About half of Americans prefer to shop online, but 95% of Americans have shopped online at least once in the last year. Because of this, the number of e-commerce businesses has exploded.
One of the key areas you need to think about when starting your online business is shipping and logistics. Don’t have the right policies, pricing, and shipping times and potential customers will abandon their cart.
Follow these tips on small business shipping and save those sales
The Right Packaging
Your packaging does two things, protect your product and be your customer’s first impression. If you use custom packaging, you give a sense of professionalism.
It isn’t uncommon for retailers to see return rates of 30% on their orders. You can help control this percentage by having high-quality packaging that will prevent your item from getting damaged. After all, 20% of returns are a result of damage to the product.
Have a Fair and Clear Return Policy
You can save yourself a lot of logistic headaches by having a clear return policy.
Your customers will also appreciate it as 60% of consumers actively seek out and read the return policy before clicking the buy button. If you plan to pay for the return shipping cost, you need to factor this into your shipping budget.
Have a Free Shipping Option
Look at your pricing structure to determine how you can offer a free shipping option. About 28% of shoppers say they will abandon a purchase if the shipping is too high.
If you can’t offer free shipping for all orders, consider figuring out at what purchase amount threshold you can. This is why you see some online retailers offering free shipping on orders of $100 or more.
Don’t we all just love tracking? As soon as we complete an order, we start looking for that email that says our item has shipped and here is your tracking number.
Offering tracking can make your e-commerce business stand out as only 31% provide email tracking for shipments. This is a disconnect as 78% of shoppers want this service.
One of the most common tracking tips is to use a shipping service that automatically includes tracking codes on all of your shipping labels.
Charge What You’re Charged
If free shipping is outside of your capabilities, opt for the strategy of transparency. Consumers want to know exactly what it costs to ship, so show them.
With this method, you pass the shipping cost along to the consumer, which helps keep your shipping costs down. You also gain trust with your customers by being transparent.
Set up real-time shipment quoting as a part of the checkout process. You can use a weight calculator to determine quotes. You could set it up to quote based on negotiated rates you have with specific carriers.
As your business grows, you will soon realize that your orders overwhelm your abilities. You can reduce your overall logistics costs by outsourcing the entire process. Look for a service that offers to warehouse, pick and pull, pack, and ship.
It can be expensive for you to rent warehouse space on your own. But when you use a service, they can leverage the entire need of their clients to rent a much larger space.
They will also leverage everyone’s shipping needs to negotiate lower rates. This is called volume pricing.
Accurately Track Your Inventory
Most of the tips on this list so far have focused on reducing costs and increasing sales through adjusting your logistics systems. This tip focuses on knowing where your inventory is.
Invest in an inventory tracking system. When you accurately track your inventory, you can reduce your lost profit from inventory that just “magically disappears.”
You may also not realize that the cost of carrying too much inventory can be as much as 29% of your inventory’s value. The cost of this excess inventory can start to negatively affect your bottom line.
What About Drop Shipping?
If you are willing to give up control of the shipping process, you can arrange for drop shipping. You manage your online storefront and orders. But every order gets handed over to the manufacturer or wholesaler for shipping.
The advantage of this is that you no longer have to worry about managing your inventory. The downside is you give up a lot of control and trust your company’s reputation to someone else performing their job.
Have Scalability in Mind
Sure, your shipping process works right now. What happens when you have an order spike or your order volume significantly increases?
If you don’t keep scalability in mind, you will quickly find that you can’t keep up with the orders. This leads to customer dissatisfaction.
Know what the thresholds are for volume discounts. This will help you keep costs down.
Create a plan for how you will adjust your processes as order volume increases. For example, in the beginning, you can process one shipment at a time. This will become impractical, and then you will want to consider batch processing.
Be a Pro at Small Business Shipping
When it comes to managing logistics as a small e-commerce business, you need to balance consumer expectations with your business’ capabilities. Look at ways to reduce your shipping costs by investing in quality packaging to reduce returns from damage.
Consider offering different methods for shipping. This will give you the greatest chance of capturing sales and reducing shopping cart abandonment.
Small business shipping will eventually become overwhelming, and when that happens, it’s time to consider outsourcing.
Check out the business section of our blog for more advice on succeeding in business.