When you start your eCommerce store, you put a lot of thought into the products that you want to sell. What the look and feel of the store should be and, which marketing techniques you are going to use to attract customers.
Not much thought goes into what shipping you will offer, well not at first anyway. But, developing a great shipping strategy can put you leaps and bounds ahead of your competitors.
If you never sold anything on eBay, you might assume a great shipping strategy is to lower your product prices and then add shipping costs.
The low product prices would bring customers in and them favour you over other stores. But when they reach the checkout, disappointment can strike!
There is nothing worse than making your customers feel like they are being ripped off! If you adopt this strategy, it’s extremely likely that you will see a high rate of shopping cart abandonment. And quite a few unhappy customers.
On the opposite end of the argument, you can’t offer free shipping to every single customer. It would be difficult to offer this on every single order. To cover the cost of shipping, you would very likely end up eating into your profit margins.
A great deal of research will need to go into how much you are spending on your shipping and how much you can afford not charge your customers.
L2 Research recently conducted a report where it surveyed brands about their shipping methods. 79% of those brands offered free shipping and 59% offered shipping, but with a minimum spend required.
Offering free delivery if you spend a certain amount is a popular strategy. Customers are always happy to get free shipping. Most will not mind purchasing something extra to avoid having to pay any shipping fees. At the same time, you are driving up the average value of your orders.
We understand that coming to the right decision about what shipping method suits you best is an easy task. We have put together eight tips to help you build the perfect shipping strategy for your eCommerce store and enable you to compete with brick and mortar businesses.
Tip 1 – Packaging
It’s all about the packaging. Bear in mind that your package is the only physical contact that your customers will have with your business. So, it needs to wow them and also reflect your brand. Ensure that the package is not only well presented, but looks like it was packed with care. For added effects, you should include a personal note with the product, as well as a special offer for being a great customer. It is always a good idea to include a catalogue of your current season for new customers too. These little things will help generate future sales for your business.
Tip 2: Offer free shipping
We already touched on this issue and it is not a question of whether you want to do it since you know that all your customers would welcome this service. The real question is whether you will be able to financially justify this service. You will need to analyse your sales figures and decide whether it is right for you. Don’t be afraid to go down the “minimum spend” route, most eCommerce stores do this. Having a balance between an amount you want it to be and an amount that’s not going to put off your customers is another issue.
Tip 3: Offer free returns
Even if you don’t offer free shipping, this is something you definitely need to do. This shows that you have faith in your customers and also won’t make them doubly bitter if they don’t like the order. There is nothing more annoying for the customer than receiving the wrong product. Or realising that it just isn’t suitable for you. To have to pay to get a refund in those situations would just be a kick in the teeth!
Also, if you are selling items that are difficult to size, such as clothes, then it will encourage your customers to buy the items in various sizes if they can return them for free. It will make things more flexible for the consumer and they will be more likely to shop with you again. Ensure that you add a returns label and instructions with each order to make it as easy as possible for them to return their item.
Tip 4: Offer rushed delivery options
Everyone does a bit of last minute shopping, whether it is for a holiday or someone’s birthday that they had forgotten! But there is always a situation where you need an item urgently but online shopping means you have to wait for a delivery. If you offer express delivery such as Next Day services, your customers are likely to be willing to pay extra to guarantee their items arriving on time. This will put you ahead of competitors who don’t offer these services.
Tip 5: Offer membership perks.
If you reward your loyal customers, they are more likely to keep coming back and recommend you to others. Take Amazon Prime membership for example, every member gets access to free next day delivery, plus a library full of TV shows and films, online cloud storage and various other perks.
Whilst these things aren’t technically “free” as there is a fee that goes alongside this, the one-time fee for consistent “free shipping” is definitely an attractive option for those that shop at your store regularly.
Tip 6: Associate with trusted companies
If you are dealing with well-respected companies, then your customers are more likely to trust you. For example, you can use a fulfilment service like Fulfilment By Amazon, where they will manage your items and pack and distribute them. Your customers will be happier as it feels like they are dealing with a company that they already trust.
Tip 7: Offer promotions
You can offer promotions for a limited amount of time.It is always good to promote an offer on your store. You should always set a time limit for your sale to encourage customers to shop before the sale is over.
Tip 8: Compare couriers
At the end of the day, these are the guys who are going to charge you to ship the goods and so you need to do your research on which company offer the best value for money. Each has their own policy, so just check out which one is the best for you and your business.
If you sign up for a free ParcelBright account, you can how much each courier would charge you.