New to the whole “ecommerce” thing?
Welcome to the club! Ecommerce offers a world of opportunities to business owners – literally! There are customers all over the world looking for products just like yours, and it’s time to get out there, market your unique point of difference, and watch the sales come rolling in with the help of some killer shipping and marketing strategies.
Wait… what was that last bit?
Ecommerce isn’t all fun and games – far from it. It takes marketing, strategising and planning to be successful, especially when it comes to putting together a shipping strategy which a) doesn’t break the bank, b) gets parcels to customers on time and c) keeps customers coming back for more.
Need some guidance on how to ship products to your customers? We’re here to help. In this blog, we share four tips for new ecommerce business owners who are keen to build a strong shipping strategy from the ground up.
#1. Put together a crack team of marketers, web developers, and shipping gurus
Let’s face it – Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was Apple, eBay or Amazon. A successful ecommerce business requires a crack team of digital experts, from marketing to shipping and fulfillment.
Before even launching a new online business, we recommend getting together an A-Team of ecommerce, including the following:
- Marketing: your marketing team will be the ones promoting your awesome shipping strategies and promotions. For example, your marketing team might spruik “free shipping this week – be quick” across social media and email automation, bringing more customers to your website and increasing your average order value.
- Web developers: a web developer or designer will help ensure your website’s usability is top-tier, ensure you have the correct shipping software in place, and maintain said software to keep things chugging along from sunup to sundown. Web developers are crucial for any ecommerce team!
- Fulfillment: your fulfillment team is in charge of picking, packing and posting orders as fast as possible, keeping customers happy and stock flying out the door. Your fulfillment team can also flag any issues with the current shipping strategy and help work towards a new one.
- Customer service: you want to keep customers happy, so a friendly customer service team is crucial for your operation. Your customer service team should understand the business, the customer journey, and be able to answer questions on the fly. Hey, they may even be able to take care of your live chat for you!
#2. Calculate your shipping costs and capabilities
The next step is to consider shipping costs and your capabilities to offer shipping at a reduced price. Research has shown that 9 out of 10 customers think free shipping is the number one incentive to checkout online, and orders with free shipping average around 30% higher in value than orders with shipping costs.
However, before offering cheap-as-chips shipping, we recommend reviewing shipping costs vs. profit margins. For most ecommerce business owners, shipping and related costs like insurance are considered a business expense, so if you’re not careful, you could end up losing money on shipping.
The cost of shipping depends on four things:
- Package/item size
- Package/item weight
- Origin country
- Destination country.
Of course, you’ll find different prices from different couriers, and the trick is to shop around for quotes until you find a price you can afford, but also meets the delivery needs of your customers.
To get started and help determine the ideal shipping price for your products, ecommerce platform Shopify has provided a simple example to calculate shipping costs (subject to change based on your unique internal costs):
Using the table above, you can determine how much shipping really costs your business, and the result can help you find a courier quote to suit your business. At Transdirect, we work with a huge range of couriers and offer instant quotes on our homepage, so finding a quote is easy!
#3. Be transparent with customers about shipping
So, you’ve found an affordable courier who meets all your shipping needs, whether you’re looking to post nationally or internationally. You’re feeling confident about the price and you’ve determined that shipping will have minimal impact on your bottom line.
The marketing team is stoked – shipping costs can go up on the website for the whole world to see!
Now, the next step is to maintain full transparency with customers around shipping costs on the website. Not all deliveries cost the same – it depends on the item, the packaging requirements, and the delivery location.
There are three options when it comes to transparent shipping:
- Offer flat-rate (or free) shipping and cop the extra costs
- Add a detailed shipping policy which is accessible via the product pages and the footer menu
- Add a shipping calculator to product pages and, if necessary, the checkout process for last-minute calculations.
Adding a shipping policy to the website should be a standard – some customers like to read the fine print, but also it’s a document filled with clear details and rules when it comes to shipping and returns. You can refer back to this document whenever you need to educate customers on your shipping policies.
However, if you’re not offering flat-rate shipping, we definitely recommend adding a shipping calculator to your product pages.
In 2019, 53% of customers abandoned cart due to unforeseen costs like shipping and taxes – so it’s important for customers to be able to find or calculate accurate shipping info with minimal fuss to deter them from leaving without a purchase.
We have a postage calculator which is perfect for ecommerce business owners selling across platforms like eBay. Make sure to download a shipping calculator to keep your customers in the loop about additional shipping costs!
#4. Get creative with packaging to protect products and boost brand awareness
Back in the day, we didn’t put a lot of thought into postage packaging – we just needed our parcels to get from point A to point B without getting damaged. While the same premise still rings true, packaging can now also be used for marketing purposes, and with the right creative idea, you could keep customers coming back for more!
Take Dollar Shave Club, for example.
Rather than just sending razors, razor heads and shaving butter in a standard soft envelope, Dollar Shave Club sends a full “welcome” kit complete with intricate protective boxing, imprinted logos, a welcome message (“welcome… and now, your first box”) and a wide range of informational leaflets to help new members of the Dollar Shave Club get to know the business.
It’s neat, it’s minimalist, and it’s got a cool vintage feel their customers seem to love.
Or consider Flora and Fauna, one of Australia’s up-and-coming ethical product ecommerce stores:
Image: Styling You
Sticking with the environmentally friendly theme, Flora and Fauna pack their recyclable boxes with shredded paper which can also be recycled when you’re done. The shredded paper protects their food and beauty products, so your items take no damage in transit while having no major impact on the environment.
Additionally, their logo is imprinted on the top of the box, so when you sign for your parcel, you know exactly where it’s coming from. No guessing – your parcel is officially here.
Get creative with your packaging – it’s great for marketing, creating user-generated content (unboxing on YouTube, photos and videos on social media), plus spreading the good word about your awesome packaging!
Take the ecommerce world by storm with these bulletproof shipping tips
The ecommerce world ain’t the simplest book in the library, especially when you’re new to the business. However, there are some simple things you can do to get your business on the right path, especially when it comes to shipping.
As we mentioned above, hiring a crack team of marketers, developers and fulfillment specialists will win half the battle. Experts in each of their fields, these team members can guide you through the process and provide educated advice on your shipping strategies, plus you can learn from each other throughout the business ownership journey.
Then, it comes down to determining what you can afford as a business in terms of shipping, couriers, and shipping insurance, plus how creative you want to be with your packaging!
At Transdirect, we’re here to help ecommerce business owners new and old to find an affordable courier and streamline their shipping services.