In this interview series, we are talking to leaders of ecommerce businesses who can share their strategies for creating a very successful ecommerce website. As part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Anders Ekman.
Can you tell us a bit about your backstory and how you got started?
Sure! I’m a restless entrepreneur with a degree in marketing. Been messing around in the intersection of entrepreneurship, macro trends, and digital development for the past 15 years or so—first with iPhone app development, then fintech, and the last seven years in ecommerce SaaS.
No matter the venture, I think it’s so much easier to build a company if you’re supported by a macro wave and the possibility of disruptive technical changes, like the ones we experience in the ecommerce industry at the moment.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? What lessons or takeaways did you learn from that?
Yeah, mistakes are a great way to learn. Going live with one of our first enterprise merchants, way back, we accidentally introduced a bug that sent parcels all over Sweden… Customers were notified that their orders were ready for pick up in places that were miles away from where they should have been delivered to. That was hectic, to say the least. And all this happened after a really thorough testing phase!
It’s important to accept that things won’t always go as planned, even when you think you’ve covered all the bases. Always expect the unexpected, and get ready to fix the issues as fast as possible. That’s precisely what we did—and 6+ years later, that merchant is still our client.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are?
We’re a team of founders, and that’s really important to me. Some days are tougher than others, and when you doubt yourself, or any of your ideas, or you’ve just been turned down by a potential client—it is really good to have someone who shares your experience that can lift you up and get you back on track.
What does your ecommerce company do? What was the “aha moment” that led to the idea for your current ecommerce business?
Ingrid connects people who shop online with carriers and merchants. We work closely with ecommerce businesses to improve their delivery strategy and the way delivery information is presented to online shoppers, which I believe is a big part of building successful ecommerce websites.
The core product is Ingrid Checkout which presents different delivery options in the checkout based on what the consumer is buying and increases the checkout conversion rate by showing detailed information about when and how orders will get delivered.
After shopping online for years and constantly being frustrated about how bad the delivery experience is, realizing how it could be solved by a solution like ours just clicked with me.
What was your original vision for your company? What pain point(s) were you trying to solve for your customers?
The original vision was to create a delivery experience that fits people’s lives, and it still holds true today. Already looking ahead seven years ago, all things pointed towards a massive growth of ecommerce. If it would’ve been the same hustle to get online order deliveries, but just exponentially more often, then it would’ve become a real pain point for all the consumers around the world…
And that’s the main pain point we’re trying to solve here. Even years later, though, coordinating ecommerce deliveries can be quite some work if you have 2-3 parcels coming your way at the same time, so there’s still work to be done.
There are more than 12 million ecommerce businesses out there. What do you think makes your company stand out? What are you most proud of?
We’re closing in on 100M orders “delivered” via our platform, so quite many. I’m most proud of the products we’ve built, how low downtime they have, and how low churn we experience. It proves that we help to solve a real problem and create value for ecommerce merchants, consumers, and carriers alike.
Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things you need to know to build a highly successful ecommerce website?
Since we’re about creating the optimal delivery experience, I’ll focus on things related to what I know best:
1. Put a spotlight on order delivery information
Introduce delivery information as early in the buying experience as possible, ideally already in your ads or on price comparison sites, and definitely on your product pages. It's about time we admit that the delivery details no longer belong to the last step of the checkout process!
2. Offer multiple delivery options
Consumers shop based on the delivery experience, so it’s important to let them choose what works best for them on a given day. Deliveries are contextual, what works for one consumer one time might not work the next time for the same consumer, depending on what they're buying, how many deliveries they expect, how much they paid, and so forth.
Do not shy away from having local delivery options specific only to certain cities. If that’s what your online shoppers want, try to set it up! On that note: Keep in mind that a proper delivery strategy doesn't necessarily mean you have to offer all the delivery options in the world—it's more about finding the right balance between what your customers need and what's feasible for your business.
3. Set a delivery pricing strategy
One of the most popular delivery pricing tactics is offering free shipping on all orders. I’ve seen this time and time again—for many ecommerce companies, it still seems like a must in order to stay competitive.
I don’t think it’s the best idea for every business, though. To make an informed decision, start by looking at your product catalog. Products with high margins could have a lower delivery price and vice versa. Also, try setting a free shipping threshold that works for your business, or make your premium delivery options free.
With the right set of tools, you can experiment with your delivery prices and free shipping offer to figure out the best options for everyone involved.
4. Simplify your address form
Nobody likes filling in endless address form fields when buying online. Keep things focused on the purchase—think clean design, fewer address fields (you could, for example, use a single field for the full name rather than separate first and last name), and make sure to autocomplete and validate address details as much as possible.
The faster (and less error-prone) the checkout process, the better for your customers and your business.
5. Pay attention to the order confirmation page
For some reason, there’s rarely a detailed overview of the ecommerce order after finalizing it. Did you notice? From my experience, many consumers forget what delivery option they selected, so why not remind them about it on the order confirmation page?
If possible, give them the opportunity to correct the details as well. This little trick can really reduce your support errands afterward.
If there were one part of the ecommerce website development process you would have spent 50% more time on, what would it be and why?
Testing designs and ideas before implementing them. It’s so much faster, smarter, and economically sustainable to validate the value and need of a feature before coding it—but somehow, it’s so hard to do!
Can you share a few examples of tools or software that you think can dramatically empower emerging ecommerce brands to be more effective and more successful?
I might be biased here, but I can definitely recommend trying out Ingrid! Ingrid Checkout alone can help ecommerce brands set up complex delivery logic that meets the needs of different online shoppers while helping to increase important business metrics (like Average Order Value and Checkout Conversion Rate) and cut delivery costs.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start an ecommerce business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Not talking to customers. It is really easy to verify an idea or a need by just coming up with a lot of information yourself. Don’t start building solutions right away—replace that with tedious manual work to test if there’s a need for what you’re selling.
In your experience, which aspect of running an ecommerce brand tends to be most underestimated?
Again, I’m a little biased, but here it goes! In my opinion, order deliveries are an important part of ecommerce operations—yet they are often underestimated by online merchants.
See it for yourself: Whenever you shop online, pay attention to the delivery experience.
- How many delivery options are available?
- Do you even have a choice?
- What about post-purchase communication?
- Do you understand the tracking notifications that carriers send?
- And then, was getting the order problematic in any way?
- Did you have to contact customer support at any point?
Deliveries can truly give you and your customers a headache, which is why I’m a big supporter of improving this important aspect of online shopping for everyone involved.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most people, what would that be?
I’d introduce some way of using your local network to repair and reuse technical appliances like toasters, TVs, and fridges and reduce the need to produce so many new items. It is no longer sustainable to produce and ship things at the rate we are today.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Connect with me on LinkedIn, I’d love to get to know you!
Don't miss out on the latest tips, insights, software recommendations, and expert advice from The Ecomm Manager. Subscribe to our newsletter today!
More great ECM content: