A good-looking website, strong inventory and savvy social media strategies may be more fun to think about than cardboard boxes – yet smart e-commerce merchants know that among the most important online strategies they need to consider is their shipping. With Business Insider identifying that Amazon had over $60 billion of revenue in the last fiscal quarter, it comes as no surprise that online retailers need to factor in shipping as part of their most beneficial online selling strategies. Keeping this in mind, how can you enhance your shipping efficiency without compromising your revenue?
Following the three best practices below, you’ll not only be able to improve your customers’ shopping experiences but will also help to whittle away shipping expenses and improve your company’s profitability.
Best Practice 1: Automate Your Process
Regardless of the size of your business, there is an automation strategy to help shorten the time it takes to complete the steps between the submission of an order and the product arriving at the customer’s door. Streamline your shipping processes and reduce staff time by hiring a third party to tailor automating software to your business and administer your shipping process. According to Entrepreneur, small businesses that ship less than 500 orders per week can automate this process by combining an account with a site like Stamps.com for easy shipping options with an inexpensive platform such as Shipstation.com to help with order fulfillment and packaging. To discover more shipping solution providers, explore more here.
Best Practice 2: Evaluate Your Carrier
It is a monumental mistake to assume that all carriers are the same… or that your carrier will determine the best and most economical shipping solutions for your business. It is on you – not your carriers – to assure that you snag the fastest, cheapest, and most secure service for your company deliveries. This means that you need to know your inventory and be aware of any special packing or shipping needs you may have. A t-shirt, for example, will require different handling and care than a glass vase. You will also want to know about each company’s unique set of surcharges – such as Fed-Ex’s non-stackable charge, metro area charge, or dangerous goods charge. From there you can compare carrier deals that can reduce your overall shipping expenses. UPS Connect, for example, offers 20% off shipping costs and free pick-up. The question is, however, is this the right service for you? To help better understand your shipping needs and carrier options, consider engaging a parcel audit company such as Refund Retriever to find surcharges and to help you select the best carrier for your business.
Best Practice 3: Charge the Right Amount
While it’s necessary to pass on shipping and handling costs to the consumer, you also need to regularly evaluate the market to make sure your shipping options stay competitive. Consumer Reports points out that excessive shipping charges are the main reason customers abandon their virtual shopping carts before buying – so factoring in how to offer free shipping or reduced shipping rates is something to consider. This includes providing pre-paid shipping labels for returns. In fact, 68% of those surveyed by Shopify said free returns increase the likelihood that consumers will buy online. If there are additional shipping charges based on factors that include distance, transit time, insurance fees, or delivery location you should be transparent with your customers, as well, so that they understand upfront the additional costs before they commit to a purchase. All this said, the main takeaway is this… If you can offer your customers the perception shipping is free or affordable, they will be more inclined to buy. By incorporating your shipping charges into your product charges, customers will feel as if they are getting a deal when it comes to shipping even though you know you have your expenses covered.
Investing the time and energy to create a sensible and efficient shipping system upfront is well worth the effort. Partnering with the right shipping solution companies can position you to lower your shipping expenditures while increasing your sales revenue along the way thanks to customer-friendly shipping options. And as a result? You’ll be on your way to becoming more competitive in the ecommerce marketplace.
Take your inventory and shipping needs to the next level by joining ASD Market Week this March 11-14, 2018!
Take advantage of ASD Market Week’s 90+ free retail strategy sessions this March 11-14, 2018 in Las Vegas.
Contributed by Brian Gibbs, President of Refund Retriever. Gibbs founded Refund Retriever in 2006 while running his first eBay based business and seeing the shortcomings of other shipment auditing companies. Refund Retriever’s primary focus is FedEx and UPS parcel invoice auditing. After graduating from Texas A&M University in 2001, he then graduated from the University of Houston in 2004 with a JD and MBA. Gibbs has been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur and other publications discussing parcel auditing, shipping, e-commerce and more. Meet Gibbs and the Refund Retriever team during ASD Market Week at the Independent Retailer Conference, located in the Central Lobby.