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Green Altitude, Yellow Attitude: Take Your Business Higher with GoGreen Plus
Green Logistic
0
Min Read
Green Altitude, Yellow Attitude: Take Your Business Higher with GoGreen Plus

We're proud to be the first logistics company to offer Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) with GoGreen Plus, a service that helps small businesses to lower the carbon emissions associated with their shipments. So whether you're already using recyclable packaging or participating in carbon offsetting, you now have another opportunity to take steps towards a more sustainable future. 

Ready to Ship Yellow to GoGreen? Reach out to learn more about GoGreen Plus. 

What is and Why SAF?

Unlike conventional kerosene-based aviation fuel, Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) is derived from more environmentally friendly sources such as waste cooking oil, and forest and agricultural residue. Once processed, it is blended with traditional aviation fuel and supplied to airports and aircraft. A remarkable innovation in aviation is that an airplane flying on SAF emits up to 80% less CO2 over time than flying on traditional fossil fuels.

We've established a goal to achieve a minimum 30% SAF fuel blend by 2030 as part of our sustainability roadmap. This is a high bar for sustainability in logistics, and we are the only logistics company currently utilizing SAF, leading the charge toward greener operations.

GoGreen Plus: Simplifying Sustainability for Canadian SMEs

We've heard from many small businesses that the quest to reduce greenhouse gas emissions can be fraught with challenges. You're already juggling running your business and having to wade through complex environmental regulations, a lack of governmental support, overhead costs, and information overload. 

But you know sustainability isn't just the right thing to do—it's also a business advantage.

50% of digital buyers state that environmental concerns impact their purchasing decisions1 and 77% of buyers are willing to pay more for a product that is sustainable2

GoGreen Plus addresses these challenges and opportunities for you head-on by making it easy for you to commit to change:

Simplified Process:
DHL's GoGreen Plus service streamlines emissions reduction by removing the barriers that typically prevent small businesses from taking action. 

Certifiable Benefits:
When you ship with GoGreen Plus, you receive a certificate detailing the emission reduction value. You can use this certificate for your reporting, brand marketing, and more.

From Offsetting to Embracing Insetting:
Offsetting and CO2 compensation, like planting trees, don’t cut CO2 emissions. In contrast, insetting, such as through GoGreen Plus, involves investing in reducing CO2 within your supply chain.

Contribution to a Green Future:
By choosing GoGreen Plus, small businesses directly contribute to a more sustainable future, aligning with the growing consumer demand for eco-friendly business practices.

The Horizon Ahead: Embracing Sustainability with GoGreen Plus

The message is clear: sustainability is within reach, and it doesn't have to be complicated. Our GoGreen Plus initiative is more than just a service; it's a movement towards a more sustainable logistics industry. By leveraging SAF, we're reducing our carbon footprint and empowering small businesses to do the same.

Ready to Ship Yellow to GoGreen? Reach out to learn more about GoGreen Plus and start making a positive impact with your next shipment. 

1 (source: globalWebIndex)

2 (source: IBM)

Accelerate Your Shipping Success with Our Exclusive Small Business Concierge
Going Global
0
Min Read
Accelerate Your Shipping Success with Our Exclusive Small Business Concierge

So you're ready to ship internationally—congratulations! There's nothing like the feeling of expanding your business and reaching new customers worldwide. But navigating international shipping can be daunting, especially for small businesses.

Enter DHL Exclusive Small Business Concierge, a first-class shipping experience specifically tailored to the needs of small businesses. Our concierge service is designed to make international shipping easy and stress-free so you can focus on what you do best – growing.

Your first 60 days–it's not just business; it's personal, too

When you create a shipping account with DHL, for the first 60 days, you're part of our Exclusive Small Business Concierge service. It's like having a shipping expert at your fingertips, ready to help you navigate the world of cross border shipping, account setup, and tips and tricks so your package can go around the world, reaching its destination, worry-free.

In the weeks that follow, our concierge will be available to help guide you through:

●      Proactive Monitoring: Ensure your first shipment arrives at its destination on time.

●      E-Billing Setup: Help you facilitate the setup of your billing information online.

●      Customs Declaration: Offer insights into customs requirements, commercial invoices, and shipping practices essential for international shipping.

●      Ongoing Assistance: Order supplies, set up a regular pickup, or support with any shipping-related questions or concerns.

Going and growing global with DHL

The Exclusive Small Business Concierge by DHL supports small business growth and success. Our goal is simple: we provide entrepreneurs, like you with the insights, support, and tools needed for a smooth transition into the global market.

Ready to go global? Get in touch today!

Banker Turned Trendsetter - The empowering story behind the founder of Threads.
Business Growth
0
Min Read
Banker Turned Trendsetter - The empowering story behind the founder of Threads.

Xenia started her career as an investment banker. But when she was sick of wearing uncomfortable, non-durable tights, she pivoted her career to launch Threads – a brand that offers high quality, sustainable and affordable tights, and hosiery.

As the world comes together to celebrate International Women's Month, DHL wants to shine a spotlight on extraordinary women who have made remarkable strides in their respective fields. Among them is Xenia Chen, the inspiring founder of Threads and one of the winners of our SME Discover Your Next Contest in 2022. Today, we celebrate Xenia's accomplishments and highlight the innovative impact of Threads in the fashion industry.

How did Threads start?

In 2018, Xenia was working in the financial services industry at the time and would go through a lot of hosiery with work wardrobe. She was getting fed up with the number of tights she was going through in a month, because of rips and pulls in the material. Xenia found that she was either spending $10 at the drugstore for a pair that sucked or spending $60 on a pair that was comfortable and luxurious, but still had some sort of shelf life before it rips or wears out. She noticed her female coworkers were also experiencing the same frustrations when it came to their tights, whether it was about comfort or how much money they were spending. And that’s when Threads was born, the experience motivated her to start doing her own research into the hosiery industry, where she learned there were virtually no companies out there who were making tights with women in mind.

Threads was created to be different in both design and affordability. They work directly with their factory in Italy, where they can cut out the middleman, so women can get luxury tights at the fraction of the price. It was important to Xenia that women had access to affordable and high-quality tights, seeing how they are a fundamental staple to women’s workwear.

Threads’ greatest challenge and success so far in the journey
Like many other small businesses, the most significant challenge (and accomplishment) for Threads was navigating the impact of COVID-19 in 2020. Operating as a young business in an industry reliant on people dressing up, whether for outings or work, posed considerable difficulties. Xenia expresses gratitude that Threads successfully re-strategized on the fly, nurtured existing customers, identified new and unexpected customer groups, launched new products, and ultimately made it through the challenging year with the entire team intact, while also establishing a new business line. A true testament that sometimes, the best ideas can come out of times of incredible challenge. 

Threads' achievements include significant media coverage from outlets such as the Today show, Fashion magazine, and Good Housekeeping. This recognition is attributed, in part, to the company's gender-inclusive policy, making Threads a popular choice within the drag and crossdressing communities, setting it apart from competitors. The brand has further diversified its product line with the introduction of fly-contour tights designed for men. Additionally, Threads has expanded its distribution network, now offering its products not only online but also in small independent clothing shops.

Xenia’s advice for aspiring entrepreneurs

“Just start! If you’ve been dreaming up something for awhile, start working on the idea now. There will never be a “perfect time” to start a business. This doesn’t mean you need to quit your full-time job – just start working on it on the weekends or at night (that’s what I did with Threads for the first year). Taking the first step is often the hardest step but also the most important! Lastly, failure is not the opposite of success: it’s a stepping stone to success.”

Learn more about Xenia and Threads at ca.yourthreads.co or on Instagram at @threads.co

How Milk Jar Became a Philanthropic Company
Business Growth
0
Min Read
How Milk Jar Became a Philanthropic Company

My love for candles began in my early 20s; I’d always loved their beautiful smells that filled my room and their glowing ambiance. I remember I couldn’t wait to move out of my parent’s house and go to University, just so I could finally decorate my own place. The Bohemian style of decor was very popular at the time – crafted candles and earthy smells were a must-have to create a natural and cozy atmosphere. They say that your 20s are about self-discovery. You try out different paths, interests and styles, with every year of getting older also getting to know yourself deeper and closer to your authentic self. It’s our way of finding your life’s purpose – and I found mine through candle making.

In my undergrad, I studied Kinesiology. Early on in my schooling, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but chose the degree based on my interests in sports and healthcare. I come from a family of healthcare professionals, so I always assumed that I’d end up working in that field as well. My parents taught me that a meaningful job is one where you can help others, and that’s what started me on my journey.

By the end of my degree, I had gained a lot of experience in sport therapy, exercise, rehabilitation, biology, etc., but the area that I became most passionate about was adaptations and accommodations for disabled people. I only had one class in my entire four-year degree that taught me about this, but when I took the class, I jumped at the opportunity to do a practicum with the Special Olympics and volunteered to facilitate a pool therapy program for a teen with Cerebral Palsy. That semester, I built a strong bond with the teen and his mother and we decided to keep swimming after my work experience contract was complete.

I was hired to swim once a week for 6-8 months of the year, and sometimes I visited their home to do some on-land therapy and stretching. We did this for 7 years, until he turned 20. Being a part of this family’s life and witnessing their dedication to making sure their son lived a full and rich life was a life-changing experience for me. In all the beautiful moments, I also saw the really hard ones: the exhaustion from medical visits, the back-and-forth for funding support, and the struggles of raising a child with a disability in a world that does not offer equal opportunities. This really opened my eyes to how hard this world can be for people living with disabilities, and their families, and it sparked my desire to find a career where I can help this community.

Milk Jar was not my first attempt at a job with my new-found passion. My original plan was to get my master’s degree in Occupational Therapy. Unfortunately, it was a competitive program and I wasn’t accepted. I was disappointed, but I still wouldn’t have traded those evenings in and out with friends for a few extra days of studying. I’m a strong advocate for living life to its fullest, so I have no regrets – and everything happens for a reason! Enter Milk Jar.

The idea of creating Milk Jar came to me, about four years after finishing school, during a time when I was feeling quite lost. I had worked a couple jobs that I cared very much about, but none of them made me feel like I was making the impact that I knew I was capable of. I was making candles in my home as a way to experiment with soy wax when I learned that burning common paraffin wax candles released carcinogens and soot into the air that could cause respiratory issues and other health concerns.

I mentioned before I loved burning candles and had them in every room in my home. Because of my family and background in Kinesiology, choosing healthy lifestyle options has always been important to me. I could’ve just started purchasing other candles made with natural waxes, but it seemed easy enough to make myself – and more fun! I quickly learned that it wasn’t that easy, but I enjoyed the process of learning how to blend fragrances, vessels, waxes, and wicks. And my favourite piece to candle making? Developing scents that capture a memory, place or feeling.

After a year of making candles and also feeling like I wasn’t connected to the disability community that I cared so much about, I decided in April 2016 that I’d start a business selling my candles that donated a portion of its profits to organizations that were doing amazing work that. I launched Milk Jar that November and reached out to the Canadian Association for Disabled Skiing and offered to donate $1 from the sale of every candle to them that following year.

I was just as terrified as I was excited to launch into entrepreneurship. I had no idea what I was doing, let alone running a business, but I was passionate about creating a company that was more than just Milk Jar. By inserting a philanthropic purpose into Milk Jar from the start, all my nerves about whether it would succeed or fail didn’t matter. It would’ve already been a success even if I donated $50. That first year we donated $2000 to CADS Calgary.

Fast forward to today and Milk Jar has donated over $100,000 to various non-profits including: CADS Calgary, Between Friends, and PaceKids Programs. Last year, we became an inclusive employer, hiring people in our community living with disabilities to help hand craft the products we make. This has fundamentally changed the culture in our company, we experience more joy at work and everyone is more motivated. We are learning from each other everyday. It’s a beautiful atmosphere to be around people that may appear different from us but recognize that we all want similar things in life. Never in my wildest dreams did I think a little home-grown business could raise this much money and touch as many lives as Milk Jar has in 5 years. I finally found my purpose – and it wasn’t something I waited to find me – I created it.

I’ve learned a lot over the years of starting and running this business, and if there is one thing that you take away from reading this, it’s to ask yourself what else? What else does your business do besides its obvious sale of product or service? What does your company stand for value, and contribute to that gets you out of bed on those tough days? And believe me, you will have them. How have you added purpose into your company that you can speak to, are passionate about, and that every member of your team can be proud of?

A business that cares will be your greatest return on investment. Now more than ever, people want to know that their dollars are being spent on companies that care about economic and social sustainability. When you show that your company is more than just the business of sales, you will have lifelong supporters that’ll be dedicated to helping you succeed.

There’s a lot of inequity in this world. Supporting an important cause that elevates your community can come in many forms: donating, volunteering, advocating, befriending, etc., and it feels really good to give your time, energy and/or money to initiatives that need and benefit from it.

I believe it’s our duty to take care of each other and our planet, and it is the way to lead a purposeful life. Owning your own business is a privilege. A privilege that should be used to make this world better for others, not to make ourselves better than others. If we could all experience the same opportunities, access and treatment, then what a beautiful world we would be living in.

___________________________________________

About the Author

Holly Singer is a compassionate and inspirational 32-year-old entrepreneur and philanthropist. She grew up in Victoria BC, moved to Calgary for university, and has since built Milk Jar to what it is today in what she now calls home. Holly enjoys relaxing at home with her dog Bowie and plans to do a diving trip in Indonesia sometime in the near future.

Learn more about Holly at milkjar.ca or on Instagram at @milkjarcandleco

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What Is Subscription Marketing And How Can It Boost Your Sales?
Business Growth
0
Min Read
What Is Subscription Marketing And How Can It Boost Your Sales?

What is subscription marketing?

Subscription marketing is a strategy designed to help businesses acquire new customers and retain existing customers in the long-term. The most common way is via a subscription business model which involves customers paying a recurring fee to access a product or service.

How a subscription model works

A customer will sign up to be charged on a recurring basis for a product or service. They can choose how often they receive the offer – for example, weekly or monthly. When the contract is up, the customer can either renew or cancel the subscription. Some businesses give their customers the flexibility to cancel it at any time.

Types of subscription marketing

Chances are, you have several active subscriptions yourself. There are the obvious ones, of course, (hello Netflix), but lockdown encouraged people to explore niche services, too.

Broadly speaking, within e-commerce, there are three types of subscription business models:

Replenishment subscriptions. This is when a customer pays for a replacement of an essential item on a regular basis. The driver for this is usually convenience – the customer doesn’t have to remember to buy necessities like milk, dog food or deodorant; they’ll be delivered straight to their doorstep.

Curation subscriptions. A key example is subscription boxes which have grown in popularity in recent years. A business will choose several of their products they think the customer will like based on their previous buying history and send it out to them in a box each month. Customers enjoy the “surprise” element, whilst the personalization aspect fosters strong engagement with the brand. One such example is beauty brand Glossybox, which ships cosmetics samples to customers all over the world with DHL.

Access subscriptions. With this, customers pay for exclusive access to member-only perks such as discounts or early access to sales. The driver for customers to sign up is the exclusivity element, whilst brands can leverage the model to make customers feel really valued which in turn increases their loyalty.

Benefits of subscription marketing to your business

The sales model is growing in popularity: existing subscription brands grew their overall customer base by 31% in 2021 alone2. Time for your business to join in? These are the main benefits which might just tempt you to commit:

Steady revenue  

For e-commerce businesses, forecasting sales can be unpredictable. But with subscribers, you’ll have a more accurate idea of how much money will be coming into your business each month, which will help you make better financial decisions.

Cost effective  

Acquiring new customers is expensive. In fact, it’s five times cheaper to retain an existing customer than acquire a new one3. With a subscription service, you can foster long-term, loyal customers – providing you give them a great service, of course (more on that, later).

Improved demand forecasting

When you know how many subscribers you have, you can better plan your inventory needs. This will reduce excess inventory, which will save your business storage costs.

Less losses to competitors  

E-commerce is highly competitive; your rivals are always just a couple of clicks away to customers. Yet, subscribers to your business will be less tempted to stray to other brands if they’re already signed up to your service.

Increased customer satisfaction

Personalization is a huge influence on consumers’ buying decisions – in fact, 80% are more likely to purchase when businesses provide a personalized experience4.  With a curated subscription service – like a monthly box – you can send your customers a carefully-selected bundle of products based on their specific likes and dislikes.

Upselling and cross-selling opportunities  

Once you have established trust amongst your customers through a personalized subscription service, they’ll be more receptive to upsells and cross-sells that you promote to them – which means more sales for your business.

Challenges of subscription marketing

Churn rate

One study of B2C subscription companies over a 19-month period found the churn rate – how many customers cancelled their subscriptions – was, on average, 8.11%5. Many customers cancel their subscriptions after the initial excitement and sign-up freebies dry up. That’s why it’s important for businesses to have a long-term strategy in place for their subscription models if they are to increase their customer lifetime values.

Budget-conscious consumers

With global inflation and the cost-of-living crisis upon us, it’s no surprise that “reducing overall expenses” was the leading reason consumers cited for cancelling retail subscriptions in a recent survey6. If your business falls into the “luxury” rather than “essentials” category, you will need to put extra effort into creating a valuable offering.

How to create an effective subscription marketing strategy

It’s one thing getting a subscriber on board for a trial period, but how can you retain them in the long term?

Offer enticing discounts

Your customers will be looking for great value – they need to feel they’re getting a significant deal on your products by subscribing, otherwise they’ll look elsewhere.

Give perks

Beyond price reductions, there are plenty of other benefits you can offer to keep subscribers signed up. Examples include member-only wholesale pricing, priority service, and a special discount code on their birthday. Get creative to make the experience extra special. Look at what your competitors are offering, too.

Make it easy to join  

Signing up to a subscription with your business should be a quick and seamless process for new users. If they are an existing customer of yours, let them use the details they have already registered with your business (shipping address, card details etc.) to create a subscriber account.

Consider a freemium subscription model

Freemium pricing is an acquisition tool whereby you give new customers limited access to selected subscription features, for free, in the hope they will eventually sign up for the paid-for model. If you are unsure whether it is right for your business, you could trial it for a short period of time to see if the number of conversions it prompts makes it a worthwhile investment.

Use a tiered subscription model

A one-size-fits-all price is not the best approach for subscription models. Your customers are all different, so you should offer a range of subscription pricing tiers which they can choose from depending on their individual needs. Remember, choice equals sales!

Have a transparent cancellation policy

Many consumers are deterred by subscription packages by the worry of being locked into a long-term contract. So, the more flexibility you can offer in your cancellation policy, the better. If you allow subscribers to cancel immediately at any point (and with no fee), you’ll be on to a winner.

Adapt and tweak

Over time, you can use your customer data to improve your subscription service. Things to look out for include at what point in the subscription cycle most cancellations are happening. What is occurring at this point and how can you address it? Remember to invite customer feedback, too.

Use an automatic billing system

Choose a payment provider that offers a no-fuss recurring billing system so that you can process payments from your subscribers with ease. Keep the billing process simple for your customers, too.

Offer free shipping

In a global survey of consumers’ most desired subscription features, “free shipping” came out on top7. If you can afford to offer this, then do so – and be sure to shout about it on the subscription sign-up page.

Choose a reliable logistics carrier

Once you’ve curated the perfect subscription model, bursting with personalization and perks, it’s time to think about delivery. And for that, there’s no better logistics partner than DHL.

With DHL Express, you can offer your customers fast, reliable shipping, with full tracking and shipment status notifications. So, you can be sure they receive their subscriptions on time, every time.

Open a DHL Express Business Account, here.

References

1 – Sell Courses Online, March 2023

2 – Forbes, July 2022

3 – Outbound Engine, April 2022

4 – McKinsey & Company, April 2020

5 – GoCardless, April 2023

6 – PYMNTS, May 2022

Exporting To Germany: A Guide To Doing Business In Germany
Going Global
0
Min Read
Exporting To Germany: A Guide To Doing Business In Germany

The short answer is yes. Germany is one of the largest e-commerce markets in Europe, second only to the UK. With a huge number of e-commerce consumers (nearly 70 million by 2027), very high e-commerce penetration with 81% of the population bought online in 2023, and a high average spend per user (although less than two-thirds of the UK's), it presents a powerful proposition for businesses looking to export to a new market.1

Every country is experiencing unusual year-to-year e-commerce growth figures following the COVID-19 pandemic, but Germany's total e-commerce revenue is set for a steady upward path of 8% CAGR.2

80% of the German population uses a smartphone. And as of 2021, the smartphone has become the most popular device for online shopping in Germany, closely followed by the laptop.3,4

E-commerce sector market trends in Germany8

  • Smartphones are vital for online shopping, especially for those under 50. But for those over 50, smartphone usage decreases for online shopping.
  • The use of social networks has become an important step in the buying process to read reviews and comments about products for decision-making.
  • Luxury goods, especially luxury fashion, are growing in Germany.5
  • German consumers are increasingly willing to pay for green products: either products made from recycled materials or through carbon offsetting schemes or offers. Sustainability is becoming a bigger part of the decision-making process.
  • Express delivery services are in high demand – especially in the grocery & food market
  • The majority of e-commerce and online shopping is done on large international e-commerce platforms such as Amazon, eBay, etc. But local platforms have gained increasing popularity in recent years.

Germany's most popular e-commerce platforms6

1 amazon.de

2 ebay.de

3 kleinanzeigen.de

4 otto.de

5 idealo.de

53% research before buying

Just over half of Germans say they research on the internet before a major purchase, while 47% say online reviews are very important.7

Key shopping dates in Germany

Valentine's Day February 14th

Similar to other parts of the world, Valentine's Day has transformed into a more commercialized event in recent years. Many individuals tend to purchase gifts for their significant others or love interests, such as accessories, clothing, chocolates, or flowers. These items are readily accessible and are heavily promoted during the weeks leading up to February 14th.

Easter March/April

Easter is important in Germany for both religious and secular audiences. Before Easter, Germans are keen to show off and decorate their houses which leads to ordering various indoor decoration articles on one hand but also improving their outside appearance by buying outdoor furniture and gardening tools for the upcoming spring and summer season. As Easter has increasingly become a commercial event, parents in particular take part in the classic "Easter nest" shopping. Sales of products such as children's toys and sweets are likely to rise during this period.

Glamour Shopping Week April & October

Centred around the magazine Glamour, the Glamour shopping week takes place twice a year in Germany. The March and September version of the magazine includes a shopping card with an individual code for several brands. It is primarily for fashion and accessories, but over the past years, more and more luxury brands, cosmetics and electronics are also taking part.

Cyberweek & Black Friday October

Cyberweek and Black Friday are huge online shopping events that originated in the US but have become popular in Germany and elsewhere across Europe. During this period, many online platforms offer massive price reductions on electronic devices and other products. Shoppers can find great bargains and deals on items they want or need.

Christmas Holiday December 24th - 26th

Few countries celebrate Christmas in quite the way Germany does. It's an important and highly traditional holiday, celebrated with family and friends. People start preparing for the festive season in late November, by buying advent calendars, wreaths and candles. They also shop for Christmas gifts for their loved ones, choosing from various products, vouchers and services. However, this also means that there is a high rate of returns in the following weeks, as some gifts may not fit or suit the recipients.

Reading the regulations: German import regulations

When exporting to any country, it is important to comply with local import regulations.

  • Germany has strict customs procedures that can be time-consuming and complex. Shippers need to provide detailed documentation to comply with customs regulations to ensure the shipments can be cleared without delays. Germany imposes import taxes and duties on many products which will add to shipping costs.
  • If you want to pay customs duty instead of your consumer purchaser paying it, you need to state which account the duties and taxes should be billed to within the booking process on the Airwaybill.
  • Make sure you contact the German Customs authorities, a valuable partner in getting the information for proper importing to Germany. You can find more information on their website at www.Zoll.de

Products needing government approval

The following products may require additional documents or other governmental agency approvals prior to clearance:

The insider’s guide: DHL’s 3 tips for exporting to Germany

Understand the importance of reviews and research:

German consumers rely on research before buying, perhaps more so than consumers from other nations. German consumers are very well-informed and discerning when it comes to making purchase decisions. They do plenty of research before buying, comparing different products, prices and features. They also rely heavily on reviews and recommendations from other customers, experts and trusted sources. So it's crucial for exporters to Germany to provide accurate, detailed and transparent information about their products and services. Importers to Germany should also encourage and respond to customer feedback and reviews, as well as showcase any awards or certifications they have received.

Offer reasonable shipping costs and returns options:

Avoid charging high shipping costs and always communicate shipping prices transparently—before the checkout process begins. Set a threshold for free shipping: Considering the high order average order values, particularly among German online shoppers, it’s a great idea to offer a price threshold for free shipping. Free shipping on orders above a certain amount, such as €150. Convenient return shipping is slightly more important than free returns.

Find a local partner:

Consider partnering with a local distributor or retailer to help navigate the German market and reach customers more effectively. Exporting to Germany can be challenging if you do not have a local presence or network. You may benefit from partnering with a local distributor or retailer who can help you access the market and reach potential customers. A local partner can also provide you with valuable insights, feedback and support on various aspects of doing business in Germany, such as marketing, logistics, customer service and legal issues. You should choose a partner with experience and expertise in your industry and who shares your vision and values.

Export to Germany: Get started with DHL

You've learnt all about the German e-commerce market – you know it's a vibrant, growing sector. So how do you get your products to Germany? DHL's logistics and delivery experts are ready to help. Open a DHL Express Business Account today.

References

1 https://www.statista.com/outlook/dmo/ecommerce/germany

2 https://www.statista.com/outlook/dmo/ecommerce/germany

3 https://www.trade.gov/country-commercial-guides/germany-ecommerce

4 https://www.statista.com/statistics/1363060/online-shopping-device-germany/

5 https://www.statista.com/outlook/cmo/luxury-goods/germany

6 https://www.similarweb.com/top-websites/germany/e-commerce-and-shopping/

7 https://www.statista.com/forecasts/998723/attitudes-towards-online-shopping-in-germany

8 https://santandertrade.com/en/portal/analyse-markets/germany/reaching-the-consumers

Holiday Shipping Tips
Business Growth
0
Min Read
Holiday Shipping Tips

Tips to Prepare for Shipping in Time for Christmas

Know the shipping deadline for Christmas

Speak to your courier partner about the last day for Christmas delivery; if you miss the deadline, you’ll have some extremely disappointed – and angry – customers on your hands. Make sure the shipping deadline for guaranteed Christmas delivery is clear on your website too, so that customers place their orders in time.

Give your website a polish

Speaking of your e-commerce website, the lead up to a busy period is the perfect time to check everything is in order. Does it load quickly? Is navigation fast and intuitive? Is it optimized for mobile? Check out our complete 22 golden rules of e-commerce to ensure your customers have the best experience possible. Remember, happy browsing leads to greater purchasing!

Create some buzz on social media!

Running a Christmas sales campaign? Great – now you just need to let everyone know! 22% of consumers prefer to discover new products via social media (versus searching on Google1), so you need to ensure your social pages are packed full of gift ideas. You could even play around with a bit of live streaming – a great way to show your products off in more detail.

Come mid-December, there’s still plenty of time to nab some last-minute shoppers – in fact, it’s the perfect time to send your email subscribers a special discount code.

Shipping: think fast and free

Consumers love free shipping. In fact, 9 out of 10 said it is the leading incentive to shop online more2. It may seem an expensive cost to your business at first, but as online orders with free shipping average around 30% higher in value3, it’ll be a worthwhile investment.

Deliver unboxing magic

There’s a reason “unboxing” videos are a big hit on YouTube. Online shoppers are increasingly seeing the packaging of their purchases as a big part of the experience. Christmas is the perfect time to go all out and really wow your customers: invest in some beautiful festive packaging for your products, offer gift wrapping at checkout, and include a thank you note with orders. These personal touches will be appreciated by customers and increase the likelihood of them posting about your brand on social media. Bonus points for keeping it green – check out our guide to sustainable packaging.

Consider free returns and exchanges

67% of online consumers will check a brand’s returns policy before committing to buy4, so a “free returns for the holidays” offer can help you win customers. Furthermore, research shows that offering free online returns encourages a higher average basket spend amongst shoppers5.

Don’t forget the final mile!

You’ve smashed your Christmas campaign, shifted all your stock, and wrapped your orders beautifully – now you just need to get them to your customers’ doors on time and in one piece. And for that, there’s no better logistics partner than DHL. As e-commerce experts, we can help you manage the delivery rush and keep those all-important customer promises.

Christmas Shopping Trends

Knowing this year’s holiday shopping habits will help you plan your marketing strategy. Consumers’ budgets are still being squeezed, with 22% of “holiday celebrators” saying inflation concerns would have a “significant” impact on their spending this year6. They’ll be looking for discounts so be prepared to offer deals to incentivize them to buy.

Remember, though, that value doesn’t just mean the price of your products. In a global survey by Outbrain7, “cost of delivery” was considered to be the most important factor to adults shopping online. Offering free shipping over the holiday season might cost your business a little upfront but could be a worthy investment for the extra sales it generates.

Inflation will also impact when consumers begin their holiday shopping. Last year, a Google survey8 revealed “as of mid-October, holiday shoppers globally had on average 21% of their holiday shopping complete.” With inflation continuing, expect the trend to be repeated this year – which is why your holiday campaign should be ready to roll out soon.

Inventory and Supply Chain Management for Christmas Shipping

A big logistical challenge for your business will be managing your seasonal inventory. You probably placed your Christmas orders with suppliers months ago. However, with global supply chains so temperamental now, it’s important to maintain regular communication with your suppliers so that you can react quickly to any delays and minimize the impact on your end customers.

In 2021, a study by McKinsey9 found AI had helped businesses improve their inventory levels by 35%. An example is inventory management software which uses predictive analytics to help businesses better forecast demand surges and automatically order new materials from their suppliers when needed – a valuable system during the busy peak season.

Outsourcing your logistics to a third-party logistics (3PL) provider, like DHL Express, is another step to consider to help your business meet demand. A 3PL provider can manage procurement, warehousing, transportation of goods and order fulfilment for you, in addition to customs brokerage if you’re shipping internationally.

Best Practices for Customer Service during Holiday Season

Customer service should be a top priority for your business – after all, the peak season may bring new buyers through your online doors and you want to ensure they become repeat customers.

For e-commerce businesses, the role of chatbots and AI-driven customer support is evolving in new and exciting ways. Chatbots are now able to understand customer intent on a deeper, more accurate level. They can then suggest or upsell products the customer is more likely to buy.

AI can also be utilized to deliver personalized product lists to customers based on their previous buying history. Personalization is a big deal to customers so do your research to see how AI can help.

With a DHL Express Business Account, you’ll receive expert logistics support during the peak season – leaving you to focus on the business of selling.  

References

1 – LinkedIn, January 2023

2 & 3 - Invespcro, May 2022

4 - Ecommerce News, March 2019

5 – Klarna, 2019

6 - Practical Ecommerce, August 2023

7 – Outbrain, July 2023

8 – Big Commerce, 2023

9 – McKinsey & Company, April 2021

Packaging Goods For Shipping : The Basics
Business Growth
0
Min Read
Packaging Goods For Shipping : The Basics

Assessing your product

How much does your product weigh? How fragile is it? How valuable is it? Does it need controlled conditions, like regulated humidity? Are there any special packaging regulations around it, as with foodstuffs? How much have you factored into the cost of your product for packaging (this will influence your packaging budget)? Did you know that quite innocuous products like perfume or electronics, for example, can be classified as Dangerous Goods and need to be packaged accordingly? All these are things to consider when deciding how to package your items.

Choosing appropriate packaging materials

There are basically two types of packaging – external and internal. Unless your product requires specialized packaging, like liquids or powders, the external packaging is usually some form of cardboard box. Always choose a high-quality corrugated cardboard box and avoid re-using old boxes as they lose their rigidity.

Internal packaging is used to cushion your product and fill gaps inside the box, to stop the goods moving around. Styrofoam used to be a favorite, but this has now been banned in many countries as it’s so damaging to the environment. There are many different types of internal packaging which have different levels of suitability for cushioning, filling gaps or voids, protection, or as dividers when you’re shipping multiple products in the same box.

Here is a simple chart showing some of your packaging options and what they are best used for.

Protecting your goods

Not all cardboard boxes are the same, and you need to choose the right type for your external packaging. For heavier or more fragile items, double or triple-wall boxes are more appropriate. There should be a manufacturer stamp which tells you more about the strength and durability of the box or, failing that, consult your box supplier.

For internal protection, biodegradable air peanuts are a greener alternative to styrofoam. Bubble wrap also does a good job of cushioning and protecting your product but, again, this is a traditional plastic-based packaging material and corrugated bubble wrap is a lot greener. Foam wrap, air pillows, crumpled paper, corrugated inserts and shredded cardboard are all other alternatives for protecting your goods – you just need to decide which is most suitable

Top tips:

Wrap items individually – for maximum protection from shocks and vibrations.

Use dividers – to prevent goods knocking into each other and causing damage.

Keep items from moving around – secure them in place to reduce the risk of breaking.

Place items in middle of box – so they don’t tilt during transit. Use plenty of padding to secure them in place.

Marketing and personalized packaging

While packaging’s primary purpose is to protect your product so it can be safely delivered to your Customer, it can also do so much more.

Packaging can be a powerful marketing tool, allowing communication with your Customer when they’re feeling most positive towards your brand – when their order arrives. At its most basic, you can use packaging to bolster your brand image using consistent colors, logos, messaging, typography and other brand elements. While your outer packaging may be a cardboard box, it needn’t just be plain brown! Consider using packing tape in your brand colors and custom-designed labels.

You can also synergize your packaging with your advertising. For example, if you’re running a social media campaign using a particular headline, why not look into adding it to your packaging? You can also cross-promote your social media campaign by adding a hashtag.

Other opportunities include: tying in your packaging with particular events – for example, Valentine’s Day or Christmas; including a personalized, handwritten thank-you card (perhaps with a personal discount code); and adding free samples of related products.

Creative packaging, personalization, free samples and discounts are all powerful ways of encouraging Customer loyalty and repeat purchases.

Packaging for quick and easy returns

Returns are a fact of life in the age of e-commerce. While offering free returns has cost implications for your business, many Customers will only shop from retailers who operate a free returns policy. It’s a dilemma you have to weigh up and make a decision about.

Whatever you decide, strangely enough, a return is actually another opportunity for your business. By making it as hassle-free and simple as possible, you will encourage the Customer to buy from you again, even though this particular purchase hasn’t worked out. So always include clear instructions and a returns label. And in terms of the packaging itself, choose a box that is easy to open –perforated for example – and easy to re-use and re-seal, maybe including an adhesive strip.

By putting some thought into it, you can make the returns process a positive customer experience and a way of differentiating yourself from your competitors.

Sustainable packaging

Make no mistake, sustainability is a huge issue among consumers now, and using sustainable packaging could be crucial to the popularity of your brand.

Sustainable, green or eco-friendly packaging are terms that mean the same thing: packaging that has the lowest possible impact on the environment. This low impact is achieved in three basic ways: by limiting packaging waste; by using materials that are recyclable or biodegradable; and by the use of renewable energy in the production of the packaging.

So, what can you do? Most obviously, cut back on waste by using packaging that’s the right size for whatever product you’re sending. Sending a small product in a big box annoys recipients so much that, in the past, they’ve taken to social media to shame companies who do so.

As for packaging materials, new alternatives are being developed all the time. As mentioned above, biodegradable packaging peanuts can be used instead of styrofoam and corrugated cardboard bubble wrap instead of traditional plastic-based bubble wrap. Air pillows made from recycled or biodegradable materials are another alternative. Corn starch could be used instead of plastic. And if only plastic will do, there are now biodegradable and recycled plastics available. Organic ecological textiles are also becoming more popular, includingorganic cotton wool for cushioning, linen and poplin anti-scratch covers, and tape made from hemp.

And finally, try to source cardboard boxes and paper that have been recycled or certified to support sustainably managed forests.

For more details, read our article on green packaging.

Other considerations when shipping overseas

Of course, packaging is important. But, no matter how much thought you put into it, it could end up pointless if Customers are disappointed by a needless delay to their shipment or annoyed by surprise additional costs.

We can help you navigate international trade by enabling you to calculate your customs duty, tax and other fees, so you can pay them up front. Plus, you can get the correct HS (Harmonized System) codes and check your shipment’s compliance with any country’s import and export regulations.

You can do it all, using our free Global Trade Services toolkit.

Packaging Basics Checklist

• Assess your product

• Choose appropriate packaging materials

• Ensure your goods are protected

• Use your packaging as a marketing tool

• Make sure it’s returns-friendly

• Choose green packaging alternatives

• Navigate customs with our Global Trade Services toolkit

So, your packaging will ensure your shipment arrives at its destination in one piece, but what about on time? That’s where DHL has you covered. With a DHL Express Business Account, you’ll have access to a range of expedited shipping solutions to help you meet your customers’ expectations.

Green Packaging And Why It's Important To Your Business
Green Logistic
0
Min Read
Green Packaging And Why It's Important To Your Business

The next time you unwrap a parcel, observe how many layers of packaging material you need to tear through to finally get your item. It is estimated that up to seven types1 of packaging material go into a single parcel: tape, cardboard boxes, styrofoam padding, and bubble wrap are some common examples that protect goods during transport. Before a parcel arrives safely at the consumer’s door, it has already left a trail of environmental destruction in its wake. And all too often, this excess packaging ends up in the bin.

Packaging itself takes up almost a third of all plastics production, but only 14 percent of it will be recycled, according to a joint report by the World Economic Forum and Ellen MacArthur Foundation. And this plastic waste problem is escalating with the rise of e-commerce, which is expanding at an average rate of 20 percent a year worldwide. Global retail e-commerce sales were valued at US$2.29 trillion (€2.01 trillion) in 2017.

What is Green Packaging?

Green packaging, sustainable packaging and eco-friendly packaging are terms which all mean the same thing: packaging that has the lowest possible impact on the environment.

This low impact is achieved in several ways: by limiting the packaging waste created; by using materials which are recyclable or biodegradable; and by using renewable energy during production.

Why is sustainable packaging important for businesses?

There are two main reasons. Firstly, because sustainability is now such a big issue among consumers that being seen to be green is crucial to the popularity of your brand and the longevity of your business. And secondly, because of the global impact traditional packaging has on the environment.

How product packaging impacts your business

Most consumers want green packaging. As far back as 2020, in research by Trivium Packaging1, 74% of those surveyed in the US, Europe and South America were willing to pay more for it. It’s become even more of a trend since then.

Studies have shown there is a positive correlation between green packaging and positive branding, with many consumer advocacy groups promoting companies that use sustainable packaging. And recent data reveals that 44% of customers choose to buy from brands with a clear commitment to sustainability2.

As a result, more and more businesses are realizing how a green packaging strategy makes sense, in terms of customer acquisition, retention and long-term loyalty. And in today’s ultra-competitive commercial environment, it’s more important than ever to your bottom line that your business adopts sustainable practices.

The impact of packaging on the environment

We’ve all been irritated by parcels with the item packaged in a box that’s far too large for it, and the void filled with padding. Excessive packaging is very obviously wasteful.

And, whether or not the packaging is of the appropriate size, several types of materials have traditionally been used for a single parcel: for example, tape, cardboard boxes, styrofoam padding and bubble wrap. Many of these packaging materials are composed of plastics. In fact, according to the United Nations Environment Programme3, around 36% of all plastics produced are used in packaging. And packaging is the largest generator of single-use plastic waste in the world.

Plastic production is also one of the most energy-intensive manufacturing processes in the world. So, before a traditionally packaged parcel arrives at a consumer’s door, it has already contributed seriously to the climate crisis.

Then, all too often, this packaging ends up in landfill or becomes litter. Plastic can take up to 1,000 years to break down, so it builds up in the environment, damaging soil, poisoning groundwater, and choking marine wildlife. Microplastics enter the human body, with the potential to cause serious health impacts – and have even been found in the placentas of newborn babies.

The impact of plastic waste on the environment

According to The Ellen Macarthur Foundation4, the root cause of all this waste is the current structure of the economy: we take materials from the earth, make products from them, and eventually throw them away as waste. The foundation advocates a transition from this so-called linear economy to a circular economy, in which we stop waste being produced in the first place.

The circular economy is based on three principles: eliminate waste and pollution; circulate products and materials (at their highest value); and regenerate nature. It is underpinned by a transition to renewable energy and materials, and decouples economic activity from the consumption of finite resources. The foundation claims the system is resilient, and good for business, people and the environment.

Clearly, sustainable packaging solutions are an important element of any transition to a circular economy.

Sustainable Packaging Solutions

Below is a range of green packaging options5 to consider. The question is, which are appropriate for your particular business?

Biodegradable packaging peanuts

These are a more sustainable alternative to styrofoam, which is also known as EPS (expanded polystyrene foam). Styrofoam has now been banned in many countries due to its environmental impact. One of the traditional packaging materials, it cushions against shocks and helps prevent products moving while in transit. But it’s neither biodegradable nor can it be recycled economically, and it’s often found in our rivers and oceans.

While cushioning just as well as styrofoam, biodegradable air peanuts made from natural materials are both more sustainable and cheaper.

Harts of Stur, a UK kitchen appliance and homeware retailer, is one company which has switched to this form of packaging from Greenlight Packaging – to the delight of their customers6.

“The reaction to our eco-friendly packaging has been nothing short of overwhelming. Customers are so pleased that we use an environmentally friendly alternative to polystyrene!” Harts of Stur

Corrugated bubble wrap

A traditional packaging favorite, bubble wrap helps protect fragile items during shipping. However, being plastic based, it’s definitely not green packaging.

One sustainable alternative is a wrap made from up-cycled corrugated cardboard. Rather than disposing of or recycling post-consumer cardboard waste, the material is given an additional life as a cushioning agent. Small cuts are made to produce a concertina-type effect that protects against shocks just like bubble wrap.

Air pillows made of recyled materials

Inflatable air pillows are another sustainable packaging solution for use instead of styrofoam or bubble wrap. Available in a variety of sizes, they’re ideal for filling voids in boxes or providing cushioning around packed items.

Air pillows are small bags that can be inflated, so consist mainly of air. This cuts down on the plastic used in their production and transport compared to other cushioning materials. While they can be re-used and recycled, it’s important to choose versions made from 100% recycled and biodegradable materials.

Recycled cardboard

Cardboard boxes are ubiquitous as outer packaging. Compared to plastic, a cardboard box reduces oil and CO2 emissions by 60%7. And, as an organic material, cardboard is 100% biodegradable and can be recycled several times over.

Even so, while cardboard definitely counts as green packaging, it has environmental drawbacks. When it’s dumped into landfill sites, its biodegradation emits methane gas, creating a substantial carbon footprint. Moreover, it’s made of tree fibres, so adds to the risk of deforestation. To mitigate this, try to source post-consumer or post-industrial recycled paper and cardboard, and look for materials that are certified to support sustainably managed forests.

Corn starch packaging

Corn starch is an organic material, made from the corn or maize plant. It has similar properties to plastic, making it an effective and more sustainable plastic alternative in many guises, from bottles to loose-film packaging.

However, as corn starch is derived from the grains of corn, it competes with human and animal food supply systems, possibly making corn more expensive. So, while it has excellent properties for packaging, you might still prefer to opt for a different plastic substitute.

Biodegradable and recycled plastics

If the nature of your product means you have to use plastic packaging, at least you can choose 100% recycled or biodegradable options – although plastic can only be recycled a limited number of times before it ends up in landfill. A greener alternative would be to source biodegradable plastic materials, which can be decomposed by living microorganisms.

While there are some bioplastics which compete with human food supplies, such as those made from corn starch, sugar cane and wheat, there are also microbial polyesters, or polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA). PHAs are polyesters that are synthesized and stored by various microorganisms. The only downside is the cost of the additional carbon needed for the microorganisms to metabolize and produce these biodegradable polyesters – although waste cooking oils and animal oils are promising, cost-effective, and sustainable options. Companies who have introduced PHA plastic into their supply chain include Nestle, Pepsico and Bacardi.

Organic ecological textiles

Ecological textile packaging reduces waste, as it’s made from multi-use, durable materials such as organic hemp, organic or recycled cotton, tapioca, or palm leaves. All are biodegradable, so take less time to decompose naturally. Examples of usage include organic cotton wool for cushioning, linen and poplin as anti-scratch wrap covers or bags, and hemp tape to bundle products together.

Sustainable packaging innovations

While green packaging is a global trend in itself, and the sustainable packaging solutions discussed above are part of it, here are three other kinds of innovative packaging that could emerge as key options in the future.

Mushroom packaging

Mushroom packaging really is made from mushrooms. It uses a process that combines pre-cleaned agricultural waste with mushroom roots. This raw material is moulded into the shape required, dried and used as packaging. Agricultural waste can’t be used for food, so mushroom packaging avoids the ethical dilemma corn starch packaging brings with it. It also degrades naturally at a very rapid rate. Even so, despite its suitability as sustainable packaging, it is currently only feasible for smaller items.

Seaweed packaging

Seaweed is a sustainable packaging solution made from agar – a gelatinous substance found in many seaweeds and algae. The agar is extracted and dehydrated to produce a material appropriate for packaging. Being made from a plentiful, sustainable raw material, seaweed packaging could become one of the big new trends in green packaging.

Edible films

Edible film is a cutting-edge sustainable packaging solution, most appropriate for food products, with a global market expected to reach $4.2 billion by 20288. Potentially, it could curb food and packaging waste, while also reducing chemical leaching from plastic.

Different natural products can be used to create edible packaging, but the most effective and widely used is chitosan, a sugar made from the chitin shells of crustaceans. This makes chitosan one of the most plentiful biopolymers – and edible packaging a much greener alternative to plastics.

Green packaging solutions checklist

Here are six ways to make your packaging more sustainable. See which could work for you:

  1. Insist on sustainable packaging materials that can be re-used
  2. Use biodegradable and compostable packaging
  3. Reduce the size of your packaging
  4. Adapt product packaging to be shipping-friendly
  5. Enable customers to return and re-use empty product containers
  6. Ship items in bulk

For advice on other ways to make your shipping greener, contact your DHL sales representative.

References

1 Trivium Packaging Global Buying Green Report

2 Ecoenclose

3 United Nations Environment Programme

4 The Ellen Macarthur Foundation

5 Green Business Bureau

6 Greenlight Packaging

7 Primepac

8 Yahoo! Finance

Strategies For Managing Customer Expectations
Business Growth
0
Min Read
Strategies For Managing Customer Expectations

Customer expectations in 2023

In a DHL survey, only 38% of B2B business owners and 31% of B2C owners said they had been able to fully implement their e-commerce strategy. The main reason? Having to manage customer expectations that are changing considerably.

But what are these expectations that have rocketed so rapidly? The 900 respondents – all decision-makers and in key industries – had very clear ideas.


Customer service tops the list of expectations

The graph shows key customer-facing considerations for businesses in B2C and B2B sectors. Over 50% of survey respondents in each sector said customer service was extremely important.

Customers now expect their purchases to be painless – a seamless experience with excellent service. Assuming you offer the same goods for the same price as many competitors, meeting customers’ demands could be the reason they choose your business. Demands that not too long ago may have been inconceivable – next-day or even same-day delivery, real-time tracking, flexible ordering, and simple returns.


Delivery rates highly for B2B and B2C customers

44% of both B2B and B2C respondents said time-specific delivery was a key customer expectation – whether within two hours, same day or next day.

Offering multiple delivery options is also very important, though slightly more so for B2C businesses (41%) than B2B businesses (36%). Around 30% in each sector said it was also very important that shipping was free of charge.


Over one third say returns are important

Offering multiple return channels to customers – for example, to a service point, a locker, or back to a bricks-and-mortar store – was rated as important by over one third of respondents in both B2C (37%) and B2B (39%) sectors. A hassle-free returns process was also key to meeting customer expectations, for 37% and 34% respectively.

Product availability and support an important factor

In addition to customer service and time-specific delivery, product availability was reported as one of the most important customer expectations. Over 40% of B2C respondents said it was very important and just under 40% of B2B respondents. Understandably, technical product support was more important in the B2B sector, with 45% rating it highly compared with 36% in B2C.


Types of customer expectations

Customers expect many things of an e-commerce business, but most can be broken down into the following categories.

Explicit expectations

Explicit expectations are specific targets customers have when they seek out a product or service – for example, quality, price and/or performance. They are “must haves.”

Implicit expectations

Implicit expectations are those that customers rarely voice but assume will be met – for example, in e-commerce, implicit expectations might be that the product arrives undamaged, complete, and matches the description on the website. Implicit customer expectations are often the base standard you expect.

Technological expectations

Technological expectations are influenced by how a product category evolves. For example, mobile phones are constantly updated with new features and innovations, so customers’ technological expectations of this category grow too.

Static performance expectations

These relate to the overall performance and quality of your brand. Accessibility, customization, reliability, punctuality and user experience are just some of the elements influencing customers’ perception of it.

Dynamic performance expectations

These relate to how a product or service is expected to change over time. To exceed dynamic expectations, such as changes in customers’ needs or their business goals, you’ll need to monitor these as they evolve and adapt accordingly.

Digital expectations

These are what customers expect when interacting with your brand online – and they have changed following the pandemic. Customers now expect a mobile-optimized website, product transparency, a personalized user experience, and the ability to purchase on social channels, among other things.

Interpersonal expectations

Interpersonal expectations are what customers expect during person-to-person interactions – for example, with customer services. They expect customer service assistants to be expert, friendly, and courteous. While interpersonal expectations are independent of the product purchased, they are important in building customer loyalty.

Situational expectations

These are influenced by a customer’s experience pre- and post-purchase. Customers may form situational expectations based on imagery they’ve seen or an experience they’ve had. They are the least predictable expectations and the hardest to manage, and can also evolve over time.


How to manage customer expectations: six strategies

Managing customer expectations isn’t easy. Here are top six strategies to help you.

1. Prioritize service

Great customer service can differentiate you from your competitors, even if your products are almost identical, and gives you a real advantage. In the past, companies would cut back on service when they reached a certain size, in order to reduce costs. But now, especially in e-commerce, competition is so high that if you don’t deliver on service, customers will simply go elsewhere.

2. Be where your customers are

With people increasingly shopping on smartphones rather than laptops and desktops, and social media platforms becoming accepted places to buy, you need to ensure your business is in tune with these new customer behaviors. They will expect your site to be mobile-optimized, and expect you to have a presence and interact on social channels, so make sure you don’t disappoint. Work out where your customers are engaging most and be there – and be aware that this can change, too.

3. Listen to customer feedback

According to HubSpot’s Annual State of Service in 2022 report, 42% of businesses do not survey their customers1.

Yet, with so many survey solutions available – plus chatbots, social media, email, and customer reviews – there are now a multitude of ways to get feedback from your customers. It’s the best strategy to both understand and manage their expectations, as well as identify any pain points before they escalate.

4. Be honest with them

By being open and honest with your customers, you can earn their trust and loyalty to your brand.

For a start, set realistic expectations. For example, don’t promise next-day delivery unless you can fulfil that expectation. And if issues develop that mean you may not meet your usual high service standards, let your customers know and keep them updated on the situation. Being honest will help keep them on your side.

5. Keep communicating

The after-sales service you offer is extremely important. A simple thank-you to a customer, or a discount for their next purchase goes a long way, especially if personalized. Newsletters with relevant offers are another great way to maintain communication – but don’t send too many.

6. Make your logistics a priority

Delivery and returns have become key areas of concern for e-commerce customers. To keep up with their increasing demands, consider partnering with a third-party logistics provider (3PL).

You’ll benefit from their supply chain expertise and flexible distribution network, which means you’ll have a simpler, faster and more cost-effective way of getting your products to customers. This will leave you with more time to focus on other aspects of your e-commerce business.

Discover more about outsourcing your logistics, here.

The future: customer expectations will only increase

Like e-commerce itself, customer expectations will continue to grow in the years ahead. As a result, customer service will become a major battleground for e-commerce businesses in both the B2C and B2B sectors. Only those which prioritize and invest in this area will succeed in meeting customer expectations and building loyalty.

Partner with the experts: open a DHL Express Business Account to ensure your customers’ expectations are met – every time.

References

1 Hubspot

How To Prepare For Black Friday
Business Growth
0
Min Read
How To Prepare For Black Friday

What is Black Friday?

Black Friday is the Friday after Thanksgiving in the US and traditionally marks the start of the holiday shopping season. Retailers offer huge discounts and promotional deals, and some extend their opening hours. The day has become a global phenomenon, attracting record numbers of shoppers looking for bargains.

Why is Black Friday good for business?

The sheer scale of the event means there are plenty of sales to go round – for businesses of all sizes. It’s a great opportunity to shift any overstock inventory you may have with some enticing deals and discounts.

79% of consumers typically discover a new online store on Black Friday1, which means there’s a good chance your business will have some new customers through its online doors on the day. And new customers can be converted to repeat customers – providing you deliver a great experience.

Planning for your Black Friday marketing campaign

You’re running a Black Friday sale? Great! Now you just need to let all your customers know. It’s never too early to start – many Black Friday bargain hunters will be browsing social media on the days before to plan their purchases. In response, some retailers offer “Black Friday Daily Deals” to nab some extra sales.

Stand out from competitors using these Black Friday marketing strategies

Create a Black Friday landing page

Visitors to your website should know immediately that you’re running a Black Friday campaign. Put your best deals front and center of your homepage, use bold headlines, high-res photos and strong call to actions. A countdown timer is a great way to instil a sense of urgency on your deals.

Ensure your deals are competitive

Look at what price points your competitors are selling their products at – can you price match? Or, even better, go lower? Perhaps you can throw in some freebies or samples with every order – anything that can give your business a competitive edge.

Keep new customers happy…

Attracting new customers through your online stores this Black Friday is key, but so is ensuring they come back again and again. Criteo asked consumers: “What would make you return to a brand or retailer that you discovered on Black Friday?” The leading answers? Beyond the obvious “great deals”, free and fast shipping scored highly2. Consider if you can absorb the cost of free shipping elsewhere in your business – it’ll be worth it if it secures you extra sales. As for fast shipping, DHL Express has you covered!

…and remember to reward the loyal ones

Drop your existing customers an email with an extra Black Friday discount code. Use engaging copy to thank them for supporting your business – they’ll appreciate the personal touch. Just remember to use the phrase “Black Friday” in the subject line – emails containing this phrase have a +64% Click Through Rate3.

Create a Black Friday gift guide

You can tap into AI to build unique and personalized gift guides for your customers based on their previous browsing and buying history. Email these out to them a few days before Black Friday so you’re on their radar.

Monitor your inventory closely

If something sells out, you can quickly switch to push other products on your homepage, and if something is not selling as well as you’d anticipated, be ready to offer further discounts.

Ship internationally

Of the world's 195 countries, it’s estimated that approximately 50-60% celebrate Black Friday in some form or another4. That makes it the ideal time for you to think about shipping internationally – if you don’t already do so. DHL Express can help your business sell cross-border, taking care of all the hassle around customs regulations, duties and taxes, so that your customers receive their orders without delay – wherever they are.

With a DHL Express Business Account, you’ll receive logistics support from the experts to help your business manage the peak season rush.

___________________________________________

References

1 & 2 - Criteo, October 2021

3 - DotDigital, September 2022

4 - Invespcro, May 2022

Asian Heritage Month: How a Small Business Came to be with Immigrant Values
Business Growth
0
Min Read
Asian Heritage Month: How a Small Business Came to be with Immigrant Values

Asian Heritage Month is an opportunity to learn about and celebrate the achievements and contributions of Asian-Canadians who have made Canada into the country we know and love.

As a child of Vietnamese immigrants, and a small business owner, I’m celebrating this month by sharing my personal story of growing up with my parents, how my experiences have shaped who I am, and how my business, Freon Collective came to be.

Freon Collective is a low-waste, eco-friendly lifestyle brand that I started in early 2019. It wasn’t meant to be anything more than a hobby (you’ll come to learn that I have too many hobbies). I approached Freon Collective as a hobby, but my parents always instilled the value of hard work in me. With that thought in mind, that’s how I’ve grown it to be the nationwide brand it is today.

At 18 years old, in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, my mom left her family, her country, and all she had ever known. She fled Vietnam alongside hundreds of thousands of people between the 1970s and 1990s in a mass migration known as The Boat People. These vessels were small, cramped, and there were constant threats of starvation, sinking, pirates, and more. When she reached Malaysia, where she was reunited with my uncle (who had made the same journey earlier), she met my dad and eventually had me.

During this time, my parents went through many struggles while they were seeking resettlement in more developed countries. They were separated for a year and a half when my mom left for Canada with a six-month-old-me in her arms. She worked day and night jobs to support the both of us and raised enough funds to sponsor my dad to come to Canada.

As immigrant parents who did not want their child to go through the same struggles they did, my parents actively encouraged a more traditionally “safe” route: focus on academics with the hopes it would lead to a stable career. Despite this push, they never discouraged my creative pursuits. When I was interested in learning piano and violin, they worked music lessons into the family budget. When I became interested in photography, they purchased a camera for me for my birthday. When I eventually became interested in sewing and design, they helped me buy a sewing machine — so long as I continued to pursue academics — they were content knowing I was also taking sewing courses in high school.

When it was time to choose a post-secondary option, I knew I wanted to study fashion and design. My parents were never able to receive higher education — I would be the first in the family to go to university. They wanted to support me, but naturally, my parents had reservations. Likely because I would have to move across Canada and my choice was so different from what they had in mind. After all, what kind of jobs would there be in the fashion industry, besides the obvious one of fashion designer? Still, I was determined and I packed my bags and moved across the country to attend fashion school.

While I was studying for my undergrad, I worked part-time as a sewing instructor at a local business in Toronto. My mom worked actively to support me, even though she had doubts about my career choice. At this point in her life, she had gotten her GED, worked several jobs from hotel housekeeping to factory jobs, serving, and eventually becoming a nail technician and opening her own nail salon. As soon as I graduated, I landed a job with a local children’s clothing brand, where I honed my sewing skills and continued to work as a sewing instructor on the weekends.

As if a full and part-time job wasn’t enough, I started a lifestyle and beauty blog on the side. This began as a creative outlet for me to continue my photography and writing passions, but it eventually became a third job. I would wake up in the morning and edit photos, write posts, and then do the same in the evenings after work. When my blog gained more traffic, I started attending events, growing my network, and learning more about the marketing and advertising world. Like my parents who had worked several jobs when they started their lives in Canada, I found myself doing the same.

A major hurdle (and blessing in disguise) came when I was just two years out of my undergrad. The clothing manufacturer I had been working for was going out of business. Despite still having my part-time teaching position and blog, I had no idea what I was going to be doing next. I felt like I had failed — a fear that many children of immigrants know all too well. I thought, “I should have listened to my parents.” After all, my parents worked day and night when they were reunited in Canada to support their families back in Vietnam. Like most immigrants, they didn’t have safety nets to fall back on in times of crisis. It was common for my parents to take the overtime shifts, working twice as hard to counterbalance their language deficiencies. They saved every penny to buy their first house, bring my mom’s family over, and provide a comfortable life for myself and my siblings. They worked so hard to give me a life where I wouldn’t have to worry, and here I was, practically going to be jobless in a few weeks.

When my parents came to Canada, they took any opportunities that came to them and never said no. They knew that nothing was going to be handed to them in this white-dominated country and lived with a mindset of work and survival. I witnessed this firsthand, so when the opportunity came up for me to take over the manufacturing side of the company I was working for, I decided to go for it. After that company closed, I moved everything I would need into my 500 square feet condo and opened Freon Collective. I was now self-employed and starting a business with no formal business background.

Freon Collective began as a small-batch production company. I would work with other businesses to sew their products, produce patterns, design samples, and more. A few months into this, I started Freon Collective’s in-house brand. I made a few sets of reusable cotton rounds, opened an Etsy shop and was completely blown away when they sold out within the first few hours.

The colleagues I had met in the blogging industry were incredibly supportive and instrumental in helping Freon Collective grow in those first few months. Before long, I found myself taking product shots by day and editing photos by night. I was sewing every day, shipping out orders, fulfilling wholesale accounts, and participating in my first local markets. You could say all of the creative pursuits (photography, writing, sewing, etc) that I had when I was younger came full circle.

When I started Freon Collective, I had no idea this brand would become what it is today. Let’s be honest, running a business is hard. It’s unstable at times, it’s 10x more work than anyone thinks it is, and you — yourself — are responsible for all of the decisions. As overwhelming as the past few years have been since opening a small business though, I know this is where I was meant to end up after all.

As I reflect on Asian Heritage Month, I can see the parallels between my mom’s life and mine. When we were both 18 years old, we left our families and hometown. We worked, went to school, and eventually opened our own businesses. My mom worked to support her family, and as I’ve grown older, I find myself wanting to work to continue my parents’ Canadian dream. I want to make my parents proud, and for them to know that everything they’ve done to come to Canada and build a life here wasn’t in vain.

If you’d like to learn more about Asian Heritage Month and Vietnamese Boat People, please visit the following resources:

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About the Author:

Nancy Mac is the owner of Freon Collective, a Toronto-based low-waste lifestyle brand. She is passionate about design, sustainability, and supporting local businesses. Her products have been featured in several publications including Chatelaine, Buzzfeed, and Who What Wear.

Learn more about Nancy and Freon Collective at freoncollective.ca and @freoncollective

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