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9 Ecommerce Shipping Best Practices For Businesses 

For an e-commerce business to thrive, it must have quality products, a well-crafted website, and smooth shipping processes.

Key Takeaways

  • Develop and adhere to a strategic shipping plan tailored to your business goals.
  • Consider leveraging third-party fulfillment services to streamline your shipping process.
  • Provide multiple shipping options to meet diverse customer preferences and needs.
  • Ensure transparency in shipping costs and delivery timelines to prevent cart abandonment.
  • Implement a tracking system for orders to enhance customer trust and satisfaction.
  • Facilitate easy returns to encourage repeat business and customer loyalty.
  • Prioritize careful packaging to prevent damage and enhance customer experience.
  • Regularly monitor and evaluate shipping metrics to identify areas for improvement.

For e-commerce businesses looking to enhance customer satisfaction and drive growth, mastering shipping best practices is pivotal; a recent survey by Metapack revealed that 61% of online shoppers were unlikely to shop with a retailer again after a poor delivery experience, underscoring the significance of seamless shipping operations in today's competitive digital landscape.

You need to sell something people want, need, and will pay for, and you also need a website experience that makes it easy for them to buy. After all that work, it would be a shame if they were disappointed with a clunky, slow, or expensive shipping process.

That's why all three are equally critical to successful e-commerce. If you've got the products and the website, check out these e-commerce shipping best practices to complete the trifecta.

Build and Follow a Shipping Strategy

There are many ways to get your products from here to there. Where is “here,” by the way? Where is “there?” How much should you charge? How long will delivery take?

It's all part of the shipping strategy you should create before sending a single order to a customer.

A shipping strategy helps you make informed decisions based on your goals when building your shipping process.

Create Goals for Your Shipping Strategy

Your shipping strategy should center around a specific goal. For example, you should increase conversions on your website. If this is the case, you'll want to make the process as simple as possible. You'll likely offer free shipping on all products to avoid cart abandonment. If you increase your customers' orders, offering free or next-day shipping would make more sense only after a certain monetary threshold has been met.

If your goal is expansion, you need an international shipping strategy with different carriers and shipping methods. Your top shipping goal is saving money. In this case, you won't offer free shipping. Instead, you'll find the cheapest option, but it might hurt your sales and customer experience.

Starting with a shipping strategy is an e-commerce best practice that will help you meet your goals.

Leverage Third-Party Fulfillment Services

If you're a small business owner trying to make it with a new e-commerce business, these shipping best practices may be overwhelming. To ensure your customers have a smooth delivery experience, outsource your shipping process to ecommerce fulfillment services.

This provider can store your inventory, fulfill orders in their warehouse, ship them using well-known carriers at a lower cost than you could get on your own, and track your metrics for you with powerful technology.

Offer Your Customers Options

Customers generally like to choose from a few options. It makes them feel in control and better about the option they ultimately select (as opposed to it being forced on them as the only option).

While some customers will desperately need next-day delivery for rush orders and be willing to pay for it, others may be willing to wait for their package if it saves them a few bucks. Let them choose for themselves.

Make Shipping Transparent

Customers will abandon their carts if they feel tricked during the buying process. No one wants to get to the last step of their order only to be hit with unexpectedly high shipping, handling, taxes, and duties fees. Often, these fees cost more than the product itself.

Be transparent from the start and ensure no surprises at checkout. Have them add their postal code early to see actual shipping costs.

Another important way shipping should be transparent is to give customers accurate delivery date estimates. Stating that orders will arrive in 1-14 days must be more specific. This helps customers choose a shipping option with delivery timelines that suit their requirements and keep them happy.

Create a Tracking Page for Orders

Another e-commerce shipping best practice to include in your strategy is a tracking page for orders. Customers should be able to guess where their package is in transit. Make it simple for them to add their tracking number and see where their package stands in the process.

Sending automated shipping updates to customers when their package has shipped will also ensure that your shipping process is transparent (and eliminates many customer service inquiries).

Make Returns Easy

Returns are an essential part of shipping. Refraining from accepting returns, insisting that customers pay to return, or making the process too complicated almost guarantees you won't get repeat customers.

Create a return portal to facilitate returns. Include a return label in every order or make printable pre-paid returns easy and accessible. State your return policy prominently on your website.

Ship with Care

Nothing upsets a customer more than receiving a damaged product during shipping. Even if you're trying to cut costs in your e-commerce business, shipping products in appropriately sized packages with the right protectors and secure wrapping is imperative.

Otherwise, you'll likely lose more money due to excessive returns – and lose customers while you're at it.

Monitor Shipping Metrics

Is your shipping process running smoothly? How do you know? Setting and tracking shipping metrics makes sense for business. You should know the accuracy and speed of order fulfillment. You should understand if delivery dates are frequently met or missed.

You should understand how much money you're losing to damaged and lost packages. Keep on top of your shipping process so you can adjust as needed to improve the experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a shipping strategy, and why is it essential for ecommerce businesses?
A shipping strategy outlines the goals, processes, and methods for delivering products to customers efficiently. It's crucial because it impacts customer satisfaction, conversion rates, and profitability.

How can offering multiple shipping options benefit an ecommerce business?
Various shipping choices, such as free, expedited, or cost-effective options, cater to different customer preferences and increase satisfaction, potentially boosting sales and loyalty.

What are the advantages of using third-party fulfillment services for ecommerce shipping?
Third-party fulfillment services can streamline the shipping process, leverage their expertise and negotiated carrier rates, and provide access to advanced technology and analytics, ultimately improving efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

Why is transparency important in ecommerce shipping, and how can it be achieved?
Transparency in shipping, such as displaying accurate delivery estimates and upfront costs, builds customer trust and prevents cart abandonment. This can be achieved through clear communication, order tracking, and the provision of shipping details early in the checkout process.

What are some best practices for creating a user-friendly return process in ecommerce?
Offering a dedicated returns portal, including pre-paid return labels, and clearly stating the return policy can make the process convenient for customers and encourage repeat business and loyalty.

How can proper packaging and shipping methods help prevent damages and costly returns?
Using appropriate packaging materials, secure wrapping, and correctly sized boxes can minimize product damage during transit, reduce the need for returns and associated costs, and maintain customer satisfaction.

What shipping metrics should ecommerce businesses monitor, and why are they important?
Tracking metrics like fulfillment accuracy, delivery speed, and loss/damage rates helps identify areas for improvement and optimize the shipping process. Monitoring these metrics is crucial for maintaining efficiency and a positive customer experience.

How can offering free shipping incentivize customers and impact conversion rates?
Free shipping can be a powerful incentive for customers, reducing cart abandonment and increasing conversion rates. Customers perceive it as a value-added benefit and are more likely to complete their purchases.

What role does order tracking play in providing a transparent shipping experience for customers?
Order tracking allows customers to monitor the progress of their shipments, providing transparency and peace of mind throughout the delivery process. It can also reduce customer service inquiries and build trust in the ecommerce business.

Why is it essential to have a clear and easily accessible returns policy for ecommerce customers?
A clear and accessible returns policy sets customer expectations, builds trust, and reduces frustration. It demonstrates that the ecommerce business prioritizes customer satisfaction and is willing to stand behind its products and services.

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