Thinking of starting an eCommerce business, or just wanting to brush up on some shipping best practices? You’ve come to the right place. You can have a great product, but the delivery of it can make all the difference. In fact, your shipping policies can attract new buyers, build brand loyalty, and increase customer satisfaction! So here are six eCommerce shipping best practices you should follow.
1. Offer Free Shipping
The idea of offering free shipping can make small businesses cringe, because shipping can be a big expense. However, with Amazon and other retail giants popularizing it, most customers expect it—in fact, 9 out of 10 consumers say free shipping is their biggest incentive to shop online.
On top of that, today’s consumer has many options, so unless you’re selling a very niche product that they can’t get elsewhere, they’re more likely to pass you by in favor of a seller who’s offering to ship for free. This means you’ll need to accept lower profit margins on your product or increase the price of the product to make up the difference.
2. Be Transparent About Shipping Costs
Simply can’t afford to offer free shipping? The next best option then is to be transparent about eCommerce shipping costs. One of the biggest frustrations for buyers is to only learn the cost of shipping at the end of their transaction, in which case they may abandon their cart and look elsewhere (estimates reveal that 55% of abandoned carts are due to shipping costs).
Rather than blindsiding them with shipping fees, you can adopt a flat-rate shipping system that provides the fee upfront, or allow them to enter their zip code before they’ve progressed to the checkout so that the eCommerce shipping costs can be calculated earlier in the transaction.
3. Provide an Estimated Shipping Date
Along with free shipping, Amazon has also made speed of delivery a priority for customers. Unless something is coming from overseas or is a custom-made item, most customers simply aren’t willing to wait a week or more to receive an item.
The majority of respondents in a survey of 2,815 U.S. consumers state that an acceptable delivery wait time was 3-5 days. There was one caveat—90% say they are willing to wait longer for delivery of an online order in exchange for free shipping.
4. Ship Products Appropriately
As a small business, you may not be able to provide personalized packaging like some of the big guys, but that doesn’t mean you should just drop your product in a box and ship it off, either. You should still make sure that your product is shipping in an appropriately-sized box and wrapped securely if it’s fragile. This will also help to ensure fewer returns due to breakage.
5. Send Shipping Notifications
Customers like to know the status of their delivery. In a survey, 82% of consumers said it was important that retailers proactively communicate every fulfillment and delivery stage, with 45% saying they track order status by text and 85% using email to stay updated.
By implementing a system of communication that notifies your customers of their product’s whereabouts every step of the way, you can create more trust and provide a more positive experience. This is especially important when your delivery times are lengthier and your customers are likely to become more anxious.
6. Take Responsibility for Shipping Problems
A lot can happen to your package once it leaves your hands. It can be delayed in transit, delivered to the wrong destination, arrive damage, or be lost completely. While none of these may be your fault, your customer won’t see it this way, and they will want you to make things right.
As soon as you’re made aware of a problem, you should contact the carrier to try to resolve the situation. Making good on the problem could come down to offering a discount on the next order for delays, or replacing the item if it’s damaged or lost.
Get Into “Ship Shape” with The Fulfillment Lab
While these six eCommerce shipping best practices should help startups and small businesses succeed, you may eventually decide you no longer want to be responsible for shipping. Outsourcing to a fulfillment center is a great solution!
At The Fulfillment Lab, we can help you to save money on eCommerce shipping costs and much more. Check out our blog 10 Reasons to Use a Fulfillment Center for Your Ecommerce Shipping and then contact us to learn more about how we can boost your business and your bottom line!