Coast: BigCommerce & StarShipIT deliver a first class customer experience
We spoke to founder of New Zealand luxury brand Coast and eCommerce success story, Alex Webster, about his experiences with StarShipIT and BigCommerce. As a power user for over 7 years, Alex has given us some valuable insights and user experiences.
It was 2003, when New Zealand last hosted the America’s Cup – and Alex and his wife Nicola had returned to NZ. The two newlyweds were looking for a change from banking and they came up with the idea of creating a luxury premium NZ brand. Today, after 15 years and a lot of hard graft, they have built up a successful eCommerce business that specialises in luxury outdoor bean bags, canvas luggage and textiles.
Before StarShipIT, the biggest frustration for Alex was that he was forced to use essentially 19th century technology to solve fulfilment problems. Everything else they did was capable of automation and until they reached that last step of fulfilling the order, it became a manual process almost literally licking stamps and putting it on a parcel.
“When you first start out, you are so grateful for the orders you get that you would be happy to hand-deliver them yourself. The moment they start to pile up you realise that manual processes are far too inefficient and that there must be a better way.”
What were the key factors you considered when selecting your shipping technology solution, and decide on StarShipIT?
Integration really is the key here. Almost everything that we do is now automated to a certain extent. When that chain hits a manual process, it inevitably becomes a bottleneck. If you multiply that extra time spent on any manual process by the number of orders you receive per day it can become a significant problem and major overhead. Automation and integration is the key.
The StarShipIT team is innovative and highly responsive and the platform only gets better and better In short, StarShipIT has been a game-changer for our business and we cannot imagine life without it.
What issues did you face when you started shipping internationally? How did StarShipIT overcome these challenges?
The biggest issues again was a lack of automation and having to fill in those green customs forms for everything and having no means by which to automate it. That was a really frustrating and time-consuming period for us.
Moreover, when things go wrong with international shipping it was much harder to trace and resolve the issue. Order fulfilment automation helps us to eliminate errors with documentation, addressing etc and trace-ability helps us to solve problems almost before they arise.
Tell us why you chose Big Commerce?
We came across to BigCommerce because it enabled us to do all the things that we wanted to do – in terms of aesthetics and functionality – without having always to hire a developer to do them. BigCommerce is a powerful platform with all the features that we require and yet the set up and maintenance of the site is much more straightforward than with other platforms we have used.
There are obviously other platforms that offer simplicity, but where BigCommerce differentiates itself from others, is that it is more powerful, more intuitive and more flexible, so the constraints are fewer and the possibilities are greater.
BigCommerce combines a powerful feature-set with a simple, intuitive user interface, which has allowed us to develop and maintain a world-class e-commerce site without incurring a significant overhead.
What tangible benefits do you enjoy using BigCommerce and StarShipIT together?
The combination of BigCommerce and StarShipIT allows us to deliver an excellent customer experience. The website is fast and easy to navigate and the check-out experience is intuitive and quick. StarShipIT then allows us to get our goods into the hands of the customer promptly and with complete visibility.
Transparency – which is to say, traceability – is a huge advantage: The customer can track their order from the moment it is placed, which cuts down on customer service calls and makes the customer feel much better about the online experience.
This is a powerful benefit for our customers where a shipping notification email contains the link that takes the customer to the branded tracking info page. We can also send customised shipping notifications via text, keeping them updated of changes in the order’s status.
StarShipIT has delivered enormous productivity gains while virtually eliminating errors. Moreover, it allows us to deliver a first-class customer experience, which is essential when selling high-value goods: Full integration with our e-commerce platform (Bigcommerce) and ERP allows orders to be shipped promptly and with full visibility. This transparency improves the overall customer experience and helps to eliminate a large proportion of customer service calls.
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