Ready to scale your business in 2022? From warehouse logistics to managing employees to providing world-class customer service. Whether you are a one-person shop or a 1000 person company, Brian Burke from SellYourMac.com gives us the lowdown on scaling your eCommerce business.
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As your business grows, how do we make milestone decisions?
Whatever you do, do not forget about your customers. They are the lifeblood of your company. Whether you are a one-person shop or a 1000 person company, you always have to be caring for your customers the same way you do when you’re a startup.
That means responding to them quickly and taking care of their needs. When you do that, they’re going to be raving fans, spread the word about your business, and shout about you on social media.
If you don’t take care of them, you’re going to have terrible reviews, which will hurt your business and revenue.
When is the right time to hire customer service agents? Did you hire before you thought you were going to need them?
You definitely need to hire ahead of the need.
We’re using real people at our office. We’re not outsourcing to a call center, so these people have really intimate knowledge about everything going on at the company.
This is important to us because it means they can speak intelligently and answer all questions right away. If they don’t have the answer, they can just go knock on someone’s door down the hallway and find out for the customer.
Having people that are always willing to answer the phone or email and get back to you right away is really crucial.
The point where you can’t handle all that on your own, is when you need to hire someone else. Stay cognizant of it and make sure you put that in place.
How do you keep your employees motivated and excited about answering the same questions over and over again?
We have a “bank” of answers for frequently asked questions. Rather than answering the same question 100 times, we can just copy and paste the answer and tweak it to suit a particular customer’s needs.
The tool we use for that is called Text Expander, which allows us to type in a certain character or a certain group of characters and that automatically pre-fills the answer. All you have to do is hit three key commands and have the response to the customer filled out for you.
What were some roadblocks that you came up against while you were growing your business?
At every single point in my business, I got stuck and limited in growth by the sheer lack of space I was in. At one point, my two-bedroom apartment was so filled to the brim I didn’t even have room to eat my dinner. My dining room table was covered with boxes full of phones and I knew at that point, I had to move.
I bought a ranch house, and the basement became our work area. That worked for about a year until we were once again bursting at the seams.
When we got to a warehouse, it truly increased our growth. We doubled the year we moved, because I had the mindset that I could go after bigger deals because we had the space to take them in.
When did you realize that your mindset was getting in the way? What did you do about it? Did it happen naturally? Did you have work at it?
I didn’t realize it until after the fact. Once I moved into the warehouse, I knew for the next time that I needed to get a bigger space to help increase that mindset again.
We started getting really busy there and we were only there for less than two years before I had to go lease another building that was four times the size.
Once I was in there, I only filled half it but I had so many ideas that filled the rest of it up. You can’t always afford to go to that bigger space so you have to be in the right mindset to tackle it as soon as it gets there.
Did you always know you would move into a warehouse? Or did you consider going to a 3PL?
There’s a lot of companies in our space that actually use these third party processing companies and they never ever touch the equipment. The issue with this is that the processing is not on point.
We’re very aware that we need to keep this stuff in-house and make sure it's right for our customers.
With our B2C model, we want to make sure that your customer support is always perfect and that the device arrives safely. If we ship from a third party, there are so many variables. We won’t see the device and won’t know if it’s the right device to make the customer happy.
It’s definitely worth it to invest in that warehouse, but that comes with its own set of challenges, any growing pains you can share with us?
Some of our biggest ones have been around fraud and not realizing the different ways people can fraud you until it’s too late.
Everything can look perfect, until it’s not. Even though I won the lawsuit, ultimately, the owner of the company fled the country and the business was bankrupt, so I got nothing out of it.
I’ve learned to pay for things on my credit card. If you pay for things on an Amex, it is literally impossible to get scammed. They have the best consumer protection program when you file a complaint so I would recommend putting things on your Amex because it’s like an insurance program.
What are some logistical tips and tricks that you can give us for managing your warehouse space and keeping everybody in line and on task?
We have two sides of the business: the side that takes in, processes and tests Mac devices. The other side is the renewed Mac side, which involves selling and shipping it out.
Reducing inbound costs
On the inbound side, we’ve learned to make sure our shipment costs aren’t too high. It’s really easy for a customer to find an enormous box for their iMac and then we get hit with oversized charges, which is around $150 extra per box.
One thing we’ve done to combat this is ship our customers custom iMac boxes. That ensures when they arrive, they are safely packed and hardly ever damaged. It also ensures we’ll never have an oversize charge. Our customers love it and we win by saving in oversize boxes.
Smart warehouse stocking
Another thing to consider is stocking your warehouse in a way that’s easy to manage. We’ve come up with a method, like putting less used products on the top rack and the small bundles of things we need more frequently are lower near the shipping station, so we can quickly grab them.
Organize so you can quickly get things you need and you’re not wasting time. Having things in very key locations has been very helpful for us but that is going to take you time to figure out. You are going to run into each other, and you’re going to waste time packing stuff, but that’s okay.
Time everything, and then optimize
How long does it take you to pack and ship an order? From there, you can optimize until it takes to pick the order and get it out the door is going to get shorter and shorter.
What is a key piece of customer service advice you can give us?
Ask your customers for reviews. If you don’t, you’ll certainly get some, but you won’t get to the scale that you really need.
Ask at a point that makes sense in the customer's journey. For us, it’s after we’ve paid them for their product. They’re thrilled, they just got their check in the mail, or they just got their PayPal payments. They received the amount of money we quoted them, so they leave us very positive five-star reviews.
Find the right point in the customer’s journey and automate the review collection process
Send out an automatic email that is triggered by certain events. This will help you scale and get feedback with ease. When you are setting up those automatic review request emails, consider when you want to send this?
- How long does it take you to pack and ship it?
- How long does it take for the customer to get it
- What is a realistic timeframe for when they’re going to use it?
- How long do they need to like experience it?
Realistically, that would be 10 or 15 days after they’ve received the product. Do the math and figure out what suits your business.
How do you create the kind of environment where everybody’s happy to come to work and wants to work their butt off for you?
Use kindness and empathy whenever you can. We are so open to letting people take any time they need for anything going on in their life, whether it’s a wedding, their sick kid, or they need to go visit their grandma in the hospital—the answer is yes and they know that. It creates such a relaxed environment. You could use the word “family culture”. I don’t necessarily call our business a family, but I have that kind of mindset that I’m just always there for them and whatever they need because your business is nothing without your people.
What the most important thing to remember when growing your eCommerce business?
Customer experience will set your business apart from all your other competitors.
That is one of the only defensible things you can have. A great customer experience will set you apart, create raving fans and bring people back time and time again.
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Text Expander: https://textexpander.com/