Ecommerce

Now Running On Our New Server Cluster!

Two Saturday’s ago, after a lot of preparation, we migrated Detailed Image to a much-improved server configuration. Thankfully, this wasn’t prompted by any sort of major issue. Rather, in the process of disaster planning we identified a few spots where our redundancy wasn’t as strong as we’d like, the most glaring of which was our server. Since the total chaos of our move in 2008, we’ve been on a dedicated server. We upgraded once in 2011, and that machine lasted us right through this migration…. Continue reading

9/25/18

In-Depth: Overhauling Our Dropship System

Like most online retailers, we don’t stock everything that we sell. Some items, like pressure washers, extractors, and paint thickness gauges are too bulky and/or too pricey for us to stock and ship. In these cases we “dropship” the item, meaning that when the customer orders it we then place an order with the manufacturer to have it shipped direct to the customer. While these orders are a small minority, they’ve been steadily increasing over the years. Our previous system mentioned to customers during checkout… Continue reading

8/27/18

Memorial Day Madness – When Systems Get Pushed to the Limit

Typically, I don’t spend a ton of time within our day-to-day operations. More so than anyone else at our company, I’m usually working on developing features that will improve our customer experience and/or save us time and mistakes. Most of the time I’m a few steps ahead, meaning I’m creating/fixing/improving something that’s not quite a problem yet or that we probably don’t need yet, but that we think we will in the future. Having this mentality has largely saved us from ongoing total chaos as… Continue reading

5/30/18

Order Confirmation Pages – Old Navy Needs to Step up Their Game

Order confirmation pages are a semi-regular discussion for us. They’re interesting because there isn’t one universally agreed upon purpose for them. My partners and I will see a unique example and then start discussing ours. Should we upsell the customer into another purchase, or to add to their order? Should we attempt to promote social sharing through something like our Refer a Friend program? Should we provide information about the product(s) ordered to keep them on the site and get them excited for their order?… Continue reading

5/2/18

The Great Detailed Image HTTPS Migration

In mid-January we finished migrating all of Detailed Image to HTTPS. We’ve now got the shiny “Secure” badge in Chrome on every single one of our pages: This project should have been simple, but it sure wasn’t, in large part due to the fractured nature of various organizations on the web and within Google. While the technical implementation is relatively straightforward, the business decision to do so can be downright scary. A Little Background When we launched our shopping cart in 2007 (and did major… Continue reading

2/6/18

Amazon Has Quietly Started Delivering Packages

Amazon Flex. Does that service ring a bell? It didn’t for me, not until I read Gizmodo’s exhaustive piece last week entitled Amazon’s Last Mile. It begins: Who delivers Amazon orders? Increasingly, it’s plainclothes contractors with few labor protections, driving their own cars, competing for shifts on the company’s own Uber-like platform. Though it’s deployed in dozens of cities and associated with one of the world’s biggest companies, government agencies and customers alike are nearly oblivious to the program’s existence. Flex is in 50 cities… Continue reading

11/21/17

Customer Service as a Competitive Advantage

In the first season of the Masters of Scale podcast I heard Reid Hoffman tell a story about the early days at PayPal. I couldn’t figure out which episode it was from, but he told the same story to the Harvard Business Review last year: We faced this issue at PayPal. In early 2000, payment transaction volume was growing at a compounding rate of 2% to 5% per day. That kind of growth put PayPal in a deep hole as far as customer service was… Continue reading

11/7/17

Bringing Clarity to Our Guaranteed Shipping Options

In 2014 we made a big improvement to our shipping offerings by guaranteeing 3 day or less delivery to the 48 states at Ground rates. After launching USPS we learned pretty quickly that while Priority and First Class Package Service often arrive in 3 days or less, they often also don’t, and estimated delivery dates are not guaranteed by the USPS. We therefore decided to only guarantee FedEx services (and by guarantee, we mean we’ll refund the cost of shipping if the package doesn’t arrive… Continue reading

9/19/17

Maybe E-Commerce Subscription Boxes Aren’t Such a Great Business Model After All

A few years ago there was a huge trend around e-commerce subscription boxes like Birchbox, Quarterly, and the like. It seemed like the perfect business model: why put in all the effort to get a customer for a single transaction when you can get ongoing revenue each week/month/quarter? If you just get x subscribers paying $y per month you’re all set! I can’t tell you how many times this was pitched to us, especially by our shipping reps. I almost felt like the implication was… Continue reading

8/30/17

Why Does Amazon Seemingly Not Care About Box Size?

If you’re an Amazon Prime member I bet this has happened to you. You order something small or a combination of small things. The box that you receive is gigantic with a bunch of unnecessary packing material. This happens relatively frequently to me. The protein bars in that picture above I order somewhat regularly. Each and every time the box is a wildly different size, ranging from almost perfect to way off like that one. The more I thought about this, the less it made… Continue reading

4/18/17