Adapt Your Logistics Process for Consumer Personalization

We live in a consumer-driven era of personalization and customization. Shoppers are no longer satisfied with products that are delivered the same way for every person. Instead, they are looking for and purchasing products that are tailored to fit their individual wants and needs.1 They are also patronizing businesses that help create that experience for them.

These preferences are changing the logistics landscape for shippers. It is essential for businesses to have adaptable models built on customer data and systems for communicating in order to survive now and in the future. Read on to learn more about the seamless experience customers crave and the tips that can lead you to success in a post-one-size-fits-all market.

The Customer-driven Ecosystem

Personalization and customization goes beyond monograms. Customers want businesses to anticipate their needs and create a smooth and rewarding experience.

Here’s an example:

A shopper adds something to her digital cart on a store’s website but doesn’t complete the purchase. The abandonment triggers a direct mail piece that is personalized with the item that was in her cart and offers a free-shipping discount. The mail piece arrives within 48 hours and the shopper then completes her purchase using the unique discount code to get free shipping. Her order is processed and shipped from a nearby location, arriving at her door as quickly as possible. This rounds out a tailored experience with a brand she showed interest in.

For customers, this experience can feel magical. But it only works if the business providing it has a flexible network that is rich in data and uses clear communication to maximize the efficiency of the supply chain.

Here are three tips for adapting your shipping and logistics processes to better capture your target audience:

Focus on your customers

The first step toward updating your processes is understanding who your customers are. Study the data they have provided you, from demographic basics to shopping habits. Do older shoppers prefer ordering online and picking up in store? Are male shoppers more influenced by promotions on social media?

Starting with customer data, you should be able to redefine your goals as a supplier. Maybe you’ll use this data to home in on customer satisfaction and build up your customer base instead of focusing solely on product sales. With a strong grasp of who your customers are, you can begin to see the path toward end-to-end visibility in your supply chain.

Build an integrated network

Many businesses see their platforms and tools as independent structures: a CRM tool doesn’t necessarily need to connect with a warehouse inventory system. However, both of those tools interact with customer data.

A CRM tool tracks how and when a customer buys something from your business. When an item is bought, the warehouse inventory system makes a note to replenish that item. Letting these two systems, among many others, talk to each other can greatly reduce downtime. This will help your shipping business run more efficiently.

In the same vein, it’s important that the different people within your business also communicate with one another. Let those in marketing communicate more regularly with those in shipping and logistics. Connecting different departments can lead to better ideas about how to optimize communications between systems.

Strengthen your supply chain

As you gather more data on your customers and allow your systems to communicate with each other, you’ll begin to see efficiency gaps in your supply chain. For example, if you see that many of your orders are coming from a location far from the nearest distribution center, you can find a more sustainable solution, such as shipping from a local store or adding another new fulfillment center closer to that area.

As your business expands internationally, you can also streamline supply-chain processes by partnering with global suppliers. Save time and money by sending orders through an outsourced fulfillment center closer to your global destinations.

Key Takeaways

Using valuable data and systems communications, you can adapt your current shipping and logistics process to curate a better direct-to-consumer experience. Take the time to learn who your customers are and what keeps them coming back to your business. Then, integrate your systems for better internal communications and reform your supply chain. Small changes along the way will help you emerge as a top player in this customer-experience-focused landscape.

5 Myths about Millennials and Mail

With millennials poised to become the dominant force in the economy, companies must learn how to reach this demographic. U.S. consumers ages 18 to 34 engage with brands far more extensively than their older counterparts.1 It’s natural to assume this generation is only susceptible to digital media. It was born and raised on the Internet. But studies show, millennials engage with multiple marketing channels, including direct mail.2 In this article, we’ll dispel the biggest misconceptions about millennials and their relationship with mail. Plus, helpful tips for building a millennial-friendly direct mail campaign.

Myth 1: Print marketing is dead with millennials.

On the contrary, millennials value print.3 Research shows that these digitally engaged consumers are suffering from digital fatigue.4 Print marketing, on the other hand, has the ability to stand out. While millennials receive hundreds of emails every week, mail comes less frequently.5 The age group doesn’t have to tune out the messaging. According to a Gallup Poll, 95% of adults between 18 and 29 feel positively about receiving personal mail.6 They enjoy the tactile experience, use it to link to video content or promotional offers, even share it with friends.7

Ideas Worth Implementing: Studies show direct mail elicits a stronger emotional reaction than digital advertising.8 Use shaped mail to create more memorable, visually appealing content.

Myth 2: Millennials are digital addicts who only engage online.

Millennials are digital natives, but they’re not constantly connected. Millennials make up 31% of U.S. magazine readers and 20% of newspaper readers.9 And when they are online, they’re not always responding to digital marketing. Nearly half of millennials ignore digital ads. Pop-ups, banner ads and emails are also lost in the clutter of the Internet.10 Direct mail has the ability to cut through the noise. 88% of millennials see print on paper as more official than digital.11 With the right content, direct mail can be engaging.

Ideas Worth Implementing: Attendees of a USPS® focus-group study revealed they would be more likely to read direct mail if it had a message around an issue they cared about.12

Myth 3: Millennials do not see mail as relevant.

Though this demographic has grown up in a digital media landscape, they still interact with and enjoy direct mail. Studies have shown that 90% of people ages 25 to 34 find direct mail reliable, and 87% like receiving it.13 Opt for a cohesive omni-channel experience. By mentioning social media in direct mail copy, brands can bridge the gap between the print and digital worlds. Allow consumers to connect with your brand on your strongest social media channels.

Ideas Worth Implementing: Amplify your direct mail by tying in your social media accounts. Adding a social media brand icon to a mailer can lead more of your customers into your omni-channel experience.

Myth 4: Millennials do not trust the messages in direct mail.

Studies have shown the opposite to be true. Millennials do trust the messages in direct mail. 75% of millennials believe that direct mail is valuable.14 This age group actually trusts the information they receive in the mail over other media. 82% of millennials view messages printed on paper as more trustworthy than digital messages.15 When considering all the players in an omni-channel marketing campaign, mail can be used to deliver the most valuable messaging.

Ideas Worth Implementing: Use direct mail in conjunction with your digital marketing to highlight the most important product information and promotions associated with your campaign.

Myth 5: Millennials are not responsive to direct mail.

Wrong. Direct mail has been a successful sales driver for this demographic. In 2014, 28.9 million millennials made a purchase from a catalog.16 Because this age group isn’t as frequently exposed to direct mail as it is to other digital content, it hasn’t grown hardened to its effects.17 A truly potent marketing campaign incorporates both digital and print tactics, allowing mail to garner interest and move consumers closer towards a purchase, be it in-store or online.

best direct mail ideas18

Ideas Worth Implementing: Incorporate an offer millennials will respond to, but don’t stop there. Personalize the messaging for an added touch.

In Conclusion

Though millennials are the generation of the future, it doesn’t take futuristic marketing to drive sales. Digital advertisements have a limited effect on this age group. As the media landscape changes and millennials come into their own, companies will have to become more attuned to the most potent marketing tactics, direct mail included.

5 Key Takeaways from the Ship from Store Webinar

Consumer expectations are changing faster than ever. To achieve success, a retailer must meet or exceed these needs ahead of the consumer, especially when it comes to shipping costs. For this reason, Ship from Store is one of the most invested in omni-channel opportunities today.1

In the Ship from Store Webinar, guest speaker Brendan Witcher of Forrester Research and Jim McNally of the USPS shared their industry perspective on the popular fulfillment strategy, with McNally focusing on the USPS’ ability to meet Ship from Store needs.

Types of Direct Mail Campaigns for the Holidays

Direct Mail Campaigns Can Drive Holiday Sales

Growing businesses need solutions to gain traction amid heavy competition, and direct marketing campaigns can provide a marketing win that could help your business stand out.

With today’s focus on email marketing, it can be easy to overlook the power of direct mail. But think about your own inbox and how overwhelming it can become. That’s where a physical piece of direct mail can stand out. In fact, a survey by Epsilon showed that 77 percent of consumers sort through their
physical mail as soon as they get it.1

“…77 percent of consumers sort through their physical mail as soon as they get it.”

While building loyalty is crucial to all enterprises, it’s a common growing pain in any industry (see Figure A below2). Business owners need new ways to engage customers, and reaching customers with a compelling timely message during the holiday season is a smart strategy to accomplish this.

Figure A
Building Customer Loyalty

Direct mail may be a savvy pivot from tactics many of your competitors maybe using. During the holiday season, most business-to-consumer brands are entrenched in competitive sales and aggressive pricing, but either of those can drive down profit margins. Even though slashing prices to stay competitive can keep companies afloat during the holidays, it’s a short-term strategy. The advantage of a direct mail campaign is that it can show consumers a commitment to their journey toward a happy holiday season.

The advantage of a direct mail campaign is two-fold: likelihood of consumers opening their mail around the holidays, making it an ideal time to increase the odds of your message being read. And, you’re likely to reach consumers right at their point of decision, providing a ready answer to a holiday challenge.

Make it Worthwhile: Determine Your Goals Now

Direct mail could easily provide a robust return on investment as long as it’s executed with a clear, actionable message. Many smaller businesses can benefit from adopting a more corporate outlook, especially when it comes to creatively allocating marketing dollars. While it may seem like an extra expense for a small-to-medium-sized business during crucial sales times like the holidays, this marketing investment could pay off when your brand focuses on presenting solutions to current—and potential—customers.

The type of holiday messaging your brand uses will likely depend on what you need to accomplish and how that dovetails with what you offer consumers. For example, if your budding enterprise is pushing for more digital engagement, consider adding QR codes that instantly connect customers with valuable digital content. Or, include a coupon for a discount on an online purchase, which will drive sales while encouraging customers to engage online.

Send a Clear Message to Your Customers

A key to successful marketing is often reaching consumers during their decision-making process and influencing those decisions by offering something valuable, whether it’s a discount or a solution to a shopping dilemma.

A direct mail campaign can help build awareness during the key holiday purchasing season. Direct mail can help familiarize customers with your brand. Even more so, it can help drive trial purchases when you offer customers something of value in your direct mail piece.

Direct mail can be the tipping point between considering and making a purchase, and having that first successful interaction with a brand can help build loyalty. Once customers have had positive experiences with a brand, those same customers are more likely to consider that brand for similar purchases in the future.

Your direct mail campaign should ideally reach customers at the critical juncture when they are evaluating options but before they make a purchase, and a strong holiday message that conveys value and commitment to their personal successes and happiness is the perfect way to help close that gap.

Types of Direct Mail Marketing

Big Data for Small Businesses

Big data isn’t just for big companies. Small businesses can also harness it to their advantage. Mining the right data is important to businesses of every size—because it can help you connect with customers in more meaningful ways.

What exactly is big data?

Every moment, mountains of data are being created through customer transactions, social media interactions, texts, emails, photos, and a multitude of other connected sources. This is considered “big data.”

Big data isn’t a fad, it’s here to stay. In fact, it will get even more precise, personalized and predictive in the future. It’s the raw material that can be turned into insights to pave the way for more personalized, customized one-to-one relationships with prospects and customers— across demographics and mobile devices. According to a study by Experian Data Quality, “93% of companies think using some form of data is essential to marketing success.”1

“…small businesses shouldn’t be hesitant to use big data. It’s accessible and can help deliver the impact needed to drive growth.”

Analytics can be a game changer for small businesses.

Big data digs down past surface demographics to uncover more detailed and personal information than was available in the past. This information holds valuable insights that small business marketers can use to obtain a clearer picture of who their customers really are. When you know who your customers are, you can reach them on a deeper level to better meet their needs.

Direct mail and big data: better together

Thanks to big data, today’s direct mail is able to deliver targeted offers based not just on geography, but on more in-depth information like interests, recent online and offline shopping behavior, and product usage. These offers can be so precise that they feel truly personal.

The personal insights revealed by big data analytics play an important role in delivering greater impact and a stronger call to action—which can ultimately help increase conversion rates. For current or past customers, the message might focus on purchasing trends as a means to making recommendations for future product purchases, e.g., “If you liked that, you’re really going to want this.” In turn, the message that is used to attract new customers can be more directly tailored to their specific tastes and purchasing habits.

Staying on target

Precisely targeted mailings using big data help marketers get their messages to the right people, at the right time, with the most relevant content. Targeting helps create one-to-one relationships, now considered the “holy grail” of marketing success. For example, a postcard with a customer’s name, customized offer or nearby service location helps to build an individual relationship with that customer.

Here’s how big data is impacting the marketing world:

article_big-data_01“Big data and predictive analytics can produce great results for direct mail. In certain situations, we found a 100 percent improvement over random targeting and a 10 to 20 percent improvement over sophisticated targeting.”2


article_big-data_0262 percent of respondents to the CMO Council’s fourth annual “State of Marketing Report” claim they plan to focus on analyzing customer data to improve segmentation and targeting.”3

Goal-oriented data collection practices

Gathering the right type of data is a key step for small businesses just starting out with direct mail. Taking the time to analyze this information can pay off significantly as it empowers you to get the most bang for your buck. By analyzing who your customers are and who is buying the most, you can target customers based on real attributes.

How data collection can help you achieve the following goals:

Goal: Increase customer acquisition

  • Tap into your social media.
    Analyze which content is most liked, and why, on your Facebook page (and other social sites), so you can incorporate it into your direct mailpiece to connect with new customers.
  • Stay on top of product reviews.
    If customer reviews of your products/services are available on your website, check out what people are saying and, if possible, feature positive reviews in your direct mailpiece i.e. “Here’s what people are saying about us.”

Goal: build customer relationships

  • Analyze which messages are resonating.
    Take inventory of your marketing efforts to determine which marketing messages are most effective in getting customers to take action.
  • Segment your audience.
    Once you analyze your audience, segment them by specific demographics such as Millennials, Business Women, Geographic Location, etc. This allows you to create targeted messages that will appeal to them on a deeper level.

Goal: Increase lead generation

  • Track offer responses.
    Analyze which offers are generating the most response, so you can build on them in future pieces.

The bottom line is that small businesses shouldn’t be hesitant to use big data. It’s accessible and can help deliver the impact needed to drive growth. Moreover, direct mail powered by big data is a way for companies of all sizes and budgets to meet their ultimate goals—to connect with customers, get them to take action, and grow their relationships.

Effortless Returns

The success of any retail business depends on good customer service. Returns are a vital part of that equation. Did you know that most online shoppers check a company’s return policy before buying? The smartest businesses capitalize on a positive return experience to increase sales and boost customer loyalty. Learn how to transform your return process into a competitive advantage.