3 Common Shipping Mistakes E-Commerce Merchants Make

May 1, 2021
| by David Miles

Is your online store delivering the goods? * Yes.

*With a super-fast turnaround getting to your customer within 24 hours while also being cost-efficient for your business? Probably not.

It’s no mystery that customers expect more from E-Commerce merchants than ever before. Looking back even just a decade, a standard delivery time of 3–5 working days was no issue. Now? With E-Commerce giants like Amazon and eBay setting the norm as Next Day Delivery, and even offering same-day drone delivery services — a long delivery time will likely cost you a sale.

But, that’s not to say e-commerce businesses of all sizes should miss out because they just can’t afford to keep up with the tech giants of the modern world. There’s enough room on the internet for everyone. It’s not possible for everyone to provide the same service as Amazon, but the key to success is finding the middle ground: A balance between what the customer wants, and what’s cost-efficient for you.

While finding this balance, it’s easy to feel the pressure from your customers, give up, and just offer them free, next day delivery. But in the world of business, nothing is ever ‘free’, and shipping ends up costing you an arm and a leg…

We’ve highlighted three common mistakes businesses make when it comes to shipping, so you can look to avoid these in the future and save your bottom line.

1. It’s not just a process; let your packaging speak for your brand

Fulfillment, packing, and shipping; some of the more mundane aspects of building your E-Commerce business. What might seem like a plain process of getting goods to customers, can actually reflect your brand significantly.

Around two-thirds of online customers believe that the way their order is packaged shows how much the business cares about their order and custom.

So, while the internet continues to troll Amazon over its oversized boxes and excessive packaging, your brand can learn from these mistakes to build a better reputation.

Avoiding mixed material packaging (such as using both plastics and paper) so that it can be easily recycled is just one simple step for building your brand’s reputation: It shows you’re looking to be a little more sustainable and kinder to the world — something which is hugely important to the 2020 consumer.

In contrast, using beautiful packaging may actually lead to more sales. Fast fashion brands that use brightly colored packaging, tissue papers, and printed boxes all make it into the world of Instagram — where their packaging is instantly recognized and adored by their cult-like following.

In fact, 1 in 5 consumers admits to watching an ‘unboxing’ video on YouTube or Instagram which means a lot of your customers will see how your products are packaged before even visiting your website.

By creating a cool shopping experience through your packaging, your business becomes a brand, and will soon attract more customers looking for something a little more special.

Another packaging dilemma to consider is the size of the box you use to ship out orders: One size does not fit all. Smaller containers are cheaper to ship, but if not packaged well can jeopardize the protection of the item inside. By adjusting the size of your packaging to the item you’re shipping, you can save yourself money as well as reduce waste at the customer’s end.

2. Regularly compare shipping charges

Offering free shipping is the quickest and easiest way to drive customers to the checkout. When offering free shipping, however, you need to find a different way to offset the price it costs you to deliver the goods — and this is often integrated into the price of the item itself.

Once you’ve set up your site, and have decided on couriers to work with, the journey doesn’t end there. Keep up to date with shipment prices across the board. You will find that costs are constantly changing, and as couriers try to win more business from their competitors, it’s more likely you’ll be able to get a cheaper deal elsewhere.

You can handle this in two ways: Constantly switch couriers to avoid overpriced shipments, or speak to your courier service about price matching the other suppliers. Your current courier will want to keep your business, and therefore may be willing to match their competitor’s price to keep you. This is perfect if your courier offers integration within your online store platform, as it will be much less complicated than constantly switching delivery services.

By keeping up to date with shipping costs, you can adjust your product prices accordingly: Helping you maintain a nice profit while potentially offering your customers a cheaper price.

If you do decide to charge customers for shipping, you don’t need to make a profit on delivery costs, so can charge the customer exactly how much it will cost to ship. This puts the decision back into the customer’s hands as to whether speed or price is more important to them.

3. Use an Address Lookup tool at the checkout

You’ve probably visited an online store before and had to use your zip code to find your address in a drop-down menu. This is an address lookup tool and although it might cost something to integrate into your store, it can actually save you a lot of time and money in the long run.

With so many automations available for online businesses now, being able to automate your orders and label printing means there’s just one less job for you to do. But by automatically printing labels, you miss the step where you can double-check the address; and if that address is wrong, it might go unchanged. This can lead to parcels being returned to you as the address is incomplete or incorrect — meaning you’ll have an unhappy customer as well as having to pay more to ship it out again.

By using an address lookup tool, you allow the customer to find their address on the system so that both you and they know it’s completely correct. That way, you can rest assured your label printing will go on without any hiccups.

These are just three ways to revamp your shipping process to save you money and time while benefitting your customer. Why not take a look at your current system to see if there are any areas you can improve?

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