All Things Shipping | Aug 31, 2022

Prepare for Christmas in July and Other Lessons for Growing and Scaling Your E-commerce Business

Heather Lohmann

Last week, the Shippo team hosted business founders Kristen McClellan (SnappyScreen) and Ricardo Trillos (Cao Chocolates) for our Small Business Roundtable: The Ins & Outs of E-commerce Growth. During the one-hour Q&A and discussion, we got to hear their rich insights and learnings about what it takes to build, grow, and scale a successful e-commerce business. 

The session helped us get a better understanding of how today’s businesses are marketing and selling their products, inspiring customer loyalty, and enhancing operations to get orders out the door as swiftly and seamlessly as possible. From optimizing your customer’s experience to preparing for peak season during the summer, here are our top five takeaways from the webinar:

Any idea or passion project can launch a successful business

Don’t discount that e-commerce business idea just because the market already has competition! Kristen’s business started as an idea sparked by her sister’s poorly applied sunscreen (and resulting splotchy tan), and Ricardo took on his passion for creating chocolates from globally-sourced cacao full time after losing his job as an accountant. Both of them now run successful online businesses selling both B2B (business to business) and DTC (direct to consumer) – it just took a little grit, and the willingness to figure out exactly how to get customers just as excited and passionate about their specific products as they are.

Put your customer’s experience front and center

Your business will only be as successful as your customers are satisfied – if that satisfaction translates to loyalty, you’ll be well on your way to growing your customer base and online business.

Snappy Screen’s tagline – “Experience more” – perfectly showcases their philosophy, which revolves around providing products and services that uplevel the sunscreen and sanitizer application process. As Kristen told us during the roundtable, the company is delivering “an enjoyable experience that keeps you safe”. Cao Chocolates also takes their customer’s experience very seriously, ensuring every chocolate is delivered in pristine condition no matter the weather conditions that may impact the products en-route (in fact, Ricardo told us it’s ultimately his job to be a weatherman with a PhD in shipping). For both businesses, this laser-focused attention to detail turns first-time customers into loyal fans and advocates who keep coming back for more.

Prepare for “the Oprah (or Food Network) Effect” as your business grows

When SnappyScreen was featured as one of Oprah’s Favorite Things, e-commerce sales soared – and Kirsten and team had to figure out how to get those skyrocketing orders out the door and to their customers as quickly and seamlessly as possible. SnappyScreen relied on Shippo to help them not only save on shipping costs, but also determine which locations to ship from in order to deliver the best experience to every customer and meet high expectations at scale: “Shippo was a constant for us”.

Similarly, when Ricardo appeared as a special guest on Guy’s Grocery Games and made the off-hand comment that “American chocolate stinks!” (one week before Valentine’s Day, mind you), sales exploded, and the team was tasked with fulfilling these orders with speed and efficiency. With help from Shippo’s all-in-one e-commerce shipping solution, Ricardo and the rest of the Cao Chocolates team are able to respond to that high demand at scale: “You guys were the answer to our prayers – easy, convenient, and price-wise, it’s awesome”.

For retailers, Christmas starts in July (or even earlier!)

When asked for their advice on how to prepare for the holiday peak season, or any expected period of high sales volume, the answer was clear: Start early! Figure out which products to stock for this year’s peak and get your inventory in check now so you’re ready to meet demand come Black Friday and Cyber Monday. By delighting customers with your holiday shopping and shipping experience, you’ll create lifetime loyalty instead of one-time purchases. “As a founder,” said Kristin, “you can’t stand an unhappy customer” – and Ricardo echoed this sentiment.

Lean into every learning opportunity

To close out our roundtable discussion, we asked our guests what advice they would share with aspiring entrepreneurs. Ricardo told us, “Never think that you know everything – always be humble…and listen. Feedback from others is very important…[and] you have to be able to adjust. Always learn from others – that’s the way to go.”

And Kristin left us with this sage advice: “That’s one of the most important qualities of a small business owner – understanding that not one person can grow a business by themselves. It takes a team to build it, and learning from each other is the only way to get from Point A to Point B.”

To hear the full wealth of knowledge on how SnappyScreen and Cao Chocolates overcome e-commerce biggest challenges, stay ahead of peak season shipping, and more, be sure to watch the full webinar recording.

Heather Lohmann is a Senior Content Marketing Manager at Shippo.

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