POSTED:05/28/2013 - 18:59

By: Kendra Hagerman, Freelance Fashion Writer and Founder, Vancitypretty.com 

As a Canadian, there's an unfortunate reality that we are forced to accept: sometimes, we get the short end of the stick.

We are used to being excluded from contests, not being able to see our favourite touring artist, enjoying a fraction of the Netflix movies that our American neighbours have access to, crossing borders to get our favourite food or brands, and feeling disappointed when we find out that a website won't ship to our glorious country.

But times are changing, and major brands, companies, and stores are considering their Canadian customers.

Since part one of this two part article launched, three major labels have introduced Canadian-friendly websites, meaning more choices for Canadians when it comes to online shopping. Catch up by reading part one, and bookmark some of the latest and greatest websites that ship to Canada.

Shopbop -- A favourite among designer label fans, Shopbop offers a comprehensive collection of quality items all in on place. Shop their 70 per cent off section for some of the best deals on designer labels, and take advantage of their free international express shipping. Pay duty upfront or upon delivery, depending which shipping option you choose.

Gilt Groupe -- This flash sale website offers instant access to designer labels at up to 60 per cent off. A similar concept to Beyond the Rack, Guilt charges a flat shipping rate of $20. Membership is free, but act quickly if you find something that catches your eye; quantities are limited and sales only last a few days.

Zara -- One of the more recent Canadian-friendly websites, Zara Canada launched in March 2013. Ship your order to any Canadian Zara store for pick-up free of charge, to any Canadian address for just $5, or express for just $10. Change your mind once it arrives at our door? Return the unworn item to a Canadian Zara store within one month for an easy refund.

eLUXE -- One of the few luxury fashion websites based in Canada, eLUXE describes themselves as a marriage between magazine and merchandise. Their Ask a Stylist section offers custom advice and styling tips, and all products are shipped from within Canada, which means no surprise duty charges or taxes.

LOFT -- In early 2013, the accessible, trendy, and youthful sister-label to Ann Taylor started shipping to over 100 countries, including Canada. The brand offers everything from work staples to weekend wear, and includes duties in the final purchase price.

The Outnet -- Brought to you by the team behind Net-A-Porter, The Outnet sells discounted designer womenswear and accessories. Product can be limited, but discounts are deep, which means you may want to stock up and take advantage of their $24.95 flat rate shipping cost.

Revolve Clothing -- Since its launch in 2003, Revolve Clothing has expanded its product line to include over 500 men's and women's designer shoes, apparel, and accessories. Shipping is free for orders over $100, and duties/taxes are due upon arrival.

Amazon Beauty -- Amazon may not be the first website that comes to mind when you need to stock up on beauty products, but their two new online stores will change this. Together, Amazon Beauty and Amazon Health & Personal Care carry 80,000 products, including makeup, perfume, hair care, and skin care. All products ship from within Canada, so you'll never have to worry about paying duty or extra taxes.

Haute Look -- Acquired by Nordstrom in March 2011, HauteLook's sales start each day at 8 a.m. Pacific time. Shop some of the best names in fashion, beauty, and home décor at up to 75 per cent off with no surprises. All costs (shipping, GST, PST, and duties) will be displayed when you check out, and what you see is what you pay.

eShakti -- Take the guesswork out of online shopping with eShakti. Shop their women's apparel in standard sizes, or for an extra $7.50, enter your custom measurements and get your item tailed to your body. Be your own designer, and customize your order by adjusting the sleeve length, adding pockets, or changing the neckline. Shipping rates depend on the order value, and new product is added regularly.


POSTED:05/01/2013 - 21:33

By: Armando Roggio

Shipping can be one of the most stressful parts of an online transaction. The customer has already paid for a product, but does not actually have it in hand. And the retailer — devoted to excellent customer service — has no control over the carrier.

In spite of this, there are some commonsense steps a retailer can take to at least help the customer feel more comfortable with the process. Here are seven simple ways to improve a customer's shipping experience.

1. Provide an Estimated Delivery Date

At checkout, some 60 percent of online shoppers want to see either an estimated delivery date or — better yet — a guaranteed delivery date for each available shipping option, according to a 2012 comScore report.

Although it may seem like showing an estimated shipping date would be commonsense, this is still a feature that many online stores are missing.

Imagine the shopper who is buying a birthday present for her nephew. His birthday is Saturday. She’s ordering on Wednesday. Does she need FedEx 2nd Day? UPS overnight? Would USPS Priority Mail work? Without delivery dates, she cannot really make a good decision. If she has a limited budget that would exclude the overnight option, she might just decide to shop elsewhere or pick a less expensive item.

When it comes to delivery, customers have different expectations.

2. Double Up on Shipping Notifications

Shipping notification emails are typically no big deal when they arrive. When a customer receives one, he might just glance at it and delete it. Maybe he will let it linger in his inbox or a folder in case something happens. But for the most part it gets little attention. But if that shipping notification email doesn’t show up at all, that customer may call the retailer, believing something has gone wrong.

In addition to notifications from the retailer, FedEx, the U.S. Post Office, and UPS all offer their own email notifications, too. It can be a good idea to double up on these, meaning that both the retailer and the carrier send the customer an email. If one notification gets tangled in a spam filter, the other one might make it through. Plus, the FedEx or Post Office notification reinforces the merchant’s own message.

Often these secondary emails can be created by the retailer right along with the label.

3. Offer SMS Updates

Text messages — which are more formally known as SMS — are incredibly popular. On a typical day American mobile phone users will collectively send and receive more than 6 billion of them, according to Forrester. What’s more certain customer segments prefer SMS to email.

Infrastructure-as-a-service companies like Twilio make it relatively easy to send shoppers SMS order and shipping notifications. It is little more than commonsense to give shoppers the option to receive SMS notifications too. This is especially thoughtful considering that roughly 11 percent of ecommerce sales come from mobile devices.

4. Provide Many Shipping Options

“Online shoppers have a range of time they are willing to wait for the delivery of their orders,” explained comScore in its Online Shopping Customer Experience Study. “Retailers that offer a range of delivery time options allow themselves to appeal to a wider range of customers. While 48 percent of customers stated that they are not willing to wait more than five days for most of their purchases, 23 percent said they would be willing to wait eight days or more.”

5. Streamline Processing

Despite the comScore study on tolerable shipping times, faster is still better.

Try to streamline order fulfillment, minimizing the time between when an order is placed and when that order is shipped. There are typically a couple of common bottlenecks.

Make sure that those who do the packing are notified immediately when an order is placed. In small retail businesses where employees have more than one job to do, consider using SMS or even an automated phone call to notify the packer.

Streamline the packing process too. For example, have plenty of box sizes, easy packing materials, and easy-to-use tape dispensers, so that the physical task of packing goes more quickly.

Even label-specific printers can help to improve speed.

6. Offer Reliable, Helpful Online Tracking Information

Three quarters of online shoppers said that order-tracking information was an important service, again according to comScore.

Let customers have plenty of options for package tracking, including on-site tracking, links to the carrier’s site for tracking, and the ability to track orders from mobile devices.


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Enroute Platform

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Enroute InBound

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Enroute Analytics

Enroute Analytics provides historic and real-time visibility into your supply chain by converting and parsing shipping data into actionable information to enhance business intelligence, optimize shipping, or create smarter business rules.Learn More