Shipping plays an important role in your eCommerce business. After your eCommerce website that makes an indirect contact with you and your customers, it is the shipping part of any eCommerce business that makes or breaks your company since it directly impacts the customer and your business. No customer would like to receive a damaged product, a product days late after the promised delivery date or a product with a prohibitive shipping cost. Hence, shipping plays a vital role in making or breaking the customer experience vis-à-vis the product you are offering which may be of best quality. But it doesn’t stop the wrath of the customer if it is delivered late. Hence, in order to steadily increase your profits and maintain your brand image, shipping plays a vital role. Below are presented nine different ways for ensuring a better shipping experience for your customers.
- Picking the right shipping supplies
The four major factors that need to be considered while shipping any product are the weight, protection, aesthetics and price of shipping. As far as weight of the shipping package is concerned, you should remember that shipping carriers charge based on the size of the package, weight and destination. Hence, it is quite obvious that you will save money by using lighter and smaller packaging as compared to large and heavy boxes. Hence, the name of the game is to optimize the size and weight of the packaging material before shipping itself for keeping the cost factor under control. For protection, you should take care use the appropriate packaging material that is attuned as per the product you are shipping. As far as aesthetics of the packaging goes, it is intrinsically linked to your brand experience. Many eCommerce companies are personalizing and customizing their packaging so that they stand apart from the hordes of their competitors. Hence, eCommerce companies should be creative in this department. While saving money on shipping is desirable, you should not do it at the cost of your brand image. Hence, don’t try to use too small boxes or with insufficient cushioning material. This all can create adverse impression of your brand if you don’t follow the advice.
- Let your creativity flow in packaging
Since now you know what criteria you need to follow in your shipping supplies, it is time to select such kind of supplies that work in tandem with the products you are shipping. These include boxes, bubble mailers, poly mailers and cushioning. In the case of boxes, select corrugated mailers that are great for shipping books or heavy duty packaging material for heavier objects. While selecting the ideal box, make sure you leave two inches on each side of the box for accommodating cushioning material. Bubble mailers are preferred dude to their light weight. If you want to ship clothing, poly mailers are the ideal choice due to their light weight and moisture resistance. Using bubble wrap, foam rolls, peanuts, air pillows or a combination of these materials is ideal since it is an inexpensive way of ensuring your product against damage.
- Supply inventory should not be ignored
Majority of the eCommerce companies invest a lot of resources and effort into managing their product inventory, but what about supply inventory? Those same methods you utilize to track quantities, locations, bundles, and re-order points can be applied to managing shipping supplies as well. Remember, boxes, bubble mailers, cushioning supplies are an important part of your packaging strategy and you should keep track of their quantities in your warehouse so that you don’t ever run out of such materials. Using the locations feature allows you to put your shipping supplies in whatever location you want in your warehouse without having to worry about manually rearranging the item when more stock is in and also makes it easier to find individual items. The same technology that you use for bundling your products can be used to bundle certain supplies as well. Also, you should employ the concept of reordering in which your system automatically reorders a product once your supplies dipped below a certain custom or predetermined quantity.
- What kind of shipping do you offer?
There are three straightforward answers to this question. The first is that you wouldn’t charge for shipping ever, the second is that you plan to keep things simple and charge an average amount for shipping. The third and the most complex answer would be that you would like to charge each customer the actual amount it costs to ship their order. Free shipping is the ideal situation and is good for your customers as well. It helps you to cope up with your cut throat competitors. However, shipping costs money and hence if you offer free shipping you may in turn have to resort to increasing the cost of your products since shipping costs money and you will have to cover for those costs somehow.
Charging a flat rate of average shipping costs is another way of approaching this situation. This may also take the form of a flat rate per product, or a banded flat rate where the shipping is x dollars for order value worth $30, x-5 dollars for order value worth $75 and free shipping after the order value exceeds $100. Charging the actual costs of shipping is the best way to cover up your shipping costs, but it is also the most complex of tasks in shipping. Your eCommerce platform will need to introduce the facility where your customers can calculate their exact shipping costs based on the weight, volume and distance covered. This can get intricate and an expensive preposition for your eCommerce website.
- Will you allow part shipping of orders?
Consider a scenario where a customer of yours five items in total, but you have only four items in stock. Will you hold these four items back until the fifth one comes or will you first ship the four available items and ship the fifth item when it arrives? It can also happen that you have products spread out in more than one dispatch warehouse, and you need to fulfill an order with stock from two different warehouses? These are particularly important questions for an eCommerce company, particularly for their website and thus their website should be able to manage part shipping and backorders from within their website. Another scenario to consider is how you will track the orders that have been subject to part shipping so that they don’t get forgotten when the remaining items arrive in your warehouse stock. You will have to ensure that there are systems to address such issues and to notify the customers when they can expect their order to get fulfilled completely.
- Are you willing to ship overseas?
This question has a number of consequences for the cost and complexity of your online webstore. While you tab the foreign markets, the aspect of shipping is the foremost in your mind. You need to be prepared to run into a lot of complexities since the tax regimes of every country is different and you will have to consider things such as import duties, etc. In addition, the policies of shipping for each and every foreign country will be different and you will have to check in with your legal and tax experts so that you are on the safer side and not violating any of the taxation laws while shipping from the host country to the country of origin.
- Can customers collect their orders?
This is also a very complex question that you need to decide in advance before you frame your policies for your eCommerce store. If yes, do you have a physical location where customers can visit to collect their orders, and you will have to staff that facility adequately to manage the regular trickle or stream of customers not only to collect their orders but to return faulty orders. You also need to make clear whether you will allow your customers to collect their orders so we can have that option at the checkout, since you will still have to charge some amount of shipping or handling if you wish so to cover the cost of shipping till your collection facility. You should also consider the factor that whether you have one or more collection facility and your eCommerce website should be configured to display the location of your nearest collection center as per the address provided by your customer.
- Will you provide tracking information to your customers?
It has become a normal practice for the eCommerce websites to send their customers an email notification when their order has been shipped from the warehouse. It is also becoming common practice to include tracking information of the shipment in that email also. If you want to provide tracking information to your customers, there are several ways to do it. The type of method that you choose will determine the cost of including this feature. The first method includes inserting the tracking code into each order email or if your eCommerce website supports the feature, tracking the code against the order itself so it is automatically inserted in any subsequently email related to that order. All this is relatively inexpensive since you do most of the work here.
However, if your eCommerce website has an integration module with your shipping partner, it should be able to retrieve and insert the tracking code for you. This feature comes handy for larger online stores that handle significant number of orders each day. At the next level, some shipping integration modules will even update the order by checking the delivery status with the shipping company on a regular basis. These updates can be used to trigger update emails to your customers as their orders gets near to be fulfilled.
- Are you willing to consider free shipping as an incentive?
Even though this question is more pertinent to the marketing division of your company rather than a shipping question. But still you can consider this option by creating a sense of urgency amongst your customers and boosting your sales. This can be in the form of offers like ‘free shipping till Sunday’. If you want to be able to offer free shipping in this form, you need to ensure that your shopping cart has a feature that supports coupons or discounts. Coupons are linked to individual orders and are only triggered if a coupon code is entered at the checkout. Discounts, on the other hand, tend to be applied automatically, e.g. get 10% off your first order and things like that. Hence, your eCommerce website needs to be having the feature of handling coupons or discounts if you want to avail such kind of offers to your customers.