In 2002, Polly Liu was one of those stressed brides. "I pored over stacks of bridal magazines, browsed wedding websites and visited numerous bridal shops for ideas," Liu recalls. "It was so frustrating when I found the same products with each vendor."
Shortly after the wedding, Liu and new husband Ed created a one-stop shopping experience offering a variety of personalized favors at reasonable prices. "We named it Beau-coup from the French phrase merci beaucoup which means thank you very much," she said.
In the beginning, Liu ran the online retailer out of their small apartment in Northern California. "I was a one-woman company. I processed all of the orders and printed the labels from the same computer," she said. "I also spent a lot of time standing in line waiting to ship packages at my local drug store because it was the only place that stayed open late."
Demand continues to grow as more brides choose to order their wedding favors online. With Liu's small business booming she needed a more efficient shipping solution. "I did a lot of research and discovered UPS offered the best options for residential ground delivery…with the best rates."
Over the next 10 years, the e-retailer experienced tremendous growth and became a $16 million-a-year operation. Beau-coup also started selling favors, supplies and decorations for baby showers, baptisms and birthdays. In 2011, the site received more than 11 million online visits.
CUSTOMER COMES FIRST
With so many online retailers catering to brides and party planners, CEO Tom Cole leverages the company's customer service to stay ahead of the competition. "Our error rate is less than one percent," he says. "We often upgrade shipping if we know the packages won't arrive in time."
To attract new - and retain loyal - customers, Beau-coup offers free ground shipping in the U.S. and Canada, a popular service more companies are providing. If brides need their supplies quickly, they can easily upgrade to UPS Next Day Air®. "We are not in the business to miss events," Liu said. "We use every service UPS offers to get products there on time. We have a guaranteed delivery date."
Liu says a large portion of Beau-coup's business is from return customers. "If a customer doesn't receive their package in time, we'll refund their order. It's that simple."
Beau-coup's shipping volume qualifies the company as a UPS Preferred® Customer. Representatives are available every business day via phone, email or live chat to resolve any shipping issues or concerns. Liu recalls how one representative, Paula, provided extra care with a customer who needed to cancel a baby shower order after the child died unexpectedly. Using UPS Delivery Intercept®, Paula personally made sure the packages were not delivered and returned to the distribution center.
Customer service soared to new levels in 2010 when Beau-coup offered Free and Easy Returns. Customers are able to print a return UPS shipping label and drop off the package at any UPS shipping location. "If a customer wants to return anything for any reason, they can do it for free and we'll pay for it," Liu says. "It's costly, but I feel if a bride orders something and decides later that she really doesn't want it, she should be able to return it without hassle."
Brides around the world are shopping on Beau-coup.com. "One couple from Saudi Arabia wanted silver-plated salt and pepper shakers for all of their guests. They paid thousands of dollars in shipping alone," Liu recalls. For those international shipments Beau-coup uses UPS Paperless® Invoice. The service helps clear customs using electronic data instead of paper forms and reduces the company's environmental impact.
With a sizable percentage of Beau-coup's orders shipped by third-party suppliers, UPS Account Executive Michele Carlson integrated Quantum View® as a solution. The web-based
application monitors shipments from the distribution center to the final destination. With Quantum View Manage, the staff can schedule inbound and outbound shipments and track packages. The service reduces the number of customer service calls by automatically emailing the tracking number to the customer.
Liu, who is busy taking care of two small children, knows time is important. "We have the fastest processing and shipping in the industry. We package every order with care and monitor each shipment. I want our customers to feel good when they receive a package from us."