Postal Service Plays A Role In One-Third of Ecommerce Deliveries

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By Jake Novick, Senior Research Associate, StellaService

The U.S. Postal Service plays a much bigger role in the success of ecommerce than many industry watchers realize.

While the Postal Service remains in the scrutiny of the public eye – posting $2 billion in losses last quarter alone — there is a bit of a bright spot that may foretell its place in the future – carrying packages the last mile for the larger carriers like UPS and FedEx. As ecommerce continues to balloon, getting parcels to customers’ doors in a timely manner has become vital component to a great shopping experience.

In the past, we have highlighted some retailers who are using carrier service upgrades to ensure speedy delivery to all regions of the country regardless of the location of distribution centers. However, less attention has been paid to the role of the USPS, which some view as a relic of ecommerce delivery. At first glance you might be right – StellaService data indicates that only …

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Consider These 3 Ecommerce Customer Service Holiday Stats

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The ecommerce world is busy preparing for the 2014 holiday rush. To get a better understanding of shopper expectations this holiday shopping season, we conducted a survey of 500 respondents from August 8 to 15, 2014 using Google Consumer Surveys.

The results are in, and here are a few points to consider when planning for the holiday deluge:

  • Just 5% of shoppers say they’ll return to shop from a company that gave them bad service during the holidays
  • 49% of respondents are likely or very likely to buy online and pick up in store this holiday season
  • 53% of respondents said that Email is the preferred communication channel during the holidays, with phone coming in second (28%)

This is a snapshot of the survey results. Stay tuned as we’ll be diving in and looking at the results by age, gender and geographic region of the U.S., and stacking those results up against the true performance data of the largest retailers.

To get the complete results, join us August 26 for a live …

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Customer Service Is Major Blind Spot for CMOs

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Jordy Leiser is Co-founder and CEO of StellaService.

Your marketing team has planned a blowout launch party. You’ve shot glossy product photos and unveiled an awesome ad campaign. Your website is open for business.

But after all this hard work, does your CMO know what it’s truly like to be a customer of your company? Does the CMO know the concerns your customers are voicing directly to the customer service department on a daily basis? Does she know what your packages look like when they arrive at the customer’s door?

Many CMOs and marketing leaders don’t have direct knowledge of how service is being delivered to the customer, and they possess a significant lack of understanding of how the brand message they’ve painstakingly crafted is translating to customers in their everyday interactions.

In today’s fast-moving digital era of instant gratification and expectation, the idea that a marketer does not have a thorough knowledge of how the brand …

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For Breakable Big-Screens, No Two Retailers Ship Alike

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We’ve explored the challenges of shipping breakable items on a small scale, but in order to get a better understanding of how retailers are handling larger, higher priced shipments, Stella conducted a new study in May in which our Analysts placed orders for 50″ to 55″ Vizio Flatscreen TVs from 5 major retailers.

No two deliveries in the study were created alike. And, not all TVs arrived intact. Stella Analysts found that even when retailers shipped these items in the manufacturer’s box, packaging materials varied from retailer to retailer, which begs the question: if it’s the same item, made by the same manufacturer, shipped in the manufacturer’s box, why would the out-of-box experience differ?

Retailers looking for a better price with wholesalers often negotiate cost with the materials used for packaging. It’s tricky, as retailers try to hold to packaging standards while keeping the economics in order. Of course, it is in the best interest of the retailer to …

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11 Resources to Get Your Customer Service Teams In Shape

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Is your ecommerce customer service team adequately prepared for the ever increasing amount of consumers shopping online?

The fact that in-store shopping is on the decline certainly isn’t news to anyone in retail. But, new data shows that the migration from in-store to online is happening faster than expected.

Consumer spending in the U.S. experienced a small uptick (0.4%) in June, but as reported by the Wall Street Journal, in-store visits declined by nearly 7% in June and 5% in July.

The data comes from Shoppertrak, a firm that measures in store traffic through tracking devices installed in 40,000 locations in the U.S.

For many retailers this means continued store closures, scaled-back plans for store openings, and a transformation of existing physical stores into distribution centers.

It’s a time of great transition that is felt by retailer and customer alike. There will inevitably be bumps along the way, and delivering consistent and efficient customer service will be …

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Fab Dishes Discount After Accidental Kitten Mail

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What’s the purrrfect way to say I’m sorry?

Storewide discounts.

On August 3, Fab sent an email to customers with the subject line “[TEST] PM Tracking Test.” The content inside the email? A kitten photo. Just a kitten photo.

Fab mistakenly sent out a test email. Fortunately, it was a cute one. Later that day customers received another email from Fab. This one was still cute, but also apologetic.

The subject line said “Meow. Our goof is your gain. Additional 10% off today only.”

Yes, it was a bit of a blunder that seems to have gone out to Fab’s customers base. But, rather than ignore the issue, Fab turned it into an opportunity to delight customers. What’s more, the retailer made an effort to let its customers know that the issue wasn’t ignored.

The apology email said, “On a serious note, please know that we sent this cat email unintentionally and are taking steps to ensure that this doesn’t happen again. Ok, enough from us. Happy weekend and happy …

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Stella Benchmarks: J.Crew Leads the Rankings With Best Phone Support

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J.Crew’s website has a “What we’re known for” section that specifically calls out design, styling and philanthropy. It may be time to add customer service to the list.

J.Crew topped Stella Benchmarks in June, providing the overall best customer service of the 130 companies included. The retailer last topped the rankings in January, but is one of only six companies to remain within the top 25 since the beginning of the year.

Phone support was a bright spot for J.Crew, as the retailer also topped that specific service area. Additionally, the retailer ranked 10th in email support and 12th in Returns.

Stella Benchmarks includes companies evaluated on a daily basis by StellaService. Customer care channels – Phone, Email and Chat – are measured daily, while fulfillment metrics are measured across multiple orders each month.

Nine companies not included in the previous month’s rankings earned a spot in the Top 25 Overall in June – Apple, Gap, Kate Spade, Room and …

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GameStop Shaves Minutes Off Average Hold Time, Beating Competitors

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Kevon Hills is Vice President of Research at StellaService.

Since EB Games and FuncoLand shut their doors, GameStop has enjoyed being the only player in the video game space. Big box retailers have always been in the business of selling new video games, as well as manufacturers like Sony and Microsoft. But recently companies like Walmart and Best Buy are allowing customers to buy, sell and trade used games, further infringing on GameStop’s territory as the single source for all things video games.

GameStop is great at engaging customers in-store as its associates are typically experts in the latest games and devices. When GameStop launched its ecommerce site along with a customer service team, gamers must have been excited to have continuous access to their knowledgeable associates away from the store. However, GameStop’s speed of answer on the phone forced gamers to make a decision on which retailer to go to for answers.

From the start of the second quarter of 2013 through the …

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These Qualities Make Great Customer Service Representatives

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In a matter of weeks, many customer service departments will start staffing for what is expected to be the busiest holiday season ever for online retailers.

AOL Jobs recently asked StellaService Client Development Manager Chris Vodola what it takes to be a customer service rep in the digital era.

Vodola has more than 15 years of customer care operational experience and has led teams within several consumer goods organizations including The Estée Lauder Companies, Nestlé Waters and Colgate-Palmolive. He joined the StellaService team from Bluefly.com, where he served as Director of Customer Service and Operations.

See Vodola’s tips for prospective CSRs below.

What skills do you need?

A career in customer service is not for everyone. It’s about listening, empathizing, seeking to understand problems and having the ability to find solutions. More important than that is genuinely enjoying that process. The only basic requirements for a new entry-level hire are being likable …

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3 Retailers That Provide Delivery Estimates Shoppers Can Trust

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Last week on Happy Customer we discussed the concept of Order Life Cycle. This week, we’ll hone in on the first half of that cycle: Delivery. And not just speed, but how retailers go about setting expectations for the timing of those deliveries.

In addition to various speed metrics around fulfillment and transit of packages, StellaService Analysts collect and compile data regarding how retailers set delivery expectations. After placing orders, analysts evaluate communications sent to determine whether or not retailers provide delivery estimates. From there, they can be categorized as Specific Date or Date Range Estimates, and each order placed is measured against the provided estimate to determine accuracy and timeliness.

After placing tens of thousands of orders over the years, we’ve seen it all. Delivery estimates from online retailers come in many shapes and sizes:

  • “You will receive your item in 4-7 business days”
  • “Estimated Delivery: 7/28-8/2”
  • “Your item will …

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