Setting up and running your own eCommerce store is exciting. Owning your own business can give you freedom, control, and money. But there’s one thing that almost all eCommerce business owners hate: shipping and fulfilment.
Shipping and fulfilment for eCommerce can be a sticky, inconvenient, and time-consuming process. But it’s also absolutely necessary for your business’s success. And, as with all unenjoyable processes, if you don’t like doing it, you’re in danger of getting it wrong.
To prevent you from falling at the final hurdle – after all, shipping and fulfilment should mark the end of consumers’ journey – we’ve listed 5 tips that should make this messy process a little easier.
#1 Make Time
Shipping for eCommerce takes up more time than you may think. And, although it’s necessary, time spent packing is time taken away from growing your business. For that reason, you want it to do it as quickly possible. The best way of doing this is to plan.
How much time you need to set aside for shipping and fulfilment depends on your business. If you sell a few expensive items a week, you shouldn’t be spending days packing. (However, customers who have made an expensive purchase may expect the quality of your packaging to match the product).
If you sell lots of cheaper items, you may have to set aside a few hours each day to keep on top of it – there’s nothing worse than procrastinating till the point at which you pack into the small hours.
To avoid this, it’s good to establish a routine. This keeps the process flowing and prevents the creation of backlogs.
Your routine should take into account three key things:
- Protection – ensuring your products won’t be damaged in transit.
- Presentation – making sure your customers are thrilled when they receive their product.
- Cost – monitoring and (if possible) reducing how much your products cost to ship.
Here are a couple of articles that you might be interested in:
- Using Better Packaging To Create Positive Brand Experiences
- How to Pack and Protect an Ecommerce Shipment
#2 Get Creative with Storage
The more successful your eCommerce store, the more space you’ll need to keep your products. And finding places to keep all of your goods can be tricky. Asking friends and family may work short term, but at some point you’ll need to figure out something more stable.
If you have room on your property, you should consider buying a garden shed, an enclosed box trailer, an old truck, or an old shipping container. Shipping containers are incredibly durable and relatively cheap. They are also surprisingly versatile.
If you don’t have much space, then you may have to rent an unused garage or storage unit. The latter, of course, is more expensive.
Whatever you do, just be sure that your solution is robust and waterproof.
#3 Research International Regulations
One of the biggest benefits of eCommerce is its global potential. Even small sellers can sell to foreign climes very successfully. But there’s a catch.
Different countries have different regulations.
And this means that eCommerce business owners, especially those with small operations, face a daunting mesh of rules and legislation.
Unfortunately many merchants find it hard to access information pertaining to these regulations. This makes gathering together and studying what you need to do to be compliant incredibly difficult. But it would be crazy to let red tape and bureaucracy stymie your plans for international expansion.
Thankfully, UPS provide a little-known but very effective tool that should ensure you know what you need to do. This should be your first point of call when it comes to looking into shipping for eCommerce regulations for any country.
And remember, it’s never worth risking international expansion without knowing the law. Though most regulations are fairly easy to comply with, ignoring this rule could land you in real trouble.
#4 Be Scrupulous about Tracking
Tracking is great. No doubt. But the process is actually fairly complex. In order for packages to be tracked, they need to be localised at numerous different times during the sorting, warehousing, and delivery processes. And, of course, each successful localisation requires a signature in order to be valid.
If you’re selling cheaper products, it may not be worth your while to use package tracking – the cost of doing so may be more than your products’ worth!
On the other hand, if the goods you sell are valuable, then tracking is likely a necessity. Customers won’t be happy if their product doesn’t arrive on time (or worse, doesn’t arrive at all) and tracking allows you to see where a package went missing and who’s responsible.
We offer an easy way to track your packages from your ParcelBright dashboard. We make it easy to monitor and see where your package is. For more information about our tracking tool, click here.
#5 Learn from the Best
Companies like Amazon have set the bar pretty high when it comes to shipping for eCommerce. Their packages are secure, delivered very quickly, and they keep their customers in the loop with regular tracking notifications.
But just because Amazon is bigger than you, that doesn’t mean that your customers will be happy with a lower standard of service. You customers will hold you to a very high standard so, in order to avoid complaints and returns, it’s imperative that you meet them. Read our 8 Tips to Improve a Customer’s Shipping Experience to learn more.
ParcelBright makes it easier than ever to meet your customers’ expectations. Learn how here.
Is there something we’ve missed? We’d love to hear some of your own tips for shipping and fulfilment. Tell us them with a comment.