How to Optimize Your Ecommerce Value Proposition
By Tom Wintaugh
We explore the specialized solutions available to merchants who sell the products that seem impossible to sell online—from seafood and medicine to alcohol and diamond rings.
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If the explosive growth of ecommerce over the past few years has taught us one thing, it’s that nearly any item can be bought or sold online. However, not all products are created equal in ecommerce—while items such as books and clothes can be relatively straightforward to sell on the internet, complex products or highly regulated products can pose a more formidable challenge to online merchants.
Luckily, “challenging” doesn’t mean “impossible.” With the right tools and strategies, sellers can create thriving online businesses around even the most high-maintenance product categories.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the unique concerns and specialized solutions for ecommerce businesses that deal with the products most difficult to sell online.
Products that need to be kept frozen or refrigerated—such as frozen foods, fresh meat and seafood, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals—can sound impossible to sell online. But plenty of successful brands have shown that it can be done.
Tools that allow for advanced inventory and order management will be extremely helpful for cold chain ecommerce sellers. Temperature-controlled products usually have specific shelf lives or sell-by dates that businesses need to keep track of, and these extra data points can complicate their inventory. An ecommerce platform that allows sellers to manage millions of SKUs with different shelf lives is imperative for managing such a complex and extensive catalog. Cold chain sellers will also benefit from robust warehouse and order management systems that can connect seamlessly with their ecommerce platform to keep their operations flowing smoothly.
The most obvious challenge facing cold chain ecommerce businesses is shipping and fulfillment. Besides using specialized packaging to keep their products cold during transit, sellers will need to ship orders quickly enough to ensure safe arrival.
Accomplishing this can seem daunting, but modern ecommerce technologies make it possible. By implementing geography-based product availability and shipping logic into their online stores, sellers can set criteria for which buyers are able to purchase certain products. This ensures that products that need to be kept cold during transit are only available to customers whose locations allow for the quick delivery times necessary to keep those products fresh. Cold chain businesses should also consider different pricing strategies to account for increased shipping costs while using smart pricing solutions to automatically adjust product prices based on a buyer’s geographic location.
Clint Pharmaceuticals is a national wholesale distributor of FDA-regulated medications and medical products. Their custom-designed ecommerce suite, which includes a direct API integration between Miva and NetSuite, allows for seamless connections, enables FDA compliance, and delivers a highly personalized buyer experience.
Online businesses that sell regulated products such as alcohol, CBD, and ammunition need ecommerce tools flexible enough to stay compliant with a wide variety of regulations while providing customers with a streamlined and positive online shopping experience.
Ecommerce businesses in regulated industries will need to take extra care in verifying that their customers are legally allowed to purchase their products. A platform that allows for buyer accounts can streamline this process by ensuring that customers only need to enter their information and have it verified once. Buyer accounts also enable reordering and subscription purchasing, making it easier for customers who want to regularly purchase regulated consumables such as CBD and alcohol.
Online sellers of regulated products need to seek out robust and highly customizable shipping solutions to account for the many different state and local regulations around the sale and delivery of regulated products. Sellers can look for an ecommerce platform that offers advanced shipping logic based on customer information, geographic location, cart inclusions, and other criteria.
Learn more: Miva offers sellers unmatched power and flexibility, making it the ideal ecommerce platform for highly regulated industries. Learn more about how our solutions can support your business.
Marketview Liquor, a New York wine retailer, offers online buyers the ability to instantly access their purchase history, reorder products, and monitor delivery status. Likewise, their flexible website empowers the Marketview team to operate and update their website with seamless agility.
Ecommerce businesses in industries such as HVAC, automotive, furniture, and hardware often sell not only larger items but a slew of smaller, hyper-specific parts. This all adds up to a product catalog boasting thousands—or even millions—of SKUs.
Sellers with these large or complex catalogs should look for an ecommerce platform with the capacity for unlimited product variations. Faceted online search tools can make it easy for shoppers to find exactly the part they’re looking for without needing to sift through multiple product pages. Even better are ecommerce tools that allow customers to create custom product bundles and kits—this capability can increase a business’ average order value while providing shoppers with an engaging and convenient purchasing experience.
Finally, businesses in these industries should consider robust multichannel or buy online, pick-up in store solutions in order to serve a wide range of buyers. While small parts can often be easily delivered, some consumers may prefer to pick up large, bulky, or fragile items themselves.
Xtreme Diesel Performance, a B2B/B2C retailer of pickup truck products, boasts a formidable online catalog with tens of thousands of SKUs. But with their innovative Parts Finder tool and 3D Product Visualizer, visitors are able to find the exact auto parts they need with speed and efficiency.
Products that customers traditionally try on or sample in brick-and-mortar stores—such as skincare, cosmetics, and clothing—can be tough to sell online to consumers that prefer an in-store experience. This is why apparel and cosmetics sellers should consider tools that allow their shoppers to easily browse products based on a variety of criteria and discover products like they would when shopping in person. Apparel websites might filter search results by color, size, and style, while cosmetic websites might include search criteria like ingredients or customer skin type.
A primary concern for businesses selling apparel and cosmetics online is returns. Since these are products that shoppers often want to try on or sample before they decide to keep them, sellers should have a clear and flexible return policy as well as streamlined workflows in place for processing returns and exchanges.
One feature apparel and cosmetics sellers might consider implementing into their online stores is a virtual consultation. Some direct-to-consumer clothing and skincare businesses use a free online quiz or questionnaire to offer personalized recommendations to shoppers. These tools enhance the online shopping experience while helping to cut back on the volume of returns by making it more likely that customers will order products suited to their preferences and needs.
Miva’s flexible ecommerce platform empowered skincare brand Arcona to create a quiz that serves as an online product consultation for shoppers. Visitors to the website answer a series of questions and are offered a package of products customized to their individual concerns. See how it works here.
Some ecommerce products defy categorization. Whether due to size, cost, or complexity, these big-ticket items are the products that make people say, “You can sell that online?” In many cases, the answer is yes—provided you have the right tools.
For example, Royal Swimming Pools’ website features an award-winning online swimming pool kit configurator, which allows buyers to design a custom pool from the comfort of their home. It’s a technology that provides shoppers with an engaging experience that’s difficult for competitors to replicate.
Meanwhile, Borsheims Fine Jewelry & Gifts features a next-level product visualizer that allows couples to design their own engagement rings, customizing every step of the way from setting to diamond shape.
Think your products are too complex to sell online? Think again. See why this and other ecommerce myths prevent countless businesses from reaching their ecommerce potential.
Miva offers a flexible and adaptable ecommerce platform that evolves with businesses and allows them to drive sales, maximize average order value, cut overhead costs, and increase revenue. Miva has been helping businesses realize their ecommerce potential for over 20 years and empowering retail, wholesale, and direct-to-consumer sellers across all industries to transform their business through ecommerce.