Picture this. You’ve found (or created) a great product, and you’re ready to put it out there. Hello world! You’re pumped. You’ve secured your inventory, set up your online store, and integrated a payment processor. You’re ready. Kind of. Not really. OK, not at all. Because you know your new eCommerce business can’t function without one core element: shipping. And you know that your shipping strategy can make or break your business.
Customers expect eCommerce shipping to be affordable and fast (and preferably free). How do you meet these expectations and give them a great customer experience without killing your margins? More importantly, where do you even begin? Figuring out shipping can be daunting if you’re new to the eCommerce world, but once you have a solid strategy, it will work to your advantage.
To get started, you need a plan. Let’s go back to basics.
1. Set your shipping rates and methods
First, you’ll need to work out an eCommerce shipping strategy that enhances the customer experience without cutting into your bottom line. The goal is to increase your average order value, expand your business, and increase your conversions.
Here are three pricing strategies to choose from; which strategy you use will depend on the underlying financials of your business.
- Offer free shipping— Whether it’s unconditional or restricted, free shipping is one of the best ways of reducing shopping cart abandonment. Someone has to pay for eCommerce shipping, though, so consider the various ways you can make it work for you.
- Charge real-time shipping carrier rates— These are the exact rates charged by carriers for a particular shipment. This shipping strategy gives your customers multiple options, allowing them to select (and pay for) the service of their choice.
- Charge a flat rate— This works well if your product range mainly consists of items that are similar in weight and size. Otherwise, you risk significantly overcharging or undercharging your customers.
You can also offer local delivery and store pick up when possible. This reduces shipping costs and attracts more local customers.
2. Calculate your shipping costs
Your shipping costs will depend on various factors, including package size, weight, origin and destination. To get an idea of what kind of shipping costs you can expect, check out the shipping calculators you’ll find on various shipping carriers’ websites. Be sure to consider using a third-party logistics (3PL) partner to get access to discounted rates with multiple shipping carriers. Shipping companies get exclusive rates that you can’t get on your own, so working with one is a great way for you to reduce your eCommerce shipping costs.
3. Weigh your packaging options (pun intended!)
You want your products to reach your customer in perfect shape, so they need to be packaged carefully for safe transport. Depending on your product, some options include cardboard boxes, envelopes (padded or unpadded), and poly mailers. To cut both, packaging and eCommerce shipping costs, aim to keep your packaging as small as possible. There are many ways to save on shipping costs, and this is one of them. Don’t go overboard with your packaging so it doesn’t eat away at your profit margins.
4. Use packaging to deliver a memorable unboxing experience
Packaging isn’t just a way to protect and deliver your product. It’s an opportunity to deliver an experience. Make an impression by using special packaging that serves as an extension of your brand. Presentation goes a long way at brick and mortar stores, so why not give your online shopper a boutique experience in their own home? If you fulfill with eShipper+, we can even replicate the unboxing experience you envision with gift wrapping, inserts, stickers, and other items that add a personal touch.
5. Include order tracking and insurance for big-ticket items
While shipment tracking and insurance are not a must, they’re a worthwhile add-on if you’re selling high value items. You’ll find that they’re relatively inexpensive and worth the peace of mind you’ll have in the rare case of package loss or damage. One thing to keep in mind when comparing eCommerce shipping prices is that some shipping services already have insurance built in, so be aware of this when shopping for competitive rates.
6. Read up on international shipping regulations
When shipping internationally, find out which forms you’ll need to include with your outgoing package. Having the proper customs documentation will prevent delays and ensure the shipment reaches its destination on time.
7. Use a warehouse for order fulfillment
If you ship more than a few packages a day, you may feel that eCommerce fulfillment is becoming a burden. Doing it yourself may cut costs, but strategically speaking, the time you spend picking, packing, and shipping can be better used to grow your business (and bring in more profit). The good news is that there are some great eCommerce solutions within your reach. Working with an eCommerce fulfillment warehouse saves you time by automating and handling your eCommerce shipping process— you’ll be able to store your inventory at a 3PL partner warehouse and have your packages picked, packed, and shipped on your behalf. The eShipper+ platform integrates with your shopping cart, so orders are automatically forwarded to the warehouse for processing and order fulfillment. Consider this option to fulfill orders faster and more efficiently.
Finding the right eCommerce shipping solutions for your business needs plenty of research and careful consideration, but consulting the experts will go a long way in helping you fulfill your business goals. Contact eShipper to find out all the ways we can help you get started!