A good eCommerce business recognises that their shopping experience is just as important as for traditional retail, but many forget that shipping is an integral part of that experience.
Research shows that 56% of consumers have abandoned their shopping cart because of unexpected shipping costs. Your shipping strategy should find the balance between pleasing your customers and controlling your costs.
Consider your product and your customer
Shipping is far from one size fits all and what works for one business might be all wrong for another. The most obvious differentiator is product.
Small, light or regular-sized products are easier to estimate shipping costs for so lend themselves well to flat-rate shipping fees.
On the other hand, products that are fragile, large, or require special packaging may need to have more tailored shipping fees. For particular product categories such as fast fashion, customers often expect fast or express shipping.
Next up, who is your customer?
No doubt you’ve invested resources in identifying and catering to your target market so don’t drive them away with an unsuitable shipping strategy. Large numbers of rural customers will drive up your delivery costs while B2B customers are generally more willing to pay for shipping. Knowing your customers means knowing how they want to receive their purchases.
Want to learn how leading Australian retailers price their shipping? Check our article on shipping strategies that drive profitability.
Everyone is busy – could scheduled delivery set you apart?
For customers in high-density metro locations, there may be no safe place to leave deliveries when no one is home. Scheduled delivery may be a particularly attractive option in these cases because it allows your customers to select a delivery time that suits them at checkout.
Scheduled delivery is also perfect for perishable or very high-value products. If your customers are willing to pay for speed and convenience, this could be a great option to have in the mix.
Free shipping – is it always best?
Free shipping can be a very attractive drawcard for your customers but we all know that free doesn’t really mean free. Shipping costs will need to be accounted for and recuperated elsewhere. However, when it works, free shipping can be a great way to set your business apart from the competition.
Free shipping doesn’t have to be just a cost for your business. Research shows that customers are willing to spend more on products with free shipping. You may find that the cost of offering free shipping can be partially offset by the resulting increased sales.
A free shipping threshold could be a happy medium
Customers are also often willing to buy more products when free shipping is available. If free shipping isn’t an option for your business, you might consider a free shipping threshold. Be deliberate when setting this figure, take into account your existing average order value and other factors. You want to encourage shoppers to buy more without driving them away with an unrealistic ask.
Integrate your shipping strategy into your marketing
It’s a familiar situation, filling your online shopping cart only to be hit with second thoughts when faced with unexpected shipping costs. Your customers are no different. Being upfront about shipping costs prevents unpleasant surprises and keeps your customers onside. This is especially easy to do if you have a flat shipping rate or a free shipping threshold.
Free or reduced shipping can also be deployed as a special offer or promotion. For example, you could reward loyalty by including a free shipping code in your tracking alerts.
Click and Collect – shipping that isn’t shipped
For an eCommerce business that also has brick and mortar locations, Click and Collect can be a great option. Customers can order online, then be notified when their purchase is ready to collect from the store of their choosing. This gives consumers express shipping timing without incurring express shipping costs.
This system necessitates a sophisticated inventory management system and is generally easier for retailers that also ship from store. Nevertheless, the investment can pay dividends by giving your customers the delivery choice that suits their schedules and preferences.
Returns – shipping doesn’t end at delivery
53% of Australian online shoppers will check a retailer’s returns policy before making a purchase. Customers are more likely to buy when they know that the returns process is simple. This means that an underdeveloped returns policy could be hurting your sales. Rather than thinking of returns as a straight loss, consider it an opportunity to create a positive shopping experience, which is likely to lead to repeat customers.
Want to take your shipping strategy even further? Read our eBook on how to turn shipping into a money maker.