Unless you are an e-Commerce shopper in the Caribbean or Latin America, you may not have heard of Aeropost. The 30-year-old services company provides shopping, payment and last-mile delivery support for e-Tailers (including major players like Amazon and eBay) in 40 countries throughout the region.
In addition to its web site, Aeropost operates 100 storefronts throughout the region that function as e-Commerce service centers. The locations are equipped with web-connected terminals and staffed with purchasing assistants who can help novice e-Commerce shoppers navigate different sites to find the items they’re seeking. Shoppers can pay for their purchases either in cash or with a credit card, and they can pick up the items they’ve ordered at the Aeropost store rather than dealing with the vagaries of last-mile fulfillment — a big benefit in countries that lack a strong delivery and shipping infrastructure.
Until recently, however, Aeropost lacked the means to organize its wealth of customer data, or to test ways to improve merchandising, marketing and its user experience to boost sales and conversions. In mid-2016 Aeropost implemented solutions from Qubit that have helped the company:
• Double the amount of web site traffic producing the brand’s highest conversion rate (10X the site average);
• Generating a full week’s worth of sales in 30 minutes as part of a multi-country 30th anniversary promotion; and
• Use personalization to encourage its current delivery-only customers to add shopping and payment functions to their Aeropost experience.
“It’s a classic retail mantra that the best customer is your current loyal customer,” said Nicolas Maslowski, CMO of Aeropost in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Many of our customers were doing the work of shopping at different retail sites on their own, and then employing just our delivery experience. However, once they had our portal in front of them, many began adopting it really quickly. We’ve seen up to 50% of our current customers shifting from just using delivery services to the entire shopping/paying/delivery experience.”
Eliminating Cross-Border Commerce Hurdles
Aeropost was founded 30 years ago solely as a delivery/fulfillment company, and it added payment functions five years ago. Now, “We are able to automatically give customers a final guaranteed price for home delivery, including tariffs, duties, shipping costs, etc., but 60% of our customers prefer to pick up their orders at one of our stores,” said Maslowski.
Taming A Multi-Retailer Merchandising Model
While handling more elements of the shopper journey has expanded Aeropost’s business, it has also increased the need for a greater understanding of customers and their preferences. Aeropost already had “a huge amount of data going through the point-of-sale that allows for personalization,” said Maslowski, but the company lacked the tools to harness and use this data effectively.
Qubit offered “enough specific retail industry experience to add to our learning curve, but they also were flexible enough for our specific business case,” said Maslowski. “For example, we don’t have our own product catalogs because we’re working with other retailers’ catalogs, and they are huge. There are a lot of customers buying ‘long tail’ products, everything from auto parts to toys,” he added. “We sell millions of products per year and deliver millions of packages, but on a weekly basis no single item is repeated more than 21 times. How do you merchandise with this long a tail?”
Aeropost started to get answers to these questions soon after implementing the Qubit solution in mid-2016. “We started harvesting customer data to give us direction and do quantitative experiments, which are even more valuable if you’re creating a new model of ‘meta-retail’,” said Maslowski. “We needed to know the best way for our customers to find products. Did we point them to different stores but then ask them to come back to our site? Did we align with the search bars that Amazon and eBay use? What route is going to lead to the highest conversion?”
The 30/30/30 Celebration Creates A Data Bonanza
The solutions really proved their worth with Aeropost’s 30th anniversary celebration, held September 30, 2016, beginning at 3:30 pm and running for 30 minutes in each country Aeropost operates in. “We were operating in four different time zones, which helped us spread the traffic and the surge of demand for IT to prep and distribute the load,” said Maslowski. “The promotion generated an additional week’s worth of sales in those 30-minute periods, with a lower cost of conversion.”
The promotion did more than increase sales, however; it also gave Aeropost valuable information about its customers and their shopping patterns. “The idea was if we gave our customers a free shipping incentive they would show us what they want,” said Maslowski. “If I gave you 30 minutes of free shipping, what would you do? Buy more of the same things, or different things? If you were buying toys, would you consider buying clothing?”
The Qubit tools allowed Aeropost to manage both the promotion and the data-gathering aspects within the short, tightly defined time period of the anniversary sale.
In 2017, Aeropost will be looking for ways to leverage personalization and audience segmentation even further. “As our site becomes more personalized and functional, we will be able to get our partners to send more traffic to the site, and also track where the traffic is coming from,” noted Maslowski. “We also may be able to get better deals from our alliances based on data about our customers’ purchase patterns, and reward our loyal customers with these offers.”