Editor’s Note: 2 Great Insights From Shop.org
The Shop.org Annual Summit is consistently one of my favorite conferences of the year. Held in late summer, the event provides me with a burst of inspiration that I tap into throughout the rest of the year. This year's conference, held in Boston from Sept. 12 - 14, was no exception. Here are two insights I learned there that I'd like to share with you:
1. Think outside the box. When a team of marketing executives at Columbia Sportswear went to one of the company's fulfillment centers a few years ago, they noticed a bunch of flattened-out boxes stacked up and ready to be recycled, recalled Shop.org Annual Summit keynote speaker Mick McCormick, the executive vice president of global sales and marketing at the Portland, Ore.-based retailer.
While the recycling program that was in place certainly made good business sense, a few team members thought Columbia Sportswear could reduce its environmental impact even more — and save some money in the process — by reusing perfectly good, if slightly used, boxes. Enter A Box Life, an initiative that encourages a communal effort to reuse cardboard shipping boxes.
Here's how it works: A Box Life tracks the life cycle and use of cardboard boxes by giving each participating box a unique QR code and tracking number on individual stickers. This allows customers to track the full story of where the box has traveled. They can track their box's progress on the A Box Life website, share pictures of it on Flickr and tag relevant stories with the hashtag #aboxlife on Twitter. The program has been a success, "with more than 60 percent of our company's e-commerce purchases going out in reused boxes," said McCormick.
2. Organizational structure matters. This was one of five lessons Bill Bass, president of direct at Charming Shoppes, discussed in his keynote presentation, 5 Lessons in 15 Years of Cross-Channel Retailing, at the Shop.org Annual Summit.
When it comes to where e-commerce fits in an organization, Bass believes "your e-commerce team should be independent and it should report directly to the CEO."
Also, don't create an environment where in-store salespeople — whose bonuses are tied to in-store sales — discourage consumers from shopping on your brand's website. Instead, Bass suggested doing something Charming Shoppes has found success with: crediting store reps for sales when a customer who shops at their store buys online. "While some of our folks aren't even aware that we're doing this, others are, and it has solved a lot of the problems we were having," Bass said. To do this, make sure you have a CRM system that can track customers' buying behaviors by channel, which Charming Shoppes has implemented.