E-Commerce Shipping Strategy: A strong and reliable shipping service can make or break your business. In a world where same-day delivery is a very real and popular option, making customers wait too long for their goods can cost you sales and damage your reputation.
So, if you hope to compete with retail giants like Amazon, you need to get a good shipping strategy in place right away.
That said, if you’re not sure where to start, don’t panic and rush into anything.
In this guide, we take you through the delivery options you should be offering to customers, how to choose the right courier service, and anything else you need to know about getting a strong shipping strategy in place this year.
Read on to find out more.
1. Decide on your destinations
The first thing you need to do is decide how far you want to ship your goods. For example, are you keeping it local, national or do you intend to ship worldwide? You need to decide this early on as it will impact the rest of your shipping strategy.
That said, you can change this in the future if your e-commerce business expands or your target market begins to grow. So although it’s an important decision right now, it won’t impact your future growth.
2. Think about your options
The next thing you need to do is decide what delivery options you want to offer your customers. Although we said that speed is important to modern-day consumers, so is transparency. As such, you need to make sure you are realistic about your shipping options and don’t promise time frames you can’t deliver.
For the most part, companies tend to offer standard delivery, next day and occasionally nominated day delivery. You might also include international delivery if you’re shipping across the pond. So it’s important that you spend some time thinking about what your customers want and what you are prepared to offer.
3. Research shipping and courier services
Once you have settled on the above, you can begin to research shipping and courier services to see which is going to be the most efficient and cost-effective option for your business. It’s vital that you don’t rush this stage of the process.
Although the main goal of the shipping provider is to get your goods from your store or warehouse and out to the customer, e-commerce businesses often have additional needs. As such, you want to choose a service provider that ticks all the right boxes.
Some of the most important things to consider when choosing a shipping or courier service include:
- Insurance – Will they cover you if anything is lost or damaged in transit?
- Tracking – Can they offer parcel tracking to you and your customers?
- Flexible delivery options – Do they offer next day, international, overnight, etc?
- Return services – Do they offer return services and are these easy to do and understand?
- Data and security – Do they take extra security precautions throughout their delivery and logistics? Do they comply with GDPR and will they protect your customer’s data?
- Customer support – What is their customer service like? Will you have a dedicated account manager and what are their business hours?
- Costs – Are their prices fair and how do they compare to other service providers in your area?
Although it might seem like a lot to take in at this stage, when comparing shipping services, it’s important to do thorough research and ask yourself all of the above questions. By taking your time, you can ensure that you find the right shipping provider for you and your customers at a fair price.
4. Set your rates
Once you’ve chosen a shipping service, or at least begun to get a feel for the cost of couriers, you can start to think about your prices. You need to decide how much postage and packaging to charge customers without costing yourself sales or losing profits.
It can be tricky to get the balance just right, but the best thing to do before you settle on a price is to get to grips with how shipping costs work.
You need to understand the average weight and size of your parcels and how far you intend to ship them. You also need to think about the dimensions of your packages – are they small but heavy? Or big but lightweight? All of this will impact the cost of shipping. You also need to look into what your shipping services charge to factor this into your final price.
Taking all of this into account, you should be able to come up with an average price across your product range that your customers would be happy to pay.
5. Think about customs
If you intend to ship your goods abroad, you need to think about the additional costs and effort of getting your packages through customs. Some of the extra requirements might include:
- Additional packaging for protection
- Filling out customs paperwork
- Paying duties and taxes
- Returns from another country and how this would work
This often means charging more for international shipping services and this additional money, and time should be reflected in the prices on your e-commerce site. And don’t forget to check which countries you can and can’t ship your goods to. It’s no use offering worldwide shipping if you know your particular items are banned in certain countries.
If that’s the case, be sure to specify on your e-commerce site which countries are included or excluded.
6. Sort returns and exchanges
Finally, you need to ensure that you have returns and exchanges as part of your shipping strategy. Domestic returns are usually quite straightforward, and your courier service should be able to advise on how this works through their company.
International returns can be a little more tricky as customers may need to compensate you for the duties or taxes you paid to get the package to them. But either way, be sure that you fully understand how your returns will work and that you outline your policy clearly on your e-commerce website.
Once you’ve sorted all of the above, you’re ready to get shipping, and you can continue to learn and improve your strategy as you go.