Learn how to handle eCommerce shipping and delivery process. Managing the shipping and delivery is one of the costliest processes of running an eCommerce store. Therefore, you need a proper shipping strategy to keep the charges low while offering an unparalleled purchasing experience for your customers.
How to handle eCommerce shipping and delivery
Going through the following topics will help you to define a proper shipping and delivery strategy for your eCommerce business.
- How to charge shipping rates from your online customers
- Calculate eCommerce shipping rates
- How to use packaging to promote your eCommerce business
- Insurance, tracking, custom forms, and duties
- How to print eCommerce shipping labels
- Advantages and disadvantages of using a third-party fulfilment service
That is almost everything you need to know about how to handle eCommerce shipping and delivery to run a frictionless business process. Let us get started.
How to charge shipping rates from your online customers
There are three basic methods to charge for eCommerce shipping. And, the use of these methods depends on what you sell and the delivery method that you choose.
Shipping is not free. However, if you can include the shipping cost into the product pricing, you can offer free shipping to your customers and increase your chances of getting more sales.
People love free shipping when they compare products online. Also, when you offer a free service, customers don’t usually be so angry about shipping delays. Therefore, if you are selling low-ticket items, and if adding the shipping costs into your products’ prices won’t make them look like overpriced, it makes sense to go for free shipping.
Some sellers also reduce their profit margins to keep the product prices low when offering free shipping. But, if you do so, make sure to properly analyze your finances to without strangling your business to death. Read more on: The #1 business mistake to avoid as an entrepreneur.
Charging the full carrier rates
If you have a technology to include a shipping rate calculator into your eCommerce store, you can let customers pay the exact shipping charge for their delivery. You can do this by using the apps and plugins that can generate shipping options and rate calculations based on the geolocation of your customers.
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Charging a flat rate
You can also make it less complicated by charging a flat shipping rate from your customers. And, going one step further, you can set flat shipping rates within different geographical areas as well. For example, you can define a flat shipping rate for all the customers in NewYork, and another flat shipping rate for the customers in Texas.
However, when you set flat rate shipping, do not drastically overprice your shipping. So, rather than just thinking about delivery distances, consider the number of sales that you are getting from those areas. For example, you can let the shipping cost to eat a part of your profit margin for a long-distance sale that rarely occurs, and define a reasonable shipping rate focusing the area that gives you the highest number of sales.
Calculate eCommerce shipping rates
Ecommerce shipping rates are calculated based on several factors.
- Origin location and destination location
- Additional features like insurance and tracking options
Also, shipping rates can differ based on some additional service that you would get from the carriers. For example, one carrier service might offer better customer care than another service, and their rates can be slightly higher. Therefore, below we have included links to the shipping calculators from popular carrier services. So, you can calculate and choose the best carrier to work with.
- USPS – Shipping Calculator
- UK Royal Mail – Shipping Calculator
- Australia Post – Shipping Calculator
- UPS – Shipping Calculator
- FedEx – Shipping Calculator
How to use packaging to promote your eCommerce business
Do not consider eCommerce shipping only as a cost for your business. There are different ways to use your packaging and shipping process as a marketing channel to promote your business.
Use packaging to promote your business
Today the competition in eCommerce is so high, and many novelty businesses do a little extra to get a competitive edge. And, product packaging is such an area where you can do a bit extra to make a pleasant and memorable purchasing experience for your customers.
For example, from adding a simple thank you note to packing your products in customized wrappings, you can do many things that can set you apart from your competition.
With your thank you note, you can motivate your customers to share their reviews on social media or add more promotional material for cross-selling opportunities. Also, if you can include special packaging, you can pay YouTubers to create unboxing videos for your products, which can be used as a part of your marketing strategy.
Use shipping rates to make more sales
Do you know that you can even use the shipping rate discounts to entice your customers to buy more? For example, you can offer free shipping based on the order values to motivate your customers to add more items to their shopping carts. Also, giving them discounts for priority or fast shipping options can create a pleasant online shopping experience for your buyers. Likewise, eCommerce shipping is not just a regular way of delivering your products to your customers. It can do much better than that.
What else to consider when packing for eCommerce shipping
Apart from using the packaging as a promotional strategy, you need to consider a more about safety and cost factors associated with packing as well.
Use standard packing sizes
Using irregular packagings sizes can cost you a fortune in the long run. Therefore, if possible, always pick standard shipping box and envelope sizes to reduce shipping rates. Usually, you can buy or get free packing material from your shipping carrier. But, if you are planning to go for customized branded packing boxes and envelopes, make sure to pick standard sizes.
Buy standard packaging material
Don’t waste time searching for packing materials for products. Buy them all in one place.
Pack small, and tight
The shipping rates are calculated based on the volumetric weight. Therefore, by packing it small and tight can reduce your shipping rates as well as packaging costs.
Damages can occur anytime during the shipping process. And it can only be a cost for your business. Even if you get the product cost covered by insurance, it will still cost a positive review from a customer. Therefore, pick packing material to avoid damages due to physical impacts, water seepage, etc.
Insurance, tracking, custom forms, and duties
Now, let’s dig a little deeper into the eCommerce shipping process and see how those behind the scene processes work.
Getting insurance for eCommerce shipping
Depending on the shipping carrier and plan you choose, you might either get complimentary insurance for your packages or will have to buy insurance. Especially if you are selling high-ticket items, it always better to pay a little extra amount and get insurance coverage. Otherwise, you will have to bear the costs from your pocket.
Using the tracking option
Tracking information is very important when it comes to handling delayed shipments. Once a delivery gets delayed, your customers will lose their temper, and it can cost you a lot to make it up for them. However, by sending the tracking no as soon as you ship the package, they can check the status of their packaging from time to time. Then, you can keep your customer service lines clear from impatient customers inquiring about their deliveries from time to time. So, it is always better to use shipping with tracking enabled.
Custom forms and paying duties in eCommerce shipping
If you are planning to ship your products outside of the country of origin, you need to include custom declaration forms to inform the custom officials about what is in your shipment. If you do not fill those forms correctly, your packages will be held at the customs, and your buyer will have to go through a lot of hassles clearing them out.
The best place to get those forms is from your post offices. Also, you can get those forms and learn about the customs policies from your shipping carrier as well. Most of the shipping carriers let you fill those forms online, and print them along with the shipping labels.
- USPS Customs Information
- DHL Express
- UK Royal Mail Customs Information
- Australia Post Customs Information
How to print eCommerce shipping labels
A shipping label is a printed or hand-written note that you stick on to your package, which includes the sender’s and recipients addresses, content, weight, tracking codes, contact details, declarations, etc. In the beginning, you can even write those labels manually, and stick them onto your packages, and pay the postage separately.
However, almost all the shipping carriers offer shipping label generators on their websites. That means you can fill all those information online, pay the shipping charge, and download your shipping label and other declaration forms in pdf format. Then, you can use a regular printer or a label printer to print them. This way is more convenient and time-saving when it comes to batch printing labels and forms as you scale-up your eCommerce business.
Pro Tip: Delivery packages can often get exposed to rain and humid conditions. Therefore, avoid using inkjet printers for label printing, as the print can get smudged and unreadable. Also, if you are not using thermal printed polyester labels, enclose your printed labels in a plastic cover to protect it from water.
Buy a thermal label printer
Print high-quality and smudge-free labels using a thermal label printer.
Advantages and disadvantages of using a third-party fulfillment service
Using a third party fulfilment service can make your eCommerce shipping process a lot easier for you. When you use a fulfilment service, you can store your inventory in their warehouses, and when you get an order, they will pick, pack, and ship your products to your customers.
Advantages of using a fulfilment service
- Get cheaper and pre-negotiated shipping rates – Reputed fulfilment services usually get pre-negotiated lower shipping rates from shipping carriers. Therefore, by using their services, you can enjoy lower shipping rates for your packages.
- Reduce the delivery time – When you are selling on other countries or distant locations, you can pick a fulfilment service in that region. So, it can drastically reduce your delivery time and cost. For example, if you use Amazon fulfilment service (FBA) they offer free one-day shipping to all Amazon prime members. So, those kinds of services can look great for your marketing.
Disadvantages of using a fulfilment service
- Extra costs – Fulfilment services charge additional fees for holding your inventory, picking, packing, and other warehouse processes. So, you need to evaluate your costs properly to see if external fulfilment service is the right option for you.
eCommerce shipping and delivery made easy
Shipping and delivery services are growing faster than ever. Now you can enjoy competitive services, lower costs, and better benefits from shipping carriers that it was a few years ago. And, all these make your eCommerce shipping process more accessible and affordable.
In this guide, we have discussed how to handle eCommerce shipping. We have discussed how to charge the shipping rates from customers, how to reduce shipping rates, and how to use packaging and shipping to promote your business. Then we have learnt technical stuff about eCommerce shipping, like insurance, tracking, custom declarations, duties, and printing shipping labels.
So, now you are ready to build a low-cost yet effective shipping strategy for your eCommerce business. Let’s get started then.
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