We have met up with a range of different ecommerce managers to talk with them about their business, what works and what doesn’t – and to benefit from their knowledge. We will share this golden knowledge with you in a series of blog posts packed with interesting facts, hacks and tricks – and a rare view behind the scenes of different ecommerce shops and how they work. In this blog post:
- Read about the synergy between offline and online stores
- Find out how they manage logistics
- Get your hands on Frank Jonassen’s best tips and invaluable learnings
Megaflis is a Norwegian company selling plumbing solutions, bathroom furniture, tiles, garden equipment – everything for your home! It started out in 1997 as an offline warehouse, and we had a chat with the man, who took it from being an offline store to having an ecommerce store with a 70 million NOK turnover in 2015: Frank Jonassen.
He has shared some valuable insights on connecting online with offline and building up an ecommerce store from scratch. Get your hands on some incredibly useful tips and learnings in this post.
Present yourself and the company
I have been with Megaflis since 2002; I started as a part-time salesperson while I was in college. Then in 2005 I started doing what I do today – and I got the job because I had developed our first ecommerce.
In 2005, my primary role was head of IT, but up until today, my area of responsibility has been very broad – everything from IT, economy, our ecommerce solution and everything that comes with that – personnel, customer services and so forth. In 2009, we opened our first ecommerce store where it was possible to buy online and see our whole range of products.
Get your logistics under control
Megaflis has always strived to be the best, the fastest and the most efficient at delivering the goods to their customers. Frank Jonassen said that logistic is probably the most important thing to him and the company. Read his best logistic advice and make your customers happy by delivering their goods as fast as possible.
Free Exclusive Bonus: Download Frank Jonassen’s logistic tips.
Tell me about Megaflis’ journey
In 1997, Megaflis opened its first physical store in Oslo and the company grew exponentially – and in 2009, we opened the ecommerce on my initiative. Even though our products are complicated, and many customers would traditionally want to touch and see them in real life, bring them home and test them, we decided to see how an ecommerce solution would work for us. We started out softly with a cheap solution developed by ourselves and built up the system as we went, which we gained a lot of knowledge by doing.
Since 2009 and till 2015 we have tried to optimize the web solution to work in synergy with the physical stores.
Walk us through Megaflis’ key numbers
In 2009, I was the only one responsible for the online store, customer service, and content. It was necessary to be hands-on and listen to the customers’ feedback. The turnover wasn’t high, but the experience I gained from it was priceless.
In 2011, I hired my first employee to do customer service. That meant the customer experience improved too. I was then able to focus more on photos, texts and the site in general. The turnover doubled.
In 2013 we had three people in our customer service team, the turnover had doubled once again, and we moved to a large warehouse.
»It was necessary to be hands-on and listen to the customers’ feedback. The turnover wasn’t high, but the experience I gained from there was priceless.«Frank Jonassen
In January 2014, we changed our platform, which was an important decision. We had a self-developed platform without any advanced solutions – and we needed a platform that could support our growth. The choice ended with Magento and Trollweb as our partner. And from then on, we have experienced unbelievable growth.
Today we are 12 in the customer service team, and they are often involved in other decisions and aspects of the ecommerce store. There are no marketing managers or anything like that. In 2015, our turnover was at 70 million NOK on the ecommerce part and for the entire company, it’s over 1 billion NOK.
What is your technical setup?
Zopim is our chat system, Klarna is our checkout system and Visual Website Optimizer for A/B tests. Algolia for site-search, Nosto for recommendations and then we use a lot of self-developed solutions to tie it all together.
As an example we have created our ordering system, which is almost 100 percent automated. It services our webshop and physical stores and it works based on algorithms on what to order from our suppliers and what not to order.
How does your customer service team work?
It has always been important to us to build up and develop our employees in whichever way they enjoy. Some are interested in marketing, and they work more with that based on their wishes.
We might be a bit old fashioned in our marketing approach, so we just try to learn as we go and give our employees experiences and competencies.
»It has always been important to us to build up and develop our employees in whichever way they enjoy. Some are interested in marketing, and they work more with that based on their wishes.«Frank Jonassen
Whenever we hire someone, we don’t look for a marketing expert or SEO expert. We look for someone who is willing to grow with us during our journey.
What are your marketing goals?
First and foremost, we want to improve our newsletters. Do split tests on them and build intelligent newsletters that allow us to communicate with our customers without compromising on the goals and identity of the physical stores, as they are still our backbone.
What do you outsource?
The only thing we outsource entirely is AdWords – Ignitas has been doing that since 2013.
We are partners with Trollweb, who provides us with inputs, tips, and advice.
The advantage of choosing a major system like Magento means that there are already a lot of plugins and add-ons developed.
How do your online and offline stores work together?
We have 18 physical stores and our online store. It might not sound like a lot, but all of the physical stores are massive warehouses with larger products such as tiles, showers, and furniture. It is all tied in together by our shop system.
We have a central stock, where the online store orders from. Some of our assortment comes straight from the suppliers and producers. The internet is such an exciting opportunity to test out products and see if they sell and if we should potentially start selling them offline too.
We have meetings, where we figure out what products are popular and what products haven’t been selling that well and whether or not they should be sold offline.
»The internet is such an exciting opportunity to test out products and see if they sell and if we should potentially start selling them offline too.«Frank Jonassen
What is the coolest thing you have done?
Lately, we have changed our chat triggers. We investigated what category pages have the highest bounce rate and tried to figure out why visitors leave those pages more often. It turns out all of those pages have really complicated products that might confuse or bring the customer in doubt. We then implemented triggers on those pages like:
- Time spent on the page (maybe one minute)
- Visited x amount of pages (meaning the customer is interested)
»It turns out all of those pages have really complicated products that might confuse or bring the customer in doubt. We then implemented triggers on those pages.«Frank Jonassen
We then implemented a chat function, where a chat window popped up, asking the customer if they need any help and made them aware of us. It serves two purposes: retaining the customers and creating a good personal customer experience. The customers shouldn’t be left on their own just because they are shopping online.
Our chat function and increased service level generate a ten times higher conversion rate than when the customers haven’t been in contact with us.
What is the most stupid thing you have done?
Some things shouldn’t actually be automated at all – such as autofill names in emails because that could potentially end up in some bad mistakes and wrong names.
Last week we used some algorithms that apparently weren’t reliable in connection with the implementation of the new triggers. The system should include the customer’s name if he or she had been in contact with us before, but we only had that data for some customers, but the data wasn’t necessarily correct – it had wrong names or just email addresses.
I also once forgot a trigger which meant the chat function would pop up on all pages all the time.
What about newsletters?
We don’t do enough newsletters. We try to send out twice a week and want to improve in that area within the nearest future.
Today the newsletters promote sales, new products and maybe events in the physical stores. We experiment with pushing out online sales without compromising on the offline stores’ sales. For our newsletters, we use MailChimp and we used Apsis before that.
Do you have any useful learnings?
- Get things done! Forget lengthy decision-making processes, idea development, groups and all of that. Focus on a small team capable of doing just about anything to make the right and fast decisions. We wouldn’t have been where we are today if the process of deciding something had been incredibly long. One week of settling is too long for me. It should happen immediately.
- It has always been important for me to trust my employees enough to develop them and give them more and more responsibility. That way I avoid a massive turnover in employees as well.
- Think bigger. If I could turn back time six years, I should just have gone all in on ecommerce and have chosen a more capable platform. You can either fail big or win big.
»We wouldn’t have been where we are today if the process of deciding something had been incredibly long. One week of settling is too long for me. It should happen immediately.«Frank Jonassen
What golden advice would you pass on to others?
Create that customer experience you get in physical stores on the online store. Help the customer make decisions, relate to the customer, be interested and guide based on those interests. That can be through the chat function or the way you build categories and product pages. Engage with the customer as much as possible.
Free Exclusive Bonus: Download Frank Jonassen’s logistic tips.
It’s not over yet
That was all from Frank Jonassen, who started an ecommerce business from scratch. As you now know, it is important to make decisions fast and develop employees instead of hiring new ones.
How do you manage your employees? The more, the merrier? Or quality over quantity? Tell us in the comment field below!
Frank is also happy to answer any questions from you, and we always welcome new inputs, so don’t hesitate to get in touch!