Online shoppers are heavily influenced by shipping rates and availability when choosing what to purchase and where. Shipping options often become the customer’s deciding factor during the buying process and can make or break a purchase. Once a customer does make the decision to purchase, their experience with your store doesn’t end until the order is received as expected. Since this is such an important aspect of the overall retail experience, we’ve got to find ways to delight our customers with shipping.
Shipping Best Practices
- Display shipping costs and options up front. Customers will abandon a shopping cart because of unexpected shipping and delivery costs or limited service options revealed in the late stages of checkout. Get those shipping costs and options out in front of the customer before checkout.
- Offer free shipping whenever possible. This has become almost an expected practice for large orders. According to a recent study, free shipping is priority to 77% of online shoppers, and more than half of shoppers have added items to their carts to qualify for free shipping.
- Offer gift packaging options. This one gets you a lot of “wow.” Customers will pay extra to have their orders gift-wrapped in branded or beautifully packaged material before being placed in the delivery box. They’ll spread the word about what a great service you’re offering, too.
- Brand your labels, packing slips and invoices. Never pass up an opportunity to put your brand in front of customers. Each label, packing slip and invoice is a chance to increase your brand recognition.
- Offer automatic tracking notifications. Numerous studies have shown that US customers will opt for multiple-day shipping if it means they get it for free. Because they’re not getting the instant gratification of same-day or next-day shipping, they want to be able to track where their orders are during the shipping process.
- Offer signature requirement options. Customers frequently have packages delivered to busy offices or apartment buildings. These customers feel more peace of mind if you can require varying levels of signature upon receipt to make sure that their package is delivered to the correct recipient.
All of these best practices will help you present appealing shipping options. When you do that, you’ve got to deliver on those expectations (no pun intended) to earn repeat customers.
How to Make Sure You Deliver on Shipping
- Analyze shipping costs. Running reports of actual shipping costs can reveal information that helps you make informed decisions about which services to use when shipping certain products. Having a better understanding of your shipping costs may also help when negotiating rates with your carriers.
- Prepare for rate changes. You can expect shipping carriers to update their prices and policies every year. Rates are often updated by carriers at the beginning of each year, but sometimes the changes are implemented later. You should be prepared to transition to new rates and policies, whatever the timing. This year, for example, we’ve all seen the introduction of new dimensional weight policies and new zoned service pricing to Canada. These inevitable rate changes always have an impact on shipping practices.
- Leverage discounted rates when possible. When you’re doing a high volume of shipping, you may be eligible for discounts on carrier services. For USPS shippers, signing up for an account with a company like IntuiShip or Express1 is just smart business. They both offer substantial discounts on expedited USPS services.
- Automate your shipping processes. You could spend all day on repetitive tasks like updating your stores with tracking information, emailing customers and printing labels, invoices and packing slips. Or you can automate all of these processes with shipping software like ShipWorks. When you automate these tasks you can save hours of work each day, just like other ShipWorks customers already do. This allows you to focus on other ways to grow your business and serve your customers.
- Audit for late shipments. When you audit your shipments, you can be reimbursed for carrier shipping errors such as late deliveries, incorrect Saturday delivery charges, duplicate charges and incorrect address corrections. You can streamline this process with Refund Retriever.
Get in touch with ShipWorks on Facebook or in the comments below and share your own best practices for retail shipping. We’d love to hear from you!
Guest blog post by Wes Clayton, General Manager, ShipWorks
ShipWorks is the leading client-based shipping solution that helps high volume shippers import, organize, process, fulfill and ship orders quickly and easily from any standard PC. With integrations to 60+ shopping carts, marketplaces, package carriers and fulfillment services, ShipWorks has the most integrations of any high volume client shipping solution. Package carriers include USPS, UPS, FedEx, DHL and OnTrac. E-commerce integrations include eBay, PayPal, Amazon, ChannelAdvisor, Magento and more. ShipWorks’ automation features include custom rules, automated order imports, address validation and more, enabling quick and efficient high volume shipping.