile-ambiance guidelines. With that, should you didn’t hear, Google folded out some changes to the formula captured with the aim of making the net more friendly to mobile users. Pixelpop’s “Google Mobile-Friendly” setting ensures your popups adhere to these new guidelines, instantly condensing your popups into bars when loaded on cellular devices, which means you don’t need to bother about taking an Search engine optimization hit.
  6. Make certain it provides an advantage towards the customer. We pointed out this near the beginning of the publish, and honestly, it’s the main one suggestion we would like every merchant to bear in mind when designing popups for his or her store. If you are likely to disrupt a visitor’s browsing experience, you need to make certain you’re doing the work in a manner that can make them say “Thanks!” and never “Go away!”

Fortunately, there are numerous methods for you to engage tourists in a mutually advantageous way — supplying a discount or special promotion, letting them know in regards to a product they may like, linking to a bit of content you’ve written to assist them to determine what they’re searching for, and so forth.

In their core, popups are a good way of getting you nearer to your clients — providing you with that which you both want, and making everybody happy.

Get Began Now

Take a look at Pixelpop within the BigCommerce Application Store.

Want more insights such as this?

We&#8217re on the pursuit to provide companies like yours sales and marketing tips, methods and state of the art understanding to construct the following house-hold brand name. Don&#8217t miss a publish. Join our weekly e-newsletter.


Ecommerce Integrations &Ecommerce Marketing admin 03 Jul 2017 Comments Off on The strength of Popup Design: 6 Rules to 10X Your Subscription Rate, as well as an Application to get it done for you personally

How 5 Brands Increased Their Customer Lifetime Value 2X in Under 12 months with Loyalty Programs

Retaining customers isn’t easy, but it’s vital that you provide for companies of each and every size. In the end, the guaranteed manifestation of a proper brand is an increasing number of repeat purchases from already established customers.

The above mentioned is really a screenshot of BigCommerce’s out-of-the-box ecommerce analytics Customer report. You are able to clearly see the amount of new versus. coming back customers. A 50/50 split such as the one above is a superb spot to be for any brand. And you may clearly check this out particular brand is heavily centered on growing coming back customer spend. 

It is because earn internet new clients is costly. It frequently takes advertising to get –– and when it normally won’t return to purchase again, you’re return on ad spend stays steady, instead of growing with time. Additionally, it means your customer lifetime value is low (which decreases just how much you’ll be prepared to invest in advertising –– and therefore will limit your ad visibility).

Growing your customer lifetime value and building lengthy term customer loyalty needs time to work, though. It can’t be produced overnight.

Additionally, it isn’t brain surgery.

Earning elevated repeat business and building customer lifetime value is doable –– and you may start at this time.

First, know that it requires business investment to create LTV a core and measured metric. It should be a part of your general business strategy. This isn’t in regards to a financial investment. No, you have to spend time on building methods to track and measure your LTV with time.

How 5 Brands Made Customer Lifetime Value a company Priority

There are lots of methods to build customer lifetime value, however, let’s define it to make certain many of us are on a single page.

What’s Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)

Customer lifetime value, generally known as LTV or CLV, is really a business metric that estimates the entire foreseeable repeat purchase rate of the customer within the lifetime of time together with your brand.

The greater your brand’s LTV (lifetime value) is, the greater valuable it’s considered on the market. It is because obtaining internet new clients is costly –– and if your customer only purchases of your stuff once, your return on ad spend (ROAS) doesn’t increase with time.

How you can Calculate Customer Lifetime Value

Customer lifetime value informs virtually every business decision, but none of them greater than ad and marketing spend.

First, you have to nail lower the CLV that’ll be your north star. There are many ways to get this done, but more to the point than which method you decide to go with is consistency once that call is created (for additional on by hand calculating CLV, Ometria comes with an excellent tutorial).

If you’re a BigCommerce customer, you should use your Analytics to download after which sort your clients by purchase date.

Easily configure customer lifetime value (LTV) by conveying your customer groups and viewing total devote to your organization on the customer cohort level. You may also get it done by every individual customer.

Even better, if you are a Insights customer, you receive immediate cohort use of customer LTV in a number of reports.

BigCommerce Insights offers 6 LTV reports with easily downloadable cohorts will target ads or emails to improve repeat purchasing rates, or find lookalike customers. 

Should you aren’t using BigCommerce, you may still reach these details with your store analytics tool to download customer purchase and order history, after which match repeat customers. You may want to build your own formula or combine multiple teams of data to access your customer repeat purchase rate.

Using CLV — and Why it Matters

CLV (or LTV) should inform virtually every business decision, but none of them much more than ad spend. The bang you receive for the advertising buck is inextricably associated with how much every customer to create you within the lengthy term — not just their very first time purchasing out of your store.

Whenever you combine LTV along with other metrics like retention rate, customer acquisition cost, churn rate, internet profit and ROAS, you start getting a really obvious picture of you skill to enhance margins.

A minimal average ROAS will influence just how much spent on advertising –– likely meaning you will not have the ability to manage to cause internet new clients at scale over time.

Whenever you spend your company sources with an ad, the aim would be to make certain that ad produces just as much revenue as you possibly can. Here’s a fast method to calculate ROAS:

Gross Revenue from Advertising campaign

ROAS = _______________________

Price of Advertising Campaign

For instance, a business that spends $2,000 with an internet marketing campaign in one month. Within this month, the campaign leads to revenue of $10,000. Therefore, the ROAS is really a ratio of 5 to at least one (or 500%) as $10,000 divided by $2,000 = $5.

Revenue: $10,000

Cost: $2000

ROAS = $5 OR 5:1

For each dollar that the organization spends on its marketing campaign, it produces $5 price of revenue.

Exactly what is a good ROAS?

A suitable ROAS is affected by income, operating expenses, and also the all around health from the business.

While there&#8217s no &#8220right&#8221 answer, a typical ROAS benchmark is really a 4:1 ratio — $4 revenue to $one in ad spend. Cash-strapped start-ups may need greater margins, while online retailers dedicated to growth are able to afford greater advertising costs.

This is when LTV is available in. The greater your LTV is, the reduced your ROAS ratio could be for that short-term (knowning that the ratio increases with time because the customer purchases additional products).

Some companies require an ROAS of 10:1 to be able to stay lucrative, yet others can grow substantially just 3:1. A company are only able to gauge its ROAS goal when it features a defined budget and firm handle on its income.

A sizable margin implies that the company can survive a minimal ROAS smaller sized margins are a sign the company must maintain low advertising costs. An ecommerce store in cases like this must acquire a relatively high ROAS to achieve profitability. Quite simply, for those who have a minimal margin, LTV is much more vital that you your company to have a greater ROAS ratio with time.

Now, let’s check out 5 brands who’re using S Loyalty, among other tools and tactics, to construct customer loyalty and repeat purchases –– two measurements of the healthy LTV.

Get S Loyalty How to Improve Your LTV

Begin using also than 200 online retailers use they are driving customer loyalty and repeat purchases. All-in-one click.

1. How you can Increase CLV &amp LTV inside a Crowded Online Industry

The Cloud Alchemist is really a boutique vapor liquid brand resides in San antonio, WA. They design and convey their very own products, from initial design, lower to laboratory production.

After talking to Trevor Taylor, founding father of The Cloud Alchemist, I found that their customer loyalty strategy is about being friendly and connecting using their customers, as shown because when frequently they engage directly using their people to add value.

“I&#8217ve spoken with individuals concerning the birth of the new child, buying their first house, and losing jobs.

I gave store credit to some customer who&#8217s hard up, sent spare hard disk drives to a person building computers for individuals in need of assistance, as well as traded a t-shirt in return for someone&#8217s home-made jerky.

This isn’t something can fake, you need to be genuine, however the reaction to opening and being human with customers is immeasurable.”

&#8211 Trevor Taylor, Cloud Alchemist

They’re active within their community, taking part in Reddit groups, gatherings, Facebook communities, and much more. Their team is definitely transparent about who they work with where their biases lie. But, getting before prospective customers as frequently as you possibly can helps your brand to appear like a thought leader along with a assistant –– making that customer’s next purchase decision more prone to be around you.

Listed here are a couple of other activities The Cloud Alchemist gives increase customer lifetime value.

Send relevant, transparent emails

A huge part to be engaging has been relevant.

Being relevant doesn’t mean you need to send a personalized and personalized email to each single customer. Rather, this means that people setup your automation streams to deal with people by their given name (in case your form collects it) and prompts these to take an action highly relevant to the experience they’ve just adopted your website.

For example, The Cloud Alchemist team emails new clients following a purchase, encouraging these to evaluate the product for that vape community JuiceDB.

JuiceDB is really a leading community review website for that vape industry, and also the Cloud Alchemist causes it to be obvious to customers their review –– bad or good –– cannot be altered by their team. Rather, the company is devoted to creating sure the very best flavors possess the greatest reviews locally, despite which of them individuals are.

In the end, it will help to teach the whole industry.

Here’s what that email appears like:

A great method for The Cloud Alchemist to obtain feedback, see so what can be improved, improve client satisfaction, as well as gain exposure with public feedback that’s distributed to the city.

Generate a personal touch

With each and every order which goes out, The Cloud Alchemist team features a handwritten thanks message on their own packing slips.

Incorporated alongside stickers, cards, along with other branded products, they take this chance by way of thanking the client personally with this business. In the end, every customer includes a choice, as well as their choice impacts your main point here. When they decide on along with you, particularly in a crowded industry, take that extra key to thank them for his or her some time and prove your persistence for them like a customer. It’ll frequently be came back.

Reward customers for his or her loyalty

The Cloud Alchemist uses S Loyalty for his or her customer loyalty program solution. Similar to their method of personalized emails, for his or her loyalty program, The Cloud Alchemist has switched on storefront notifications to showcase relevant reminders to shoppers concerning the loyalty program because they visit their website.

Enabling notifications helps all of them with more consistent loyalty program engagement and it has elevated engagement outdoors from the segment of users that already engaging using the program.

Here’s what Trevor had to say of it:

“There were a number of customers that religiously used their points because they accrued them (mostly in the $10-20 reward mark), however this year we switched around the email feature to help remind customers that they suggests spend fourteen days after earning enough to redeem.

It’s been my own impression that, since configuring it, we&#8217ve were built with a marked uptick in coming back customers using redeemed rewards and getting individuals orders come through in a more regular as well as pace (versus a inclination to possess &#8220hot&#8221 days where stacks of orders are available in, generally on Fridays/paydays).&#8221

All these customer loyalty strategies builds customer lifetime value for that Cloud Alchemist. This is particularly essential in a crowded industry, where customers have an array of choices with regards to where you can purchase.

Make sure to provide your customers a sense of personalization to ensure that once they buy again, they’re buying of your stuff.

2. How you can Earn LTV Employing a Quality at Quantity Strategy

Super Wigs is really a direct-to-consumer hair piece store. Supplying a large range of styles, sizes, and colours, they’ve among the largest inventories of wigs available on the web.

After I spoken with George Li about how exactly they attracted a loyal following of repeat customers, it immediately grew to become obvious their strategy is about the merchandise.

By delivering great hairpieces at the perfect prices, Super Wigs has produced a fighting pressure inside the wigs industry.

The cash they save having a lean strategy, they spread for their customers. Here’s how it operates.

Affordable prices for increase loyalty

Whenever a new possible client comes to your website, it is best they come in the recommendation of the friend instead of with an ad.


Because social proof is amazingly valuable, and individuals think that brands they’re suggested to are superior to others –– frequently even when they aren’t.

Listed here are a few stats that you should gnaw on:

  • Individuals are 4x more prone to purchase something when suggested with a friend
  • 67% of shoppers customize the brands/companies they obtain to be able to maximize points.

Added each of individuals stats up –– and becoming a loyalty program ready to go for the business often means serious $$$.

Super Wigs implemented a loyalty program 2 year ago. The savings that George can provide through points and rewards encourages customer retention, in addition to referrals, and enables the company to pay attention to delivering the things they’re doing best (selling an excellent product being an affordable cost).

Today, a proper a part of Super Hair Pieces’ subscriber base are loyal, repeat customers –– all with no major marketing campaigns.

3. The way a Niche Brand Makes Gains on Industry-Wide LTV

Swiss Rasoi is definitely an online niche supermarket that sells Indian spices and ingredients. They’re located in Europe and serve the Swiss market with totally free, along with a vast choice of spices and staples required for Indian cuisine.

They’ve produced a colourful brand full of quality images that reflect their product choices –– i.e. Quality ingredients. This brand design is consistent across their online shop, in addition to, their social networking channels, assisting to reinforce a regular, reliable message.

Here’s really are a couple more stats for you personally:

  • 83% of shoppers say loyalty is driven mainly by trust
  • 26% of shoppers mention the terms “trust” and “consistency” being an important component of brand loyalty

Swiss Rasoi offers traditional products delivered right to the doorstep. With added conveniences like totally free, unbeatable prices, and use of hard-to-find ingredients, they’ve produced a brandname where an growing quantity of their clients return to buy more.

Beautiful, resonating content for his or her community

The Swiss community for authentic Indian spices and ingredients may have began like a small niche, but Swiss Rasoi is creating brand recognition through the Swiss food industry. By delivering their color branded images which reflect their choices, they’ve created content that’s immediately recognizable with obvious callouts.

Additionally, each month, Swiss Rasoi hosts flash sales you are able to only find on their own social networking channels –– particularly Facebook.

By providing discounts on their own already low prices, flash sales create an emergency for his or her customers to return, make more purchases, and increase the brand’s overall LTV value.

Using Psychology they are driving Sales

The 6 tactics you should know to create more $$$.

More savings for loyal customers

Additionally to offering their clients savings from offers and flash sales, Swiss Rasoi a loyalty program to provide their finest customers another avenue to save on their own quality ingredients.

When free delivery and occasional costs are standard, offering additional discounts via a loyalty program is one thing extra that Swiss Rasoi can provide to their loyal customers.

The greater you buy the car, the less you have to pay.

4. How you can Experience the strength of Convenience for Elevated LTV

Located in Nj, DBDPet grew to become the biggest dry goods vendor at reptile shows after just 6 years running a business.

It’s a vintage startup story: they began inside a garage with one bearded dragon that laid eggs. Description of how the are expanding beyond a 5,000 sq foot warehouse by breeding exotic creatures, and offering supplies for each type of pet.

DBDPet recognized, however, it had become hard to explain where you can buy supplies for that pets they offered. Today, they strive to become a one-stop look for all reptile supplies while supplying accurate and helpful details about the nurturing and take care of these pets.

For DBDPet, their road to customer loyalty was constructed from their expertise and also the regular flow of recommendation and content they ship to their community.

Offering expert consultancy through social networking

Customers that frequent DBDPet come for that supplies, but stay for that advice and understanding.

Social networking grew to become a means for Buddy and the team to spread their knowledge learned through experience in foreign animals.

They’ve created a continuing stream of content for Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, that are essential to allow them to maintain their current customers engaged, while assisting to achieve brand new ones.

A loyalty program for any one-stop shop

As DBDPet grew to become a 1-stop look for foreign animals, their understanding and expertise grew to become the building blocks of the customer loyalty strategy.

By providing an extensive product range, they focus on every necessity of their clients. You are able to appear at first sight the Amazon . com of uncommon animal supplies –– and everyone knows how loyal Amazon . com shoppers are.

DBDPet utilizes a loyalty program to help encourage people to who their one-stop look for all uncommon animal and pet supply needs.

5. Florida Colors Nursery

Florida Colors Nursery is really a staple within the Plumeria community. Presently offering greater than 1,200 varieties, a few of which are their very own, additionally they concentrate on supplying extensive understanding on growing, grafting, and cultivating Plumeria plants.

I briefly spoken with Tex Norwood, and it is apparent he and the team are fanatics about Plumeria flowers. Their customer loyalty originates from their thought leadership within the shared community around these flowers.

Greater than a 1000 varieties shared on social networking

Alongside multiple qualities about Plumeria, Social Networking is a primary outlet for discussing the gorgeous photos of those plants. Because of so many colors, combinations, shapes, and sizes, each is best looked after just a little differently compared to next.

They’ve built a loyal following by discussing their latest cultivations, while supplying guidelines regarding how to care and them healthy. As a whole, they’ve a large number of supporters inside their community engaged using their Facebook page, community websites, and store.

It’s immediately apparent that Tex and the partners are experts with regards to Plumeria. Customers will find a never-ending bucket of knowledge and understanding to best grow, graft, cultivate, and revel in these flowers.

For their loyalty program, clients are rewarded every time they’re buying, accumulated to keep credit minimizing total cost for that customer (plus great social referrals for that brand).

Final Word

These five stores have another method of customer retention and customer loyalty –– ultimately resulting in elevated LTV –– which proves that there isn’t any one proper way of keeping the customers engaged.

However, the main one factor that many of these share is they offer something which resonates well using their customers.

Whether that’s an abundance of expertise, reasonable prices, or just being passionate and friendly the lesson here’s to deal with your clients well, and they’ll return the favor.

Want more insights such as this?

We&#8217re on the pursuit to provide companies like yours sales and marketing tips, methods and state of the art understanding to construct the following house-hold brand name. Don&#8217t miss a publish. Join our weekly e-newsletter.


customer loyalty &Ecommerce Integrations &Ecommerce Marketing &lifetime value admin 27 Jun 2017 Comments Off on How 5 Brands Increased Their Customer Lifetime Value 2X in Under 12 months with Loyalty Programs

The Complete Comparison Guide Between Your 3 Ecommerce Fulfillment Options: Drop-Shipping, 3PL or Self-Fulfillment

You’ve got a killer product, nailed down your marketing strategy, and are finally getting in front of customers. The orders are rolling in and your business is primed for explosive growth.

That’s it, right?

Not so fast. While product-market fit and user acquisition are undoubtedly crucial to your business, ecommerce fulfillment is the engine that keeps your car running.

Let’s start from the beginning.

What is order fulfillment?

Fulfillment encompasses the entire process of receiving an order and delivering it to a customer. As anyone well-versed in operational ecommerce is aware, this actually encompasses a number of complex steps throughout the supply chain that all play a significant role in how customers perceive your business.

To name only a few of the steps, proper fulfillment requires:

  1. Warehouse organization
  2. Order management
  3. Packaging
  4. Shipping
  5. Customer communication

But you may not have to do some — or all — of those processes in-house.

If you are a medium-sized or growing business, it’s likely that you have begun to investigate order fulfillment services, and might have experimented with one already. While small businesses can often manage their inventory, packing, and shipping, as the operation scales up, additional support is needed and beneficial.

Product fulfillment is the most important artery supporting the overall health of a quickly growing ecommerce business. Understanding what options are out there, how they can help, and which is best for your business is a critical decision-making process.

In this guide, we’ll walk through everything you need to know about three of the most popular strategies:

  1. Drop-shipping
  2. Third-party ecommerce fulfillment
  3. Self-fulfillment

And we’ll look specifically at the following in regards to each of your options:

  • How to define the various industry terms
  • The advantages and disadvantages of each technique
  • For which companies or business models dropshipping makes the most sense (and why)
  • For which companies or business models third-party fulfillment makes the most sense (and why)
  • How to choose an order fulfillment system
  • When it’s time to establish your own product fulfilment and distribution center
  • Next steps for your business right now

The ultimate goal with this guide is that you understand what each fulfillment technique is, when to use it, how it works, and how to get started. You can then select the right solution to take your company to the next level and ultimately sell more. Let’s dive in.

Defining Order Fulfillment Terms

Let’s take a look at how the order fulfillment process works in three common models.


With dropshipping, inventory is not owned before the sale is made.

The seller is a middleman, often never actually seeing or “possessing” the product, but rather focusing on marketing it to customers and making sales.

Once goods are sold, the seller has them shipped directly to the customer from a dedicated dropshipper, or the manufacturer.

Stores that drop ship deal exclusively with marketing and branding, but outsource the logistics of ecommerce, i.e. the fulfillment.

There are a variety of dropshipping types –– and in all of which you, the seller, remain the middleman.

Say you sell furniture that you market through both your website and a brick-and-mortar showroom. With the dropshipping model, every time a customer places an order, you would then place an order with your source.

By doing so, you keep nothing on hand and your profit is made from the difference between your retail price and the price you pay your source for each product (along with any other associated costs).

Here is your profit calculation for this model:

Profit = Retail Price – Price Per Product Bought from Dropshipper

The dropshipping benefit:

It isn’t just startups using dropshipping. Brands like Macy’s and Lord & Taylor use dropshipping from their suppliers to alleviate risk (i.e. the risk of buying too much of a product that just won’t sell).

Dropshipping helps both startups and larger organizations understand what the market wants before committing fully to creating a custom item, or buying in bulk.

Third-Party Fulfillment

With third-party fulfillment, inventory is owned before the sale is made. The seller often purchases or manufactures the product, stores the inventory with the third-party company, and then markets the product in order to sell it.

When an order is processed, the third party (NOT the online store) packages the order and ships it to the customer. Third parties also usually help with COGS and economies of scale.

Let’s continue with the same example of a furniture business. With third-party ecommerce fulfillment, you may still have a website and showroom for marketing, but when a customer places an order, you already have the inventory.

Your third-party logistics provider (3PL) is contacted (this can be automated on your ecommerce platform), and they package the product and ship it to the customer. Your profit will be the remaining difference between the retail price, the price you pay per product, and the fees you pay your third-party provider.

Here is what that looks like:

Profit = Retail Price – Price Per Product – 3PL fees

The 3PL benefit:

Using a 3PL to outsource picking, packing and shipping frees up your time to focus on marketing, finding net new customers, nurturing repeat customers and more.

Brands of all sizes use 3PLs, and most 3PLs integrate directly with ecommerce platform like BigCommerce, so once someone places an order, the system alerts the 3PL to pick, pack and ship –– no manual work on your end needing to be done.

3PLs are best for brands which have their own, unique product (in dropshipping, you are using a supplier’s product), no inventory space and want to focus on acquisition rather than shipping.

Self-Fulfillment & Shipping

With self-fulfillment (or “direct fulfillment”), you own the inventory and fulfill orders yourself — no outside party involved.

Often, a warehouse is leased where pickers and packers handle the orders and a WMS (Warehouse Management Software) is purchased as well. The warehouse usually acts as the distribution center, or “hub” for all of your fulfillment.

In our same furniture business example, you have your own warehouse space for storing inventory and handle fulfilling the orders in-house. You might even use your own workforce to pack and ship items.

In the self-fulfillment model, profit is the difference between your retail price and the costs associated with buying inventory, storing it, and fulfilling orders.

Profit= Retail Price – Inventory Buying – Inventory Storing – Fulfillment costs

The self-fulfillment benefit:

With self-fulfillment, you are in control. For startups, choosing self-fulfillment may save you money (though certainly will cost you in time) as you pick, pack and ship items yourself.

For larger organizations, self-fulfillment gives you control over exactly how your items are picked and packed, and when they are shipped to meet customer expectations.

Brands choosing self-fulfillment are often particular about the delivery experience, which means more control during packing is required.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Each Fulfillment Technique


Although a drop-shipping model creates an easy and inexpensive way to add products to your online store, those same low barriers to entry are a double-edged sword.

This can be a great way to get going, and for efficient operations, can even sustain growth. Understanding the pros and cons before you start is crucial to drop-shipping success.


  • Easy to start: Drop-shippers provide the products and the shipping, so all you need to do is focus on sales.
  • Minimal business development: You’re leveraging the network of your drop-shipper, instead of personally building the relationships with every supplier. Essentially, every new partner allows you to grow by a significantly large number of new products.
  • More products, faster: Growth in ecommerce begins with adding more products to your website. Integrating a drop-shipper’s products with your business is simple and straightforward because all you’re doing is supporting the links and learning the prices—not lining up any other part of the logistics.This allows more people to discover you and increases the number of touchpoints by which interested shoppers can encounter your brand.
  • Affordable: Low overhead makes drop shipping a great starting place for online retailers. All you do is pay for inventory when a sale is made, so you avoid operational expenses like warehousing. Profitability is not guaranteed, though, which we’ll get to in the next section.
  • Test before committing: Since you don’t incur overhead, you can test out the viability of new markets for existing products anywhere you can establish a drop-shipper service.
  • Focus on what you do well: The convenience of a hands-off product fulfillment experience thereby enables businesses to focus on other priorities, which is especially advantageous to new companies.


  • No customization: Drop shipping usually means virtually no support for custom products. To achieve this type of support and customization, your dropshipper would have to function as a warehouse.  Unfortunately, this is not likely unless their margins on custom products were worth the time and effort — in which case, the margins would likely not make sense for you.
  • Lower quality control: Since the seller is removed from the fulfillment process, you’re entrusting your brand’s reputation to another party — while maintaining accountability. Buyers usually don’t think about fulfillment models or drop shippers. If a defective product arrives or there is a miscommunication about the shipment, your customer doesn’t want to hear that it was out of your control; all they care about is the overall experience.
  • Reduced brand power: Your products are produced by others, so it’s more difficult to establish a unique brand. The reduced quality control only increases the risk to your brand.
  • Competitive (dis)advantage: Low barriers to entry mean it’s hard to establish a competitive advantage over other businesses. You’re competing on price, and that can easily become a losing game.
  • Scale: Logistics can become challenging as a business scales up, especially when coordinating with multiple drop-shippers.

Get Started with a Dropshipper Now

  • InventorySource
  • Modalyst
  • AliExpress Dropshipping

Third-Party Ecommerce Fulfillment

Third party fulfillment can provide you with a national or even global footprint of warehouses, allowing you to reach out customers faster while taking advantage of shipping discounts.

However, picking, packing, and storage fees can cut into your profit margin, particularly for slim-margin stores.


  • Inventory can be purchased in bulk in order to improve profit margins.
  • No investment is required for warehouse space/real estate, WMS software, or a workforce to pick and pack orders.
  • There is an added convenience of outsourcing the process to a trusted professional.
  • Shipping discounts can be much better than if you were to negotiate on your own.
    • I.e: Your business ships 5,000 packages per month, but the third-party ecommerce fulfillment company may be handling 150,000 orders per month. They’re going to be able to get better shipping rates with FedEx/UPS than you can alone.


  • Quality can be compromised.
    • You have to do your due diligence: a third-party ecommerce fulfillment company controls your ecommerce business’s final handoff of value to your customers. In other words, they have the opportunity to make or break your customer satisfaction levels, which affects the lifetime value of these customers on your business.

Get Started with a 3PL Now

  • Red Stag Fulfillment 


Self-fulfillment, when done correctly, can add a huge competitive advantage to you store.

The problem is it can be extremely capital intensive, and one needs to think carefully about the location of their warehouse, as well as the time it will take to operate your own logistical process on a day-to-day basis.


  • It offers 100% control of inventory and the pick, pack, and ship process.
  • It can be low-cost when the business is small because you are just paying for shipping (and doing the work yourself).
  • Anyone can do it. You don’t need any contacts (as long as you have space to store products, address labels, and packing resources such as packing slips).
  • For businesses shipping significant volume, negotiated shipping rates through FedEx, UPS, and/or USPS can become a competitive advantage.


  • It is time-consuming. Packing all of the products yourself will take time. As orders increase, this can take up most of your day.
  • It is costly as the business grows and can be very burdensome for a young business. You need the following:
    • Warehouse space
    • Warehouse equipment
    • Additional staff
    • Order fulfillment software requirements

With these pros and cons in mind, let’s look more closely at how each technique works, situations where each is most beneficial, and tips on getting started.

Brands Using the Self-Fulfillment Model

  • Spearmint LOVE
  • Nine Line
  • Man Crates

When Does a Drop-Shipping Model Make Sense?

Being that drop-shipping has a low price of entry and therefore presents a limited amount of risk, it can be a good solution for a lean startup looking to break into a market, or for an established business that wants to test out a new market.

Let’s dig into how this technique can be utilized for companies of your size.

Drop-Shipping for Startups

Let’s say you’re a travel blogger with tens of thousands of followers. A lot of your followers want to get your “swag,” such as hats, t-shirts, and the new travel bag that you designed.

You’re not sure if you want to invest a ton of time and money into a new ecommerce business, but you find an on-demand tee-shirt printer and hat embroiderer who will drop-ship orders for you.

By utilizing them, you can start processing orders and have the drop-shipper print and embroider your products as the orders come in. If orders really take off, great, then you know the idea will work and you can look into ordering your shirts, hats, and whatever new products you want to buy in bulk.

If they don’t take off, then you’re not in a bad position because you haven’t built up an inventory.

Drop-shipping allows you a chance to break into a market, establish your brand, and generate a small amount of income that you can use to fuel bulk purchase orders and eventually increase your profit margins.

It can be a smart tactic for startups, but you should note that this isn’t the same path you’d take if you were an existing company looking to try out a new market.

Use Printful for Custom Swag Drop-Shipping

Create and drop ship custom items on demand.

Drop-Shipping for Existing Companies

Let’s say you run an ecommerce store selling high-quality children’s toys. You’re great at what you do and have earned a very loyal following with your customer base.

Plus, you have a wonderful relationship with your third-party fulfillment provider, which handles all your inventory coming in from suppliers overseas, as well as a few boutique suppliers in the U.S.

You decide that you want to explore other channels that the company can enter with new products. Given the strong customer base your business already has, you decide to test out sales for quality child strollers.

At this point, you could look for a mass supplier for strollers, invest in an initial bulk order, and begin marketing them to test customer interest. However, you are then at risk of losing your investment if the products don’t sell, or at a minimum, tying up cash in a bunch of inventory that sells very slowly.

On the other hand, you could use the “bullets before cannonballs” approach, where you test the waters before going in full-force.

Do this by hiring a drop-shipper and beginning to market the new product lines to test customer interest before investing in the products.

This strategy effectively removes the risk, allowing your established business to remain agile while testing a new market.

Sure, your profit margins may be lower on a per-unit basis, but partnering with a drop-shipper allows you to instantly launch a new product on your online store and test your assumptions before making a big cash investment.

Lando Landis, founder of RockerRags, sells apparel for those seeking a rock-and-roll lifestyle.

Most of his apparel sells for less than $30, but customers were still eager to purchase versions of the classic Pan Am luggage sets.

Rather than tie up several thousand dollars in the Pan Am inventory, Lando established a drop-shipping relationship with the manufacturer to handle the order fulfillment for the Pan Am merchandise.

 As Lando explained,

“This ended up being a great move because demand for the Pan Am product line tends to be pretty cyclical. Around the holidays it spikes, and sometimes in the spring. Because of the drop-shipper, I don’t have to worry about allocating cash to buy inventory up front but I still get the advantages of offering the products for sale online.”

How to Land Your Drop-Shipping Partnership

Dave Hermansen, who operates StoreCoach, helps businesses and entrepreneurs establish and operate their online stores.

Dave operates nearly 60 independent stores of his own, 80% of which utilize drop-shipping fulfillment to some extent.

Dave has the following tips:

  1. Find the top ranking specialty store for the product you want to drop-ship: Do research on the Google search volume for these products and the top selling brands, to better understand what opportunity exists if you were to acquire a small % of total search volume and sales.
  2. Go to the root: Use Google to find the manufacturer for the product/brand. Most of the time the brand and the manufacturing company use the same name, (think Sony products and Sony manufacturing) but other times things may be less obvious. A simple (or advanced) Google search is the best place to start. You want to find the company who owns the manufacturing process of the products you want to sell, and then get the contact information for their sales team. Cross-referencing the manufacturer’s company name with Linkedin is an easy way to accomplish this.
  3. Engage with the Sales Team, but leave out all mention of drop-shipping at first: The reality is manufacturers are bombarded with drop-shipping requests every week. Dave suggests intentionally leaving out all mention of drop-shipping at first. Instead, once you’ve developed a relationship with the sales rep, use a phrase like this:
    • “..we really want to add your brand to our store, but we want to see what products sells best for your product line… Do you mind if the manufacturer ships direct for the first 90 days, as we test out the new product line…?”
  4. Sometimes the manufacturer will refuse, if so, ask for the contact details for their 2-3 largest distributors: Then, use this information to repeat step 3.
    • Often times, dealing with a distributor can be more advantageous than dealing with the manufacturer because distributors likely deal with multiple brands, giving you an even wider opportunity to add products via a drop-shiping model to your store!

A Drop-Shipping Drawback for Larger Brands

There comes a point in the life of every business where customers take a risk on a new idea because of your brand. You’ve got a lot of existing, loyal customers who will hold anything new to your old standards of quality and care.

One concern with drop-shipping for established businesses is that you’re handing control of your products and customer service over to another company. This will limit your ability to brand an offer and may ultimately cut against your larger marketing efforts if your next product is an extension of an existing line.

Drop-shipping can cause this to get away from you because you’re sourcing and selling from multiple warehouses, which could cause inventory shortages. Plus, you’re no longer sticking to your branding; you’re selling something that any other company can partner with your drop-shipper to sell.

We often hear larger companies pitched about using drop-shipping when they want to expand and test a new market. It is cheaper than creating deals, but you ultimately are trading in name recognition for early, low-margin sales.

Every ecommerce brand knows that good reviews sell. If you look through your highest-rated reviews and find mentions not only of your products, but also your customer service teams and shipping times, drop-shipping may take away what your customers have come to appreciate and expect.

3 Chief Drop-Ship Considerations

So what can you expect when hiring a drop-shipper? Here are a few of the common practices.

1) Predefined Product Selection

Each drop-shipper will give you a list of products that you can sell based on their manufacturing partners. Exclusive are sometimes available, but opportunities tend to be limited.

Drop-shippers should tell you the minimum price you can set for a product (when set by the manufacturer), which will allow you to make some revenue off of each sale.

2) Drop-Ship Fee

There is a standard fee in the industry, which is typically charged on a per-item basis to cover the drop-shipper’s costs for packing and shipping an item. The amount typically ranges from $2 to $5, but can be higher, depending on the type of product.

Fees can be paid as soon as an order is placed, or within a certain time frame set out in your invoice terms.

3) Minimum Monthly Order

Many drop-shippers require a minimum amount on your initial order to weed out the less serious customers. For example, you may encounter a $200 minimum order when your product only costs $50.

This is normal.

You can simply deposit the minimum amount, and it will be a credit in your account.

What to Look for in a Drop-Shipper

When choosing a drop-shipper, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

  • If you know which product you want to sell, contact the manufacturer directly and ask for their wholesale distributors. Then, contact the distributors on the list and ask if they drop-ship.
  • Look for up-to-date technology such as a thorough online catalog, real-time inventory management, online searchable purchase history, and the like. These will help to enable a seamless experience for you and your customers.
  • Ask how they process orders. It’s very convenient to place orders by email. However, some providers are limited to taking orders over the phone or strictly through the website. Depending on your level of order automation, you’ll likely want to find a drop-shipper that can match or enhance your ordering process.
  • Good location is important. The distance your drop-shipper is from your customers will affect delivery time and their satisfaction levels.
  • Look for good customer support. It is best if you have your own customer service representative assigned to you and any issues you may have.

In summary, drop-shipping is a low-risk technique that is good for breaking into new markets. As you saw in both the examples, it can lead you to the place where it makes sense to invest in bulk purchasing. When that happens, third-party ecommerce fulfillment can help.

When to Partner with a Third-Party Fulfillment Company

Understanding when and how to choose a fulfillment solution partner are critical steps to a successful online business.

Take the story of Craig Rabin, the inventor of The AirHook, who was astonished when his innovative airline cup and electronics holder took off on KickStarter faster than a jet plane.

His $15,000 goal was fully reached in 73 hours, and within 30 days, over $78,000 worth of orders had been placed!

These are great problems to have, but problems nonetheless.

With so many orders placed, the question of how Craig was single-handedly going to fulfill over 4,000 orders to his eager customers became a primary concern.

With the daunting task of over 4,000 orders to be fulfilled, Craig partnered with a fulfillment specialist in the eastern part of the country to complement his location in Seattle, Washington.

Craig explained:

“the fulfillment company was a huge help with the massive number of orders placed on KickStarter, but once those orders were fulfilled, I realized that having only one product (in five different colors), along with smaller quantities of orders streaming in after the KickStarter campaign, it was fairly easy for me to handle most of the fulfillment on my own.”

Now Craig leverages his fulfillment partner for other benefits, such as the discounted shipping rates for international shipments, or spikes in order volume.

“My 3PL was able to provide significantly better international shipping rates, so they handle all non-domestic orders, and sometimes international orders if volume spikes,” Craig said.

While AirHook’s surge in KickStarter orders is a great problem to be dealing with, it’s critical for growing and established brands to understand what core competencies are driving their business growth, and to ensure that your company is able to focus on those functions that will continue to “move the needle” for your online store

Having a dependable fulfillment partner, either a supplement to your drop shipping or self-fulfillment operations, or to handle your order fulfillment altogether, is a great way to ensure that your time is spent on those core competencies. Let’s take a closer look at when it’s a good idea to partner with a 3PL and the factors you should consider when choosing one.

  1. If you are a growing startup that’s finally hit enough buyers to outgrow storing and shipping products out of your mom’s basement (congrats!), it’s a good time to turn to a 3PL.
  2. If you are an existing small- to mid-size established business (with online revenue in the high seven or low eight figures) and your distribution network is not a core competency, 3PL will also be helpful.

Choosing a 3PL means not having to deal with the major financial and logistical demands that come with fulfillment. Instead of investing in forklifts and other expensive, constantly depreciating equipment, you can focus on growing your marketing exposure.

You won’t need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars annually on warehouse space, employees that present liability, and expensive software, but can instead focus on existing product design and testing.

A 3PL is a surefire way to loosen up cash flow back into more important functions that increase your revenue in the long run.

How Third-Party Fulfillment Providers Work

Billing from one provider to the next may vary greatly, but they generally will include the following fulfillment operations and billing charges.

Fulfillment Operations

The invoice that a 3PL sends you might list a dozen separate charges, but most of them tend to fall into one of three broad categories.

1. Receiving Fees

Receiving fees cover the cost of (drumroll, please) receiving containers full of products that need to be properly inventoried. They can be assessed in a number of ways. You may be charged:

  • An hourly labor fee to unload a container
  • A flat fee for the task
  • By the pallet, box, or even item

If you sell small items like iPhone cover cases, getting charged by the item (even if it’s something piddling like $0.25) might end up being much more expensive than simply paying a flat fee to unload a whole container full of them. You’ll have to do the math and factor in the volume you sell to determine which rate makes the most sense for you.

2. Storage

The other major fee—and this can be a big one—is for storage. Some companies charge by the pallet, while others go by the cubic foot. It’s also good to know that prices can fluctuate throughout the year.

Amazon, for example, is known for charging more for storage in the peak holiday shopping season, between October and January; other 3PLs have followed this demand-based model and have higher prices for storing inventory when there’s less available space in warehouses.

3. Picking

A lot of time goes into finding one particular product in a warehouse that may be the size of 10 football fields (or more), and it still needs to be shuttled over and packed after it’s found. That’s why a common fee charged by 3PL providers is for picking a product off the shelf and running it over to the packing station.

Again, the pricing model itself may vary.

While some companies may charge you a flat per-item fee, others might charge extra if an item is over a certain weight limit or is especially fragile, since heavier or delicate items require extra labor to ensure proper handling.

4. Packing

Once the package has been removed from its shelf in inventory, it goes to the packing stage. Some 3PLs include packing as part of their picking services. Others charge additional fees for basic packing supplies like boxes and padding.

Make sure to ask about what sort of packaging your partner uses.

Envelopes weigh less and take up less space than cardboard boxes, but sacrifice security in the process. Some of your products might involve kitting, such as combining three SKUs into one box.

When that happens, a 3PL might charge you a small fee to cover the extra labor involved. Additional packing-related charges include fulfillment fees, order insert fees, and outbound shipping fees (more on shipping fees below).

5. Shipping Rates

One of the major advantages offered by 3PLs is the discounted rate for shipping, which is passed on to clients.

Chances are your business isn’t moving the same volume of goods as an entire fulfillment warehouse, so it’s beneficial to let a 3PL take control of your operation and pass along those savings to you.

Instead of going directly to UPS or FedEx, letting the 3PL negotiate rates for you can save you a hefty chunk of change, particularly if your volume is not at a level where it’s a negotiating asset for you with the carriers.

3PL’s can also help you secure discounted freight shipments, both from the port to the fulfilment house, better DIM weight factors, and for international shipments.

Once you begin to shop around and compare providers, you’ll find that different providers cater to different needs. For example, check out these niche ecommerce fulfillment services.

6. Niche Fulfillment Services

One of the best ways to identify a successful fulfillment partner is to look for a fulfillment warehouse that specializes in your product type’s niche.

  • Do all of your products contain a lithium-ion battery, thus making them fall under a hazmat classification?
  • Are you shipping mostly small, lightweight bi-fold wallets?
  • Or large electronics?

As you can imagine, the pick, pack, and ship operations for an online store selling t-shirts is going to look and operate very differently than a warehouse picking and shipping boxed furniture. If your products fall under a hazmat classification, it can be especially important to find a fulfillment partner who can ensure that your shipments don’t break any laws.

For example, companies like Printful specialize in on-demand printing and fulfillment of posters, apparel, and accessories.

If you already have your apparel printed and ready to distribute, Whiplash Fulfillment is a perfect match, particularly with their low USPS rates for those lightweight packages.

On the other end of the spectrum, Red Stag Fulfillment specializes in ecommerce stores with an average parcel weight greater than 5 pounds and hazmat products that ship via FedEx or UPS.

By identifying a fulfillment provider that fits your niche, your business can not only save a significant amount of money with tailored shipping discounts, but can also avoid major headaches down the road, and even legal liabilities such as hazmat compliance.

7. Location of Your Fulfillment Partner

Another critical but often overlooked question is choosing the location of your fulfillment center. In order to keep shipping costs down, it’s best to choose a provider that is strategically located near your customers.

This is great for smaller shops with relatively concentrated (geographically) customers, but for larger shops who ship products across the country, your outbound shipping information likely mirrors the general populous of the U.S.

Let’s say you live and operate your ecommerce store from Miami Florida. One of the worst things you can do is limit your search for a drop-shipper, your own warehouse space, or a 3rd party fulfillment partner, to only the Miami, FL area.

Besides having some pretty expensive land, Miami is located in a far corner of the country meaning your parcels are going to take longer, and cost more to reach your customer’s addresses.

If your volume is high enough, another factor to consider is sales tax nexus. Most states add on sales tax based on the destination of the items you ship, but there are a few exceptions

Notably, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Montana don’t levy sales tax on remote sellers (neither does Alaska, but it goes without saying that you probably want to have your logistics HQ somewhere in the lower 48).

Those states offer close proximity to major populations centers on the East Coast, West Coast, and Upper Midwest.

Lastly, on the subject of location, there’s no rule saying that your entire fulfillment operation has to be centered in just one place. If you have about equal demand on both sides of the country or in both the Far East and Europe — it’s sensible to stock your items in multiple locations.

With this understanding of the structure of 3PLs and how they work, here’s some advice on what to look for in potential providers.

Interview Questions for 3PLs

The provider you choose will determine the quality experienced by your customers, which is vital to the success of your business.

Being so, a lengthy interview process should be the norm. Here are 20 questions to ask your potential fulfillment partner during the interview process:

  1. Removing price from the equation, why does your company stand out from the competition?
  2. What sort of new technology have you introduced in the last year, and has it enhanced processes?
  3. How does your employee turnover compare to industry levels, and what do you do to ensure a secure, productive, and safe environment? Do you offer incentives for high performance?
  4. What sort of plans do you have in place for peak-demand scenarios such as Black Friday or other major product rushes?
  5. Do you have compliance and KPI reporting that allows us to view shipping in real time?
  6. How do you deal with freight claims, returns, and other less-than-ideal outcomes?
  7. If there was a natural disaster, power outage, software hack, or other major disruption, how would your company react?
  8. How do you coordinate with freight companies to manage shipping and account for lost or damage claims?
  9. Can you provide references from clients with a similar business profile/history?
  10. How many current customers do you have, how many warehouses (and where are they), and who’s on the executive team?
  11. Which shipping carriers do you work with? Do you handle international shipping? What are your rates?
  12. What fees do you charge? What about the “hidden” ones?
  13. Do you have in-house IT and hardware repair specialists to make sure all software and equipment is running smoothly?
  14. When is your cut-off time? What about operating hours?
  15. What sort of value-added services, such as kitting and SKU management, do you offer?
  16. What software do you use for inventory management purposes, and can you integrate on the back end of my company’s ecommerce platform? (Magento, SquareSpace, Shopify, etc.)
  17. Do I sign a month-to-month contract or is it long-term?
  18. How much of the U.S. can you reach within two days via ground shipping? Three days?
  19. Do you provide email notifications to customers when an item has shipped?
  20. Can you guarantee that you won’t ever be responsible for delayed, damaged, or lost items?

Download The Questionnaire

If you’d like a thorough questionnaire, here’s a helpful printable resource.

Once you have the answers to these questions, analyze whether the provider looks like a good option. If they do, it would be wise to visit the fulfillment facility and see it for yourself.

Also, it can’t hurt to do a split test. Ask for a 30-day trial period with two, or even three different fulfillment centers so you can compare them head-to-head and decide which one is best for your business.

By following these guidelines, businesses will be able to find a 3PL that helps their business scale up, improve profit margins, and deliver high-quality products to their customers.

While a 3PL is the right solution for many businesses, there are some cases where establishing your own product distribution may be advantageous. Let’s take a closer look at what is involved in this third technique and when it’s a good idea.

When to Establish Your Own Product Distribution

The reality is, your target market may not leave drop-shipping or a third-party fulfillment partnership as viable options.

If your ecommerce store sells high-end, one-off, leather briefcases with custom lining, unique pocket placements, and tailored embroidery, then your business model is simply not suited for sending pallets of your product off to a fulfillment warehouse.

When Kayde Johnson-Anderson first founded LaBu, her goal was to create a successful side business, selling handcrafted jewelry and home goods.

Like many other startups, Kayde set up her fulfillment operation from her home in California in order to have easy access to photographing new products being added to the store and to be able to ensure adequate packaging for her first orders.

While Kayde has recently gone full-time operating and growing the online store, she knows she’s not quite to the point where hiring her first full-time employee to handle the pick, pack, and ship operations is a worthwhile investment.

Black n Bianco, an online store selling children’s formal wear, started out as a retail store in California before launching its BigCommerce shop online.

When sales began to fall for the brick-and-mortar storefront, the Black n Bianco team decided to focus on developing the company’s online presence by expanding to multiple sales channels and marketplaces, including Sears, eBay, and Kmart.

Robert, the company’s web manager, explained that:

“managing the inventory of a brick-and-mortar store, along with the retail store, meant that we had most of the assets (including two full-time employees to handle picking and packing) in place to handle our own fulfillment. That said, using order fulfillment software tools like ChannelAdvisor to manage inventory across multiple platforms was a critical feature we were missing.

As businesses grow, many companies choose to vertically integrate their operations with a desire to cut costs and maintain a higher level of control over processes. This can be a great business decision for a company, but with a capital-intensive investment such as an in-house fulfillment operation, businesses should wholly evaluate the total cost of such an endeavor.

Understanding which online businesses benefit from a fulfillment partner, versus keeping operations in-house, is a critical evaluation step that should be thoroughly carried out before buying warehouse space. Let’s take a look at some of the issues that could be faced starting your own in-house fulfillment operation.

Understanding the Costs of Self-Fulfillment: Both Financial & Time

For bigger businesses looking to establish their own fulfillment operation (also called “direct order fulfillment”), the sheer number of costs and new liabilities can be overwhelming when setting up your own fulfillment center.

Below, we’ve outlined some of the primary consideration to look into.

Land & Warehouse Space

Rental Rate: $4 to $14 (per sq. ft.)

Besides the base square footage cost, the term length of your lease contract is another primary issue to consider.

Tax implications

Having a physical presence may change your requirement to charge sales tax to your customers. See the BigCommerce guide on ecommerce sales taxes for more information on navigating the spider web of state taxes.


If your ecommerce store is purchasing or leasing warehouse space, chances are you’re looking in your immediate area. Check back to our earlier section, Location of Your Fulfillment Partner, for a guide on how to evaluate the best location for your product distribution.

It’s also fairly unlikely that you’ll have multiple warehouses of your own, at least at first. If you’re located on one of the coasts or one extreme corner of the country, you need to weight the increased cost of shipping your orders to customers further away, as well as the extended time it may take for your customers to receive an order. Ask yourself, “How valuable is being able to reach all of my customers in two days?”

Operational Capital Expenditures

  • Pallet Racking: $50 to $80 per pallet position (not including installation)
  • Forklifts: $800 to $1,100 per Month
  • Trailer loading docks: $250,000 per Dock
  • Conveyors: Belted ($150 to $200 per foot), Gravity ($50 to $120 per foot.)
  • Computers/Tablets/Phones: (for integration with new warehouse management software) $1,000+


Figuring out what software tools are needed to plug in with your BigCommerce store and manage with warehouse operations can be a daunting task.

Platforms such as ShipHero can be a lifesaver versus the time and expense of trying to create your own software program. Furthermore, software solutions such as Skubana and ShipStation are a great if you need to consolidate orders from multiple storefronts or marketplaces, or sync availability with a drop-shipper or third-party fulfillment partner.

Other apps, such as AfterShip, can be a lifesaver by passing all parcel tracking information along to your customers.

The necessary software solutions exist in the BigCommerce App store. Sure, there’s usually a monthly or per-order cost associated with each one, but the real cost to consider is the day-to-day managing of integrations between multiple apps, your storefront, and your customers, which in itself can create a need for a new full-time tech guru at your company.


How easy will it be for you to hire and train (plus training materials and SOP documentation) a workforce to run your warehouse? You may only need two or three additional people, but depending on the size of your existing workforce, an increase in headcount could have other implications on your business.


If you’re going to be hiring new people, you need to have a plan in place to deal with seasonality, particularly around the holidays.

Shipping Rate Discounts with Carriers

Negotiating your own shipping discounts can be a hard mountain to climb, but once established, these discounts can serve as a competitive advantage and even an additional profit center for your business.

The primary factor when weighing your negotiating power is your monthly order volume

The more you ship, the more negotiating power you’ll have with carriers. A secondary factor is the weight distribution of your volume.

If the majority of your outbound parcels are within a 5-pound weight bracket, this concentration of volume can help you earn the best discounts where it will save you the most money. Keep in mind that thanks to the ongoing changes to dimensional weight, your 3-pound container of protein may actually end up being billed at 7 or 8 pounds.

On the other hand, for businesses who have low volume, or whose volume is spread thin across the weight tables, a profitable ecommerce shipping strategy may be hard to establish.

Changes to Core Competency

The biggest question to ask is,

“Will setting up my own fulfillment operation give me a unique competitive advantage?”

Going back to Craig Rabin’s example with the launch of The AirHook, when your ecommerce store hits it big and sees a massive uptick in orders, it’s critical that you take advantage of this positive trend and fulfill orders in such a way that your customers’ expectations are exceeded (or, at a minimum, met), in order to ensure a continued relationship with these customers.

Often, this means offering free two-day shipping, with orders shipped on the same day, 100% perfectly picked orders, and fast return processing.

For most ecommerce stores, these areas of focus are outside the core competencies that created the growth in order volume in the first place. Since The AirHook only sells a single product in a handful of different colors, Craig is able to manage the month-to-month domestic order fulfillment following the KickStarter surge.

But for ecommerce stores with hundreds or even thousands of SKUs, a valuable third-party fulfillment provider is a critical partnership to have to ensure that your time is spent handling the primary drivers of your business, such as growing your online traffic, or carrying out innovative new marketing tactics.

Final Word

Now that you understand the three main options for ecommerce fulfillment — including when to use them and how to get started — you’re ready to take a look at your business and decide which is the best fit.

The first step is to understand what your goals are if you’re evaluating a new fulfillment technique.

  • Are you looking to improve your warehouse/pick, pack, ship efficiency?
  • Are you looking to save on shipping cost?
  • Are you looking to expand your product offerings?

Also, understand what stage your business is in, and where you hope a new order fulfillment model will help to evolve.

  • Are you a startup on a lean budget looking to start making sales? Or an established business that wants to test out a new market?
    • Is your goal to grow your business over the next 5 years and then sell the company? Or are you long-term focused and looking to find a fulfilment partner that can enable your company to grow for decades?
  • For medium-sized businesses that already have demand for their products or services and have the capital to invest in inventory, 3PLs are a great fit. You can outsource all of the hassle to experts, increase your profit margins, and focus on the parts of your business that will impact your bottom line the most.
  • Lastly, if your online store specializes in high-end speciality items, self-fulfillment is often the way to go. Just understand all that’s involved from a time and capital perspective before committing to this model.

The right solution for you is going to depend on what type of product or services you are selling and where your business is in its development.

Keep this guide on hand to refer back to and identify the right technique based on your unique situation. If you have any questions, send them over in the comments section below.

Order fulfillment is a truly integrated part of your supply chain that all other business aspects depend on, so choose wisely!

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3pl &dropshipping &Ecommerce Integrations &fulfillment &Shipping & Fulfillment admin 18 Jun 2017 Comments Off on The Complete Comparison Guide Between Your 3 Ecommerce Fulfillment Options: Drop-Shipping, 3PL or Self-Fulfillment

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