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5 eCommerce Shipping Tips to Foster Positive Customer Relationships

Think about the last time you ordered something online. That giddy feeling, the anticipation…waiting for it to arrive at your doorstep.

For consumers, shipping is the final and often most memorable touchpoint in the customer journey. As such, businesses must do whatever they can to ensure it goes smoothly.  

If the item arrives late, is damaged, or doesn’t match the description, there is very little chance a customer will return to your online store anytime soon. You will also likely need to pay for returns or replacements out of your own pocket. 

So, in a world where 80% of consumers say that speed, convenience, and friendly service are the essential elements of a positive customer experience, taking the time to get your shipping right isn’t just about avoiding problems – it’s your time to shine. In this blog, we will dig into seven tips to help you build a seamless shipping experience that fosters trust, fuels word of mouth and turns customers into loyal fans.

Key Takeaways

  • Shipping is the final and most memorable touchpoint in the customer journey for online purchases, so it's crucial for businesses to ensure it goes smoothly.
  • Provide customers with clear, upfront information on shipping costs, options, and estimated delivery timeframes to minimize abandoned carts and set proper expectations.
  • Choose the appropriate shipping method (LCL vs FCL) based on the purchase to optimize costs and delivery times.
  • If issues arise with an order, take ownership of mistakes, apologize, and proactively communicate with the customer to turn a negative experience into a positive one.
  • Ensure your return policy is easy to understand and customer-friendly to build trust and encourage repeat business.

Tip 1: Upfront and Clear Takes the Fear Away

Most people can likely relate to the experience of filling their shopping cart to the brim, ready to treat themselves, only to discover that some hefty shipping fees are waiting for them at the checkout. Not only is this a jarring experience for the customer, but it can easily throw them off their budget and make them reconsider the entire purchase. 

Transparency is key with shipping. Nobody likes surprises, especially when they cost money. With this in mind, you need to display the shipping cost as early as possible in the buying process. If customers need to pay for deliveries below $20, let them know immediately. If you don't ship internationally, make these details easy to find.

In addition, you need to provide realistic estimated delivery time frames for each customer. The goal is to eliminate any nasty surprises that a customer may run into at the checkout. This will help minimize the abandoned cart rate and make customers feel comfortable completing their purchases.

Tip 2: LCL vs FCL: Pick the Path that Fits the Purchase

When it comes to shipping internationally, there are two main options that you need to consider. FCL (full-container load) and LCL (less-than-container load). Each of these methods has pros and cons. Let’s dive into when each makes sense:

  • FCL Shipping: This is when you have enough goods or products to fill up an entire container by yourself. Since you are the sole occupant of these containers, you have more say and control over the supply chain management. So, if your customers need their orders fast and your shipment is large enough to fill a whole container, FCL is likely the best way. As you might expect, the added level of control that FCL brings comes at an added price.
  • LCL Shipping: If your shipment is smaller, then LCL shipping lets you share container space with others. This is why it is an attractive option for smaller and medium-sized businesses, as it's a smart way to keep costs down. However, the one drawback is that it may result in longer journeys for your customer’s package (with less control on your end).

Tip 3: Offer Choices, Let Customers Control the Pace

Sometimes, customers need items delivered immediately. Others may be happy to wait for a couple of days or even a week to save some money. As an e-commerce store, you need to cater to each of these preferences by offering flexible shipping options. 

By giving customers the power to choose from shipping speeds such as standard, expedited, or even express next-day delivery, you put them firmly in the driver's seat by providing a more empowered shopping experience.

Tip 4: Packaging: Not Just Protection, But Personality

For many business owners, packaging is often left as an afterthought. While much time and effort goes into designing the product, only a little energy is put into the packaging design. This is a missed opportunity. Remember, a customer's first physical interaction with your brand after placing an order will be opening the box or the envelope. Make that moment count. 

Put some thought into the unboxing experience. A small insert, a thank you note, a discount code. Even a thoughtful arrangement of items inside the box can create a delightful and memorable experience.

Importantly, remember that your packaging is an extension of your brand. If sustainability matters to you and your customers, then you need to make sure that you're not just talking the talk but walking the walk. In this case, opting for sustainable and eco-friendly packaging shows that you share their values and increases the chance of building long-lasting customer relationships. 

Tip 5: Mistakes Happen – Be Ready to Make it Right

Sometimes, no matter how much you plan, there's always the chance that something will go wrong with shipping. Packages will be delayed, and items will arrive damaged—it’s just the nature of the beast. How you handle these situations will either make or break your customer's trust. 

First, you need to stand up and take ownership of your mistakes. If a customer's item arrives damaged, offer your apologies and then offer a resolution. In almost all cases, you have the opportunity to turn a bad experience into a positive one. By showing genuine empathy, you can transform a disappointed customer into a long-term, loyal brand advocate.

Moreover, if you know ahead of time that there will be a delay or a problem with the delivery, don't make your customer find out the hard way. Communicate with them proactively and inform them immediately. 

Finally, you must ensure your return policy is easy to understand and hassle-free. Clearly stating your terms and conditions on the website will make customers feel more confident purchasing, especially if it’s their first time. 

Final Word 

Mastering your shipping strategy means more than just getting your products delivered from point A to point B. In an ideal world, it creates happier customers, fuels positive reviews and word of mouth, and encourages those all important repeat purchases. A little effort into your shipping operations can significantly impact your long-term success and customer experience. 

Essential Industry Insights for Further Reading

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