Find out how Australia’s largest online retailers handle postage and shipping, and what you can learn from them.
Every ecommerce entrepreneur who has dipped their toe into the world of postage and shipping knows that it’s a complicated business.
Deciding on how you charge for postage, where you deliver, how you provide postage quotes to customers, and how you handle returns are all make-or-break propositions for your ecommerce business.
So what’s an online retailer to do? Well, they’re not quite secrets but here’s how the big five handle postage and what you can learn from them:
What they do: Subscription-based homewares
What they’re worth: $28 million turnover in 2014
How they do postage: Temple & Webster ship Australia-wide but not overseas. Free shipping is offered on occasion as a part of some sales, but the delivery price for each order is generally displayed during the checkout process (prior to payment and order confirmation). The company also reserves the right to request additional shipping fees or cancel an order if it will incur ‘unacceptably high’ freight charges.
Delivery time: Delivery time is typically two to four weeks, with next-day delivery dispatch available for selected products.
Returns: Returns are allowed within 30 days of the date the customer received it, but return shipping is at the customer’s cost.
Temple & Webster display delivery terms on the general Terms & Conditions page, accessed via a link in their homepage footage. They also provide a separate Return & Damage policy.
What they do: General online retail
What they’re worth: $310 million annual turnover
How they do postage: Kogan delivers Australia-wide but reserves the right not to ship to remote or rural locations. Free shipping is offered on selected items. Where shipping fees apply, quote estimates are provided by postcode entry during the checkout process. Freight protection is offered as an optional extra.
Delivery time: The date of dispatch is included on product listings and varies between products.
Returns: Kogan offers a 14-day money-back guarantee on selected brands, excluding delivery charges. To qualify, undamaged products must be returned in original packaging. Return shipping is at the customer’s cost.
Kogan’s delivery terms are displayed on the Terms & Conditions page in the Customer Care menu.
What they do: Online fashion marketplace
What they’re worth: $31 million turnover in 2013
How they do postage: The Iconic offers a package tracking service on their website for registered members, and delivery times are provided for each item via a postcode box on the product page, before it’s added to your shopping cart.
Delivery time: The Iconic offer free next-day delivery to metro on purchases over $50 when ordered before 10pm on Monday to Thursday. Packages to country areas are delivered within four days.
Returns: They offer free returns for 100 days as long as the item is unused and with original tags and packaging. Return shipping is paid for by The Iconic.
The Iconic displays delivery options on their Delivery page accessed via a Delivery link on the top navigation bar on their homepage.
What they do: General retail and homewares
What they’re worth: $350 million
How they do postage: Catch of the Day customers can estimate postage costs by entering their postcode after they have added a product to the shopping cart.
Delivery time: In stock products are usually dispatched within three to five days, with express delivery available on selected items.
Returns: Catch of the Day generally does not accept change-of-mind returns. For damaged goods, a ‘return authorisation’ is given to the customer following an investigation into the nature of the product fault. If returned goods claims are rejected after inspection of the product, return shipping is at the customer’s cost.
Catch of the Day displays shipping and delivery conditions on their general Terms & Conditions pages, accessed via the Legal menu in their homepage footer.
What they do: Online bookseller
What they’re worth: $40 million annual turnover
How they do postage: Booktopia offers a flat parcel postage rate of $6.95 per order for as many items as you want. If an order requires multiple shipments due to an out-of-stock item, there is no extra shipping charge. Free shipping is occasionally offered to existing customers via email specials. The company confirms when the parcel has been dispatched via email and provides a tracking number.
Delivery time: Postage is by regular mail. Customers can upgrade to Express Post for $14.95 per order.
Returns: They do not cover return shipping costs for change-of-mind returns.
Booktopia has a dedicated Shipping menu listed in the footer of their homepage.
So what can we learn from the big five?
The Iconic is the only retailer that covers the cost of shipping for change-of-mind returns, and with free next-day delivery on purchases over $50 they seem to have the fastest and most generous shipping policy.
Booktopia makes shipping simple with a flat postage rate, and most retailers offer free shipping on selected items or as part of special deals.
And postcode entry during the checkout process is the most popular way to provide shipping quotes.
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