Finding the ideal shipping process for your eCommerce business, choosing whether or not to have branded packaging, and deciding if you can offer free shipping to your customers is similar to the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears; you try out different techniques until you find one that works best for you. Unlike the fairy tale, the options that are “just right” might change as the eCommerce industry evolves. You’re allowed to change processes that no longer work for your business, especially if they’ll help you stand out from your competitors.
We’ve created three different sections that revolve around your shipping process, branding, and free shipping. Now, these solutions may or may not work for your business, and that’s okay! Think of this as an opportunity to re-evaluate some of your current workflows before the busy holiday season.
How can you take advantage of shipping automation?
Unlike big online retailers, you might be limited in your resources. This means the processing of all of your orders falls upon your shoulders or your small team’s shoulders, while bigger businesses have entire teams dedicated to the task. That’s why shipping automation can be a game-changer.
When you first hear the phrase “shipping automation,” it sounds like something you’d have to hire outside assistance with and/or spend hours researching, right? For our users, it’s as simple as logging into your ShippingEasy account. Regardless of plan level, all ShippingEasy users have access to Shipping Rules, which are cause and effect (If/Then, in this case) statements. These rules then apply specific conditions to your shipments to save you the hassle of having to apply things one by one. Some examples of Shipping 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’s quick (typically 2-3 day delivery) and affordable.
- 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, so setting up rules to cover the weights of those items will help you get them ready to ship a lot faster. This can be especially helpful if your store does not have weights set up yet or you don’t have an integrated scale.
- Assign orders to a specific user. It can be a pain to have to assign individual orders to specific users on your team. Failing to assign orders can create problems, such as multiple people trying to process the same order. You can avoid these issues with a Shipping Rule to assign different types of orders to different users. This is also helpful if you have staff fulfilling orders in different locations so that nothing is missed.
- Assign a package and dimensions to your shipments. Save time by automatically assigning packaging to your orders. You’ll have to create custom packaging and shipping presets, but adding these will help you save more time in the long run.
What does your packaging say about your business?
We understand that inflation and supply chain issues are really hurting a lot of businesses right now, so this might not be the most viable option for your business. And again, that’s okay! If cheap or free shipping supplies are a better option, you have other options available ⸺ you can add customization to your packing slips and email templates to add personalized touches to your packaging. However, if you do have the resources to look at other means of packaging, branded packaging is something you can look into.
When your package reaches your customer, your business becomes more real than it was in the eCommerce space. Not only are your customers getting the product they ordered, but they’re also getting it from YOUR business. When you’re looking to add more branding to your orders, here are some questions to ask yourself:
- 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 your products packed?
- Did you provide easy instructions and a label for returning the product if the customer needs to?
- Did you add 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?
Look at your orders from a customer’s perspective. The closer you look at the way you pack your products, the more options you’ll see for appealing to your customers and encouraging them to choose your business in the future. Even something as simple as using the free Branded Tracking feature within your ShippingEasy account can add a personal touch to your order that makes a lasting impression with your customers.
Note: Some carriers/services and marketplaces have restrictions for branded packaging and other promotional materials, so reach out to your carrier or marketplace directly to avoid any penalties.
Should you include free shipping for your customers?
Today’s online shoppers sometimes expect free shipping, but free shipping may not be right for your business. Free shipping is something that helps you compete with bigger marketplaces like Amazon’s Prime services, but 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 ways you can offer free shipping without doing so outright. There are also ways to get around offering free shipping by providing other incentives your customers may enjoy.
There is no definitive way to approach the idea of free shipping because it depends on what your customers value. According to a recent study by Invesp, 58% of customers are likely to add more items to their cart to qualify for free shipping. This means instead of offering free shipping on every purchase, you could set a threshold for free shipping. You can also create incentives for customers who reach that threshold by giving them a certain percentage off their next purchase or early access to a new item similar to the ones they purchased. If you’re going to offer any sort of free shipping, using the USPS Commercial rates and UPS One Balance rates offered to ShippingEasy users will help you cut costs as well.
Learn more about ShippingEasy in our blog – Shipping Unboxed: FAQs about ShippingEasy .
Every new shipping process won’t work for your business, but it’s worth looking into alternative options to see if there are any missing pieces to include for your business. Shipping automation, customization, and free shipping are only three of the many areas you can explore. Keeping up with your competitors is something to have in the back of your mind, but ultimately, whatever works best for your business and your customers is the way to go. That includes having access to some of the best shipping rates around!