Contrary to what customers think, shipping is often one of the hardest things that ecommerce businesses have to master. There’s pressure for them to do so, too. Based on average values calculated by the Baymard Institute from sources like Adobe, IBM, and SaleCycle, amounting to almost 70%, it’s shipping costs that are the lead hindrance to customer orders on ecommerce site. That means that a shipping-related issue is the number one reason for shopping cart abandonment.
What with the variety of products, sheer volume of orders, shipping options, and service areas to ship to, it’s understandable that for ecommerce entrepreneurs to worry about this area of their business. But here’s a secret that all ecommerce business owners should know: as long as you are willing to modernize the way you do your shipments, you’re guaranteed a consistent profit, higher conversion rates, and higher chances at customer retention. Pair your modernization efforts with some good old-fashioned elbow grease, coordination with your ecommerce staff, and a sharp sense of what customers need, and shipping will be less of a pain point and more of a golden opportunity.
To help you make the best of shipping, here’s a list of best practices that you should apply for your own ecommerce business. You’ll find valuable input about pricing, handling products, and pleasing your customers below.
- Explore more than one method of order fulfillment. In ecommerce, it’s a reality that some products move faster than others. They may also demand shipments in higher volumes and different requirements for storage. Given the number of situations you have to deal with, and the difference in needs for order fulfillment, it’s worth a shot to ask for additional help from order fulfillment companies USA businesses work with. The services of a third-party logistics (3PL) provider may be just what you need to up your capacities for order fulfillment, inventory management, warehousing, and delivery. And if you don’t think your customers will mind the wait on certain products, you can also opt to drop ship from the product’s manufacturers.
- Compel your customers to ship out more products, or products of higher value, with free or discounted shipping. As stated above, customers often balk at shipping costs enough to abandon their virtual carts. You can keep them from doing so—and at the same time, get them to spend more on your site—by enticing them with free or discounted shipping. It will serve you well to offer these services for a certain minimum amount in the shopping cart, such as free shipping for $50 worth of product.
- Increase your prices to offset the cost of free or discounted shipping. If you think your prices are too low for you to profit off of free shipping, address this side of the equation: increase your product prices by a little. The prospect of free or discounted shipping is often attractive enough to customers to make them spend on products of higher value. Adjusting prices may help you achieve that sweet spot of increased sales, plus frequent shipments.
- If free or discounted shipping are out of the question, then be upfront about your shipment pricing. You may not be making enough to justify free or greatly discounted shipping, and that’s okay. If you’re at the point that you still need to charge for shipping, make it a point to be transparent about what the costs will be. This will prevent shopping cart abandonment from customers who are bothered by high fees—or even worse, customers who feel deceived because they incurred hefty shipping costs without knowing exactly why. Help them prepare to pay an exact cost for shipping by offering a flat rate or a shipping calculator for their product volume. Customers are more likely to buy from you, even if you don’t offer free shipping, if they perceive you to be honest and helpful about pricing.
- Sort your products properly before they’re packed off to the customers. For ecommerce businesses that have their own warehousing facilities, it would be good to revisit your stocking practices. Make sure that the staff deployed at the warehouse know to follow the first-in, first-out policy (FIFO), which means that the older products are shipped out before the newer ones. Also practice sorting products by size, material, level of fragility, and expiry date, so that they aren’t ruined before they even reach the customer. Finish these packages off by cushioning the products (with foam pads or bubble wrap), sealing them, and ascribing them a tracking number.
- Get your customers’ feedback on their shipping experiences so that you know where exactly to improve. Lastly, pay attention to what your recipients say about their shipping experience with you. You can do this by sending them a survey to fill out after each completed order, asking them about the speed of shipment, the condition their product arrived in, and whether the whole experience was worth the price they paid. If you think they need to be motivated to send their feedback to you, incentivize them to do so by offering them a discount coupon or rewards points in return.
In summary, make sure that you’ve covered shipment pricing, logistics options, product handling, and the customer experience in your shipment operations. Taking care of these will mean that you have done justice to this aspect of ecommerce entrepreneurship.