For online businesses, shipping is an integral part of the process. If you want to keep a customer coming back and earn their repeat business, you have to ensure that the product is delivered to their satisfaction. Of course, even once you have a shipping process set up and working as intended, there is always room for improvement. As an online business owner, you know that optimizing your processes is a necessity to remain competitive, and your e-commerce shipping strategies are no exception.
The following e-commerce shipping strategies are some that you may not have taken advantage of yet. We encourage you to check them out and see how they can apply to your unique shipping needs.
3 E-Commerce Shipping Strategies to Improve Your Day-to-Day
1. Take full advantage of shipping automation.
Order processing is often time-consuming and complicated. Unlike the big online retailers out there, if you’re a small or mid-sized business, you may be limited in the resources you can devote to your shipping department. You may only have a small team that can take care of processing orders—or even a single team member responsible for the task.
Automation is a game-changer when you have limited labor and/or capital. Yes, the prospect of automation can seem daunting if you are not a tech enthusiast. But remember that you do not have to be a programmer to utilize today’s automation software, especially if you choose a SaaS (software as a service) system. Your service provider will do the heavy lifting and will be there to help you understand what your automation options are and how you can use them for your individual needs. (By the way, all ShippingEasy paid accounts include a session with an onboarding specialist to set everything up for you, at no cost to you!)
Depending on the e-commerce shipping software you are using, it should be possible to define basic rules for how packages are handled by the program. Some useful rules include:
- Assign USPS Priority Mail to packages greater than 1 lb. There are plenty of services available to ship heavier packages, but USPS Priority Mail remains the most used because it is quick (typically 2-3 day delivery) and affordable.
- Create a shipment for orders based on SKU. Automatically creating a shipment for all orders that include a specific SKU can save a great deal of time. You could even go one step further and create Product Categories—master SKUs that can be used to target multiple SKUs at once.
- Create a shipping rule to cover the weight of the items you ship most automatically. There are probably certain items that you ship more often than others. By setting up rules to cover the weights of those items you can ship them more quickly. This can be especially helpful if your store does not have weights set up yet or you do not have an integrated scale.
- Keep items that are low stock from shipping. You always want to avoid shipping low stock items, so you should create a rule in your shipping software to prevent it. It involves a few steps but can be a lifesaver for your reputation management with customers.
- Assign orders to a specific user. It can be a pain to have to assign orders to specific users singularly in your shipping software system. Failing to assign orders also can create problems, such as having multiple people try to process the same order. To avoid these issues you can tell your shipping software to assign orders to a particular user. This is also helpful if you have staff fulfilling orders in different locations to make sure nothing is missed.
- Assign a package and dimensions to your shipments. You can save time by having your shipping software automatically assign packaging to the orders you receive. There are several stages required to create this rule, but taking a bit of time to work through them will save significant time over the long-term.
2. Pay attention to what your packaging says about your business.
There are plenty of options for packaging orders before you send them out to your customers. On the surface, the best choice may seem to be the cheapest, most easily sourced packaging you can find. Throw orders in a plain box and be done with it. But taking the most affordable route can negatively impact your business—and even if it does not cause a negative impact, it will cause you to miss out on significant marketing and reputation-building opportunities.
Up until the order arrives at the home or business of the customer, everything to do with your business has been online and intangible. But when the package reaches the hands of the one who ordered it, your business can become real to the consumer. Not only are they getting the product they ordered, but they are also getting it from your business. You might as well take advantage of the opportunity to cement your brand.
Pay attention to the way you package your products. Do you use a box with your brand on it? Do you use green packaging options to appeal to a wide range of consumers? How well are the products packed? Did you provide easy instructions and a label for returning the product if the customer needs to do so? What about adding a flyer, other marketing materials, or a personalized packing slip that offers a discount on a future purchase, or one that features a recommended product the customer may love?
The closer you look at the way you pack your products, the more options you will see for appealing to your customers and encouraging them to choose your business in the future.
3. Determine whether free shipping is right for your business and your customers.
There is no denying the fact that today’s online shoppers expect and prefer free shipping. But free shipping may not be right for your business. Free shipping definitely offers opportunities to seal the deal with potential customers, but it is not something you want to commit to unless you are certain that it will be a positive choice for your bottom line.
If you’re a small or mid-sized business, you might not be able to afford to compete dollar to dollar with the largest online retailers. Fortunately, you may not have to. There are many ways you can offer free shipping without doing so outright. There are also ways to get around offering free shipping by providing other incentives customers may value.
There is no definitive way to approach the idea of free shipping because it depends on what your customers value. According to research conducted by Monetate, some retail experts claim that you can create the same incentive as free shipping by offering a discount of 20 to 25 percent. Other experts think that you can actually save money by offering free shipping over significant discounts, claiming that customers put a higher monetary value on free shipping than a similar price cut to products.
For many online businesses, the key to offering free shipping is figuring out the price point where customers are likely to buy more to receive free shipping. The number will be different for different businesses based on average order value or items per cart, but the idea is effective when applied correctly.
If the majority of your customers order around $20 of product each time they visit your store, you could set a free shipping offer at orders $25 and above. Most consumers are happy to purchase $5 more from you to access the benefits of free shipping. Even better, if most of your products are $10 or more, they will wind up spending more than the $5 to get the free shipping.
Most important of all is ensuring that you’re starting with the best possible shipping rates. E-commerce shipping is much less painful and a lot easier on your bottom line when you start from a better margin. Most shipping software providers worth their salt should offer you USPS Commercial Plus pricing. ShippingEasy goes one step further with our proprietary Flat Rate Green cubic pricing, which ends up cheaper than Priority Mail in some instances.
Here to Help You Maximize Your Shipping Processes
A good starting point to streamline your e-commerce shipping is a consultation. You can’t correct what you don’t know you’re missing out on. Our shipping experts can help you figure out where you’re missing critical optimizations in the shipping process and have you streamlined and set up before the busy holiday season kicks off. Learn more by clicking below!