Planning a seamless e-commerce shipping strategy can be a daunting prospect for any small business; after all, it is a key part of any online retailer. Although the world of shipping can seem scary and complex on the surface, with thorough research and planning, you can make the right choices for your business to ensure your customers have a great experience.
How to Get Started with Shipping from Your Online Store
In this post we’re detailing some of the most important aspects to get you started on setting up your shipping solutions.
Before you can ship your products out to your customers, you need to ensure they are packaged safely enough to be transported. Damage in transit is the number one reason for customer returns and complaints, and this is largely caused by insufficient packaging. As such, it’s important to carefully consider the types of packaging best suited to your products.
Corrugated, double-walled cardboard boxes are not only affordable when purchased in bulk, but they are a good choice for shipping a wide range of items. If your products are in any way fragile, it is wise to cushion the inside of the box with materials such as bubble wrap, so as to provide impact protection to the product as it travels through various stages of transit.
Keep in mind, however, that the cost of shipping is often based on the size or weight of the parcel, or often both in combination. So, try to keep your packaging as small and as light as possible, and do away with any unnecessary excessive packaging, otherwise costs add up.
Don’t forget that your packaging can also act as an extension of your brand. So, once you’ve covered all of the safety bases, think of how the style of packaging that you use can contribute to your customer’s overall experience and how it reflects your brand’s message. After all, small details go such a long way in making exceptional impressions on customers.
Choosing your courier
Relying on a courier service to fulfill your shipments can almost feel like handing your entire business into the hands of a stranger. With some thought put into choosing your courier, however, it certainly doesn’t have to be that way.
Use a courier comparison service to get a clear idea of the variety of services available to you and be sure to take into consideration some of the most important aspects, such as the delivery service type, the delivery speed, the reliability and, of course, the cost.
If you offer worldwide shipping, remember that different courier services will offer different services for domestic and international shipping.
Calculating shipping costs
Perhaps one of the trickiest parts of building your shipping strategy is figuring out your shipping costs. If you don’t do adequate research, you could actually end up losing money on shipping. Before finalizing your pricing, you should consider every little charge, because everything quickly adds up in the shipping business. Take the time to map out all of the costs associated with getting your product into your customers’ hands, and then calculate accordingly.
There are a few options that come with this. The first, and perhaps most popular due to its effectiveness in reducing shopping cart abandonment, is offering your customers free shipping. However, to make this attractive option work, you have to make sure that you cover all of the bases. You could pay the full price of shipping, but this will eat away at your profit margins. From a business perspective, that isn’t ideal. One of the most popular ways to offer this option is by offering it on a minimum order amount. While it means you pay out for the shipping costs, it helps to increase your average order value.
Alternatively, you could offer your customers options when it comes to the type of shipping service they want. You could offer live pricing from various couriers and let customers make the selection in your online store.
International shipping regulations
If you offer worldwide shipping, it is imperative that you thoroughly research international shipping regulations. Shipments coming in from or being delivered outside of the European Union legally must undergo rigorous customs checks to control the import and export of goods. Regulations vary between each and every country; however, you will always be required to declare the shipment, its value, and whether it is a gift or a commercial item.
If you are not adequately prepared for international shipping, you could risk customers’ orders being severely delayed, or your customer could be charged extortionate duty and taxes on their purchase. With that in mind, take the time to research international shipping regulations thoroughly. If your customer will be required to pay customs fees when the package reaches them, you should include this somewhere within your shipping disclaimer.
Order tracking and customer support
Order tracking not only offers an element of security from your side of things, but when combined with the option of customer support, it gives your customers peace of mind when they choose to purchase from you.
Allowing your customers to track their order every step of the way, as well as keeping an open line of communication between the courier, your business and your customer is a great way to ensure your customers receive a positive experience when they purchase from you. With most courier services, tracking is relatively inexpensive and is built into the price.
Should your customer have an issue with their delivery, the tracking information gives a record to refer to, and providing them with telephone or email support gives them the reassurance that your business cares.
Our guest author is Stuart Cooke, blog writer at Irish Parcels.