The process of shipping can be a daunting and confusing process to many. It’s easy to get lost in search of the best rates or the most reliable courier. However, it’s an intrinsic part of any retail business and a procedure that could make or break your business, so it’s important to get it right.
In this post we will discuss some of the key issues facing those who ship, including packaging, the different options to present to customers, and how to maintain the same standard of shipping as your business grows.
Cardboard boxes and packaging is not something most people get particularly excited about. However, it is possible to create something that both you and your customers will enjoy; custom designed packaging is one way of doing this. Just be aware that some caution is needed, as it can become expensive very quickly.
If you are fairly new to online selling it would be worth measuring up your products and finding the closest size possible. You can then fill any excess space with packing peanuts, air bags or corrugated roll. As an added benefit these options are fairly cheap and lightweight.
However, be careful not to be excessive with packaging; carriers charge with respect to size and weight of your product, and this could eat into your profit margin.
It’s worth stressing the point of checking your chosen carrier’s shipping specifications before posting anything. These are standard measurements, including size, weight and how to address a label, along with advice on packaging materials for heavy duty and fragile items.
Make sure to invest in a digital shipping scale (they’re not expensive – you can pick them up for about $20) so you can accurately weigh your packages. A small investment compared to the money you will save on surcharges for not providing the right parcel weight.
If you do have money to spare, it’s worth looking into custom packaging. As not only does this reinforce your brand’s image, but it also makes for great shareable material!
Get personal with people!
Us humans are now so used to automated messages that a little human touch goes a long way; this example from HEX is fantastic. They sent out 13,000 handwritten notes to their customers every single year, and it pays off.
When packaging your product, it gives you a great opportunity to include inserts or flyers to cross-sell some of your products. Have any hard to shift stock items? Give them an offer with a deadline, this will produce a sense of urgency for the customer.
It’s worth noting that a staggering 88% of consumers would be willing to shop with you if the option of free delivery was offered. Free delivery is prioritised by many over, e.g. the time it takes to deliver the parcel; 83% of shoppers are happy to wait an extra two days just to receive free delivery.
This study from eConsultancy shows the extent that people are willing to go to, in order to qualify for free shipping:
Be careful with free returns however; the German marketplace for shoes and fashion ‘Zalando’ had to change their slogan from “Scream for joy – or return it”, to just “Scream for joy”, due to the high volume of returns they received.
SHIPPING YOUR PRODUCTS
It’s worth looking at more than just one shipping provider, as rates can vary considerably based on a number of factors including size and weight of product, country and insurance policies.
Having insurance is important, as some courier companies are providing a shockingly terrible service, with the rate of dissatisfied customers reaching up to 60% in some cases.
Most importantly take note that these shipping companies will represent your business, so it’s important that you choose wisely.
You may find that using several couriers might be beneficial, as they can have different rates based on the size and weight of your products. With a good inventory management software solution you would be able to pull all your orders into one place and automatically set shipping rules against them. Not only that, but you would then be able to bulk print all your shipping labels instantly from one dashboard.
If you ship a considerable amount, it may be worth look into a multi-courier software solution. These are companies that will act as an intermediary between you and the shipping providers to take the hassle out of shipping. Due to their large order volumes they will be able to negotiate special discounts. Furthermore, their software will let you track your deliveries, manage returns, and offer a variety of online tools to manage your shipping more efficiently, all in one place. They will also be the main point of contact for any queries you may have.
Having this set up reduces the amount of admin tasks that fill up your day. This time can now be used to focus on growing your business – what’s not to like?!