As ecommerce merchants, we spend so much of our time building our brands, finding customers, showcasing our products, and talking with distributors and manufacturers. We build connections to a larger customer base. The misconception that ecommerce is easy simply because you don’t have to deal with a storefront is not true—it definitely has its own unique challenges. The advantage of ecommerce, though, is the nearly limitless potential of reaching new customers. If you can find the customers, you can ship their order to them and keep growing. However, after all these efforts, shipping is not as cut and dry as it seems. Luckily, shipping can be simple to master. Once you understand how to incorporate shipping into your business model, it can be something that easily scales with you as your business grows. Controlling the steps of shipping—from the order source to the order’s fulfillment and back to notifying the order source—both increases positive reviews and creates customer loyalty.
A good shipping strategy also minimizes the tedium and data entry of warehouse workers, thus allowing you to further focus resources on growing your business and reaching more customers. Let’s look at Amazon, for example. Their selection and prices are good, sure, but their efficient workflow is what has allowed them to take risks and grow their business so effectively. Competing with Amazon on shipping price is not possible for many merchants, but you can compete with them on shipping speed and services. Our friends at ShipStation have put together a few options based on research they conducted regarding customer expectations.
Give More Shipping Options
Free shipping is overwhelmingly the most preferred shipping method. However, offering both a slower, standard shipping plus a more express shipping option works well to create two separate workflows that can both make for an easier fulfillment strategy and increase revenue.
Free Shipping with A Threshold
Since most consumers prefer free shipping over express shipping, consider offering a low-cost shipping option as a baseline for customers. Typically, this is done by having a flat rate you charge for shipping. If domestic customers exceed a certain order amount, such as $50 or $75, their shipping is free. These can take a longer amount of time to ship to the customer. Both USPS Priority Mail and First Class Mail take 3-4 business days to ship to a customer. Once you get the orders out the door, it usually doesn’t take much longer than express shipments take to deliver.
An Express Upgrade
Some people want their items more quickly than others. Electronics, medicine, personal care, and pet food rank among the items that consumers want to receive the quickest. Having a path for these orders to be fulfilled faster allows you to prioritize them over items with more affordable shipping options. This is where having a dedicated shipping platform comes in handy because you can set up a way to alert shippers that these need to be shipped first. Quickly shipping these express parcels demonstrates value to your customers, which builds loyalty. ShipStation found that customers are twice as likely to shop from a retailer again if the shipping experience was good.
Simplifying returns gives your customers confidence to place orders with you. Regardless of if they even plan to return their order, it still showcases your commitment to them, and it can be a simple way of increasing cart conversions. Larger retailers typically have simpler return strategies, and this leads to more conversions. If you can compete with your larger competition in services, customers are less likely to shop around.
Branding is essential for customer communications. Elevating your correspondence beyond blank templates is an excellent way to showcase more than your brand—it also creates a unique experience that eases customers’ minds that their shipment will arrive safely. To think about it in terms of standard retail shopping, it’s the difference between putting items in a plain white bag and a custom bag with your brand’s colors and logos. Beyond that, you can also include contact information that enables the communication between you and your customers and lets them track the package through your email communications with them.
How a Shipping Software Helps
Shipping software offers more than just a way to avoid copy/pasting shipping information to generate a shipping label. Whether you sell on a single platform or across multiple channels, you can sync all these orders together and create all of your day’s orders at once. Automation processes, like assigning the most affordable and quickest shipping options, as well as sending specific email notifications and packing slips lets you fulfill orders across multiple selling channels, with different requirements all at the same time. Even the best shipper makes errors, and automating shipping is a great way to avoid this. These steps allow you to fulfill orders as soon as they’re placed and compete with even your largest competitors. Regardless of how large your operation is, if you do it well, your customers will picture your operation as being top-tier and this elevates your brand and creates lasting customers.
Written by ShipStation
ShipStation is the world's leading web-based shipping solution that helps ecommerce retailers import, organize, and ship orders quickly and easily—wherever they sell, however they ship. ShipStation integrates with over 160 of the top marketplaces, selling channels, carriers, and fulfillment providers. Utilize features like auto-selecting shipping preferences, customizable automation rules, multi-carrier rate calculators and shipping, and much more.