I recently sat down with Miguel Valenzuela, Chief Marketing Officer at BikeBandit a leading online provider of OEM and aftermarket motorcycle parts, to discuss how COVID-19 has impacted the company’s business and how he’s applying some of the lessons learned to build a strong foundation for the future.
A Shift from Brick and Mortar to Online
While e-commerce was an important channel prior to the global pandemic, resulting stay at home orders, and brick and mortar closures have changed consumer behavior almost overnight and led to a tremendous surge in online commerce.
Exiting June, new users on merchant sites account for approximately 30% of overall consumer volumes versus 5% – 7% during pre-COVID-19 days.
For many merchants, this sudden boom has accelerated their digital strategies impacting all elements of the business from supply chain logistics and fulfillment to how they create a great experience to attract and retain customers.
Customer Demands Grow, Merchants Must Keep Pace
For BikeBandit, delays in the manufacturing supply chain meant that it was difficult to get products to customers in a timely manner which created a poor experience and the potential for lost revenue.
In order to offset supply chain issues and maintain trust with their loyal shoppers, Miguel knew that he had to get creative, “While we weren’t able to fulfill all of the orders, we wanted to reward customers for their loyalty so we launched a promotion that upgraded orders over $100 to next day shipping by air for items that we had in stock. There was no extra charge for the customers and it helped us stay engaged and build goodwill too.”
Preparing for the Holiday Season
Part of the learning curve experienced in COVID-19 has been the ability to scale to meet demands while still offering great customer experiences. This has been the approach of BikeBandit, who has seen that the upticks in consumer volumes amid COVID-19. As many brick and mortar retail stores will likely not re-open for the holiday season, the expectation is that online channels will see consumer transaction rates soar in the months leading up to Christmas and New Years.’ Merchants should be putting their holiday promos and deals in place now, in anticipation of these buying behaviors.
However, Forter data indicates that merchants should be ready for increases in returns fraud and abuse in the time during and following the holidays. Many merchants have put more flexible returns policies in place now to ensure better customer experience. Miguel commented, “If you’re in the e-commerce space right now, you have to understand that the customer is not touching the item, they can’t try it on. So their expectation is that they will be able to try the item and then send it back, with no added friction.” Merchants must ensure they have the proper precautions in place, to proactively protect them against opportunistic customers and fraudsters, looking to exploit these more relaxed policies in the months to come.
Building Relationships Based on Trust, With Help from Forter
During such a tumultuous time, building and keeping relationships with customers is essential to merchants’ long-term success. Miguel explained that building trust and ensuring the shopping experience meet their customers expectations, is vital. To support BikeBandit’s long term success, Miguel highlighted three key takeaways:
- Communication is Key: To succeed during COVID-19, communication with customers is key. Whether there are delays in fulfillment or shipping, or some other processing issue, merchants should also strive to be as open and transparent with their customers as possible. This will increase the likelihood of the shopper to return and feel comfortable having their personal information entrusted to the retailer.
- Adoption of an Integrated Approach to Fraud and Abuse Prevention: BikeBandit has seen first-hand how important it is to have a fraud prevention partner that provides omnichannel support. Forter assesses trust at every touch point and customer interaction, and has been able to increase BikeBandit’s revenue within a 30-40 day window after integration. Forter approved more legitimate customers and prevented BikeBandit from falsely declining these customers due to their former rules-based, restrictive systems.
Additionally, Forter has been able to help BikeBandit manage fraud across channels. The business was experiencing high volumes of fraudsters executing card testing. Fraudsters would place orders for very small amounts ($5 – $10) only to see if the stolen credit cards transacted successfully. Once BikeBandit began working with Forter, this activity all but disappeared. Fraudsters, now closed off from the online channel, instead pivoted to BikeBandit’s call centers to request help “placing a small order.” Forter’s Phone Solution was able to mitigate this new trend, understanding the different signals from the customer in combination with the requested webID, and protect the business from this form of fraud.
- Ensure Peace of Mind: Miguel commented, “I’m a firm believer in machine learning and automation,” going on to say that “Forter can get signals from many different places, including other merchants, so they can get a bigger picture, a birds’ eye view of what the situation is in real-time. So, an automated system is key.” This type of fraud prevention platform seamlessly provides real-time decisions at every point in the customer journey, giving BikeBandit peace of mind and time to focus on growing their business. With a fully automated system that proactively distinguishes legitimate consumer behavior from abuse or fraud, BikeBandit can offer their customer promotions without the fear of fraud and abuse.
To hear my full conversation with Miguel, check out the webinar recording here.