Ecommerce Shipping Basics

ecommerce shipping

As an ecommerce seller, you’ve got a lot on your plate. From building your website to delivering excellent customer service to managing your bottom line, it’s easy to overlook one critical element of a successful ecommerce business – your ecommerce shipping plan.

When developing your shipping strategy, there’s a whole list of elements to consider. Here’s a round-up of the most important things you need to consider when developing a successful shipping strategy.

What Will You Charge?

One of the first questions you should ask yourself is whether or not to offer free shipping. After all, 93 percent of online shoppers take some sort of extra step in order to qualify for free shipping. However, while free shipping promotions help on the marketing front, it can add extra cost to your shipping budget.

There are a few different routes you can take when it comes to shipping options. You can offer free shipping as an incentive, you can charge an average amount to each customer or you can charge your customers for the actual cost of shipping. Whatever you decide to do, keep in mind that it may take some trial and error to determine the best option for your ecommerce business.

Package it Up

As customer expectations continue to rise, it’s imperative that online retailers go above and beyond the standard, and deliver an online shopping experience that is top-notch. Look at your product packaging as a way to extend your customer service and an opportunity to set your brand apart from all the others. Add in a thank you note, personalized packaging or other little details to show your customers you care about their online shopping experience.

Stick a Label on it

Now that you’ve determined how to charge customers for shipping and how to package your goods, it’s time to decide how you want to label your packages. As your business grows, hand-written labels probably won’t be an option. Look into finding an ecommerce shipping platform that allows you to print shipping labels directly from your online store or marketplace.

Package Responsibly

Depending on the types of products your business sells, you may or may not decide to provide parcel insurance. If you’re frequently shipping pricier items, it’s definitely a factor to consider.

Dispatch notifications and tracking information are two other useful tools that will help you package and ship responsibly. Help yourself keep track of shipments and provide your customers with a sense of security throughout their shopping and shipping experience.

Shipping responsibly also means making sure you’re shipping profitably. Research your shipping and packaging options so you don’t end up losing money on your shipping services.

Going International?

When shipping internationally, make sure to include the correct documentation and customs forms. Check in with the countries you will be shipping to in order to find out exactly what you’ll need to include in and on your packages.  Also, make sure your customers know whether or not additional customs fees will be charged to them. This way, they won’t be surprised about unexpected expenses at the time of delivery.

In the end, there’s no such thing as a universal shipping plan. Take the time to figure out what works and what doesn’t for your ecommerce business. Consider your cost-friendly options, your customers’ satisfaction and what’s going to make the most sense for your business to be successful.

Increase Net Promoter Scores and Grow Your Revenue

Growth

The Financial Impact of Customer Experiences

Most business owners think better customer experiences can lead to higher revenues, but no one seems to really know how much of an impact is possible. This leads to a simple question: how much revenue can be gained—or lost—due to customer experience as measured by Net Promoter Scores?

A recent article provides specific answers based on Net Promoter Scores (NPS) and revenue for two common types of online business: a transactional business selling products and a subscription business selling memberships. Before looking at the results, let’s review NPS.

About Net Promoter Scores

NPS provides a numerical rating based on the response to one simple question:

“How likely is it that you would recommend [company] to a friend or colleague?” Responses are scored based on a 0 to 10 scale and categorized as follows:

  • Promoters (score 9-10) are loyal customers.
  • Passives (score 7-8) are satisfied customers.
  • Detractors (score 0-6) are unhappy customers.

Knowing a company’s NPS suggests whether a particular customer is loyal, satisfied, or unhappy. Among other things, NPS can help to predict whether customers will continue purchasing (Promoters), might consider your competition (Passives), or will soon stop buying (Detractors).

Better Customer Experience Can Double Revenue

Want to double your revenue from existing customers? Try this:

  • Product Sales: shift customer NPS from Detractor to Promoter.
  • Membership Sales: shift customer NPS from Passive to Promoter.

Businesses that sell memberships (subscription sales) have an even greater opportunity to increase revenue by moving NPS Detractors to NPS Promoters to quadruple revenue!

The Bottom Line

Improving customer experiences is one of many ways businesses can increase revenue so every business should survey and track the NPS of each customer to support better decisions. Providing customer service may seem expensive, but it could be more affordable than investing in marketing to find new opportunities or sales to create new customers.

5 Simple Ways to Increase Holiday Online Sales

Holiday online sales competition is fierce every year, but this year the world’s largest online merchants have announced their intention to offer the deepest discounts ever. This makes it very important to focus on retaining visitors to your online store and then helping them to accomplish their holiday gift giving tasks, especially if you cannot match or beat their pricing.

Here are five tips to increase online sales during this holiday season.

1. Showcase Items With Special Prices

Online shoppers are especially price sensitive since they plan to purchase many items as gifts for themselves and others. Buyers will experience numerous advertisements from “brick and mortar” stores focused on communicating their lowest prices of the year. Meet the expectations of visitors to your online stores by showing them your biggest discounts first.

2. Offer Online Coupons to Past Customers

Reminding past customers you are an online store they have trusted and used in the past gives you an advantage over other online alternatives—your competition. If you already plan to discount prices for the holidays, communicating these discounts in the form coupons allows you to advertise and promote these special holiday prices to your best customers.

3. Make Returns Convenient for Gift Recipients

One of the factors that makes online gift giving popular is its convenience. In a single visit, a buyer can choose, purchase, and deliver gifts to many people at once. However, no one wants to be remembered for sending a gift that doesn’t fit, is the “wrong” item, or has some other perceived deficiency. Eliminate buyer’s concerns about returns to increase gift giving.

4. Prepare Your Online Store for Success

If you are like most online stores, the holiday season is your busiest time of year. This means your website will see more visitors than normal and people will probable spend more time on your website that usual. Make it your mission to ensure everyone that visits your online store has a pleasant and productive experience with a highly responsive and reliable website.

5. Address Potential Privacy and Security Concerns

E-commerce transactions involve Private Personal Information (PPI) and sensitive financial information that include names, addresses, debit/credit card details, login credentials, and more. Even the largest online merchants struggle with keeping customer information private and secure, so use extra care during the holidays and communicate these efforts to buyers.

7 Holiday Online Shopping Trends and Tips

Consumers are beginning their holiday shopping earlier every year. That’s one reason brick and mortar retailers start adding holiday-themed items to their store shelves two or three months before holiday dates. As a result, you see items for the next holiday appear on shelves as soon as the previous holiday has occurred.

You are certain to miss substantial sales this year if you start your online holiday promotions after physical stores. Halloween shopping began well before Labor Day, and Christmas shopping will begin far in advance of Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday this year.

Here are seven more reasons to get started earlier than ever this holiday season.

1. One in Four Shoppers Began Christmas Shopping Before Halloween

Shoppers increasingly desire to get an early start on their Christmas shopping so make sure you are offering the items they want when they want them.

2. Half of Shoppers Did Most of Christmas Shopping by Cyber Monday

Retailers that wait for the traditional start of Christmas shopping will miss as much as half of their sales opportunities.

3. Most Shoppers Now Research Their Purchases Online

Shoppers are increasingly relying less on friends and relatives when researching their purchases. Offer the information shoppers want.

4. More than a Third of Holiday Spending Occurs Online

Since a majority of shopping research now occurs online, rather than at physical stores, online retailers are converting this activity to sales.

5. Half of Online Shoppers Use Smartphones or Tablets

The popularity of smartphones and tablets means they have become the top devices used during online shopping, so get mobile friendly ASAP.

6. Almost of Online Shoppers Will Purchase From a New Retailer

Online shopping makes it easier to comparison shop for availability, pricing, shipping options, and more. Stay competitive to get new customers.

7. Shoppers Spent $1 Trillion Dollars with Retailers Last Year

Regardless of the state of the economy, shoppers are spending a tremendous amount of money with retailers each year.

5 Way to Increase Your Online Sales

How Much is Online Shopping Cart Abandonment Costing You?

You could be loosing 2 out of every 3 online sales opportunities!

Studies consistently show that most online shoppers abandon shopping carts during checkout. Just 1 in 3 online shoppers complete the checkout process and this results in a significant amount of lost revenue for businesses that sell online. Fortunately, there are many ways you can reduce shopping cart abandonment.

These 5 Tips Can Decrease Shopping Cart Abandonment

  1. Avoid Unexpected Price Increases
    No one appreciates a price increase, especially after a purchase decision is made using a lower price. Whenever price depends on buyer choices, such as choosing a size or other options, try showing a price range and then display a specific price after necessary options have been selected.
  2. Eliminate or Reduce Shipping Costs
    Everyone realizes there is a cost to have their online purchases delivered, but online shoppers become disappointed when shipping costs become a large portion of the total checkout price. Consider offering one standard option for free delivery and several discounted “premium” options that subtract your cost for standard shipping—even if you need to increase prices to compensate.
  3. Match Direct Competitor’s Pricing
    The Internet is a big place to shop, and while shoppers can technically shop anywhere they want, this doesn’t mean every online seller worldwide is your direct competitor. Identify those few competitors that are most likely to be found by price shoppers and make sure your pricing is similar. Even if your product is genuinely unique, online shoppers might be able to find lower-cost alternatives at other online stores they could substitute for your items.
  4. Improve Online Shopping Experiences
    If you are like most online businesses, you invest a lot of time, effort, and money maintaining your online store. It is important to control costs related to credit card processing, online shopping carts, and website management, but every field, button, and step during the checkout process creates an opportunity for shoppers to leave. A 1-step checkout is ideal.
  5. Provide Detailed Shipping Information
    Your business understands the details and limitations related to shipping, but few online shoppers will be as well informed. Assume nothing and provide lots of shipping information to online shoppers. Anticipate shipping related questions and proactively share information such as estimated delivery dates and how to track the status of package deliveries. Deliver an FAQ after checkout with every order.

While there are some things beyond your ability to directly control—such as website visitors that never intended to buy, buyers who find a lower online price elsewhere, and shoppers who decide now is not the right time to buy—implementing these five tips can lead to more online shoppers completing their orders and significantly grow revenue for your business.