In 2018, we shared shipping tips, e-commerce tools, and best practices to help you master shipping for your online business. That’s because it’s a great time to own an e-commerce company—with 15 to 25 percent annual growth expected worldwide through 2021—but competition continues to stiffen as Amazon narrows in on almost half of the e-commerce market.
We’re here to help you navigate the complexities of shipping and master your processes to provide the best experience for your customers. In fact, savvy retailers are using shipping to get an edge over other brands, since delivery options are directly impacting consumer purchasing decisions. Is your item offered with fast, free shipping? If not, your customer has likely already left your site for a competitor.
Here are some of the best shipping and e-commerce tips we shared on the blog this year that will still be useful for online businesses in the years to come.
E-commerce Tip #1: Make Sure Your Technology Stack Integrates With Each Other
Let’s say you’re using Shopify to power your e-commerce store, MailChimp for your email marketing, and Shippo for your shipping software. You want to make sure that all of the technology you choose syncs with each other, so that you’re not spending exorbitant amounts of time manually uploading and updating information.
E-commerce Tip #2: Prevent Online Returns with Product Videos
80 percent of consumers say a video showing how a product or service works is important. And, four times as many consumers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it. In a video, you can see a product from many different angles, helping customers get a better sense of the item so they’re less likely to return it.
E-commerce Tip #3: Spend Less than 7 Percent on Shipping Per-order Value
We ranked a sample of 500 of our customers by the amount they spent on shipping as a percentage of sales and found that businesses ranking in the top fifth overall are spending less than 7 percent on shipping per order value. Overall, it’s a good idea to try to keep your shipping costs low in relation to how much your customers are paying for the product to ensure you come out profitable.
E-commerce Tip #4: Offer Free Shipping with a Purchase Value Threshold
A free shipping threshold means that if a customer spends a certain amount at your store, they’ll qualify for free shipping. A good rule of thumb is to choose a threshold slightly above the average purchase value. For example, if customers typically buy a $20 T-shirt from you, price your free shipping threshold at $25 or $30 to encourage more profits.
This helps you increase the size of your orders, while saving on shipping, since you’ll be able to package multiple items in one box or envelope. The proof is in the purchases: 48 percent of people will add items to a cart to qualify for free shipping.
Read More: 3 Unique Ways to Offer Free Shipping
E-commerce Tip #5: Add Same-day Shipping to Your Arsenal
While 15 percent of shoppers want same or next-day delivery, according to our annual State of Shipping survey, just one percent of online retailers we surveyed are offering it. Differentiate from your competitors by adding same-day shipping to your mix and meet customer expectations.
E-commerce Tip #6: Use Shipping and Order Confirmation Emails to Engage with Customers
Did you know that shipping confirmation emails are opened 1.5 times on average? It’s the easiest way to engage with customers right after purchase. When you do send these emails, include a link to the order tracking page, since emails with links have two times the click rate than confirmation emails without them. And consider including your brand name in the subject line, since that has a 7 percent increase in unique open rates compared to emails without it.
E-commerce Tip #7: Save Time by Scheduling Carrier Pickups
One of the biggest small business shipping tips we hear all the time is to schedule a pick-up with your carrier. Stop piling your packages into your car and waiting in line at the Post Office. Instead, you can schedule a pickup with your carrier, so that your local mail person or carrier representative comes to your house, office, or warehouse to gather your packages and input them into the mailstream.
E-commerce Tip #8: Use Your Data to Negotiate Carrier Rates
As you’re planning to negotiate carrier rates, look for trends in your data to prove your value to the carriers. Do you ship exclusively with one service level or do most of your packages travel along the same route? Are you a subscription seller with all of your packages delivered on one day? Find ways to show that you’re valuable to FedEx or UPS, and if possible, ways you can work with the carrier to optimize your shipping needs with their routes.
Above all else, you need to have a compelling story to tell, and that’s where your data comes in. It’s easy to see your past shipments using Shippo. Visit our new Shipping Analytics tab in to see your shipment history and access past data.
E-commerce Tip #9: Leverage a Local Warehouse to Save Money on Return Shipping
When purchasing long-distance return shipping, rather than shipping the product all the way back to your origin address, you can ship the product to a local warehouse for storage. Then, once you have a handful of returns, you can ship them in bulk back to the origin address at a more cost-effective rate.
Most companies like to see the product before they issue a refund, so talk to local warehouses to see if that’s something they can support. Once the warehouse employee has opened the box, he or she can pack the items into larger crates or boxes for bulk shipping.
E-commerce Tip #10: Look for Affordable Return Shipping Options
According to ReturnMagic, 80 percent of shoppers expect free returns. While free returns may not be in the cards for everyone, slower shipping services can at least help keep your costs low. You can continue to offer expedited shipping services on the outbound delivery, since that’s what consumers have come to expect. But, don’t pay top dollar for speedy return shipping unless the item is perishable or urgent.
With these tips, you’re well on your way to become an e-commerce shipping expert. Of course, every online business has its own unique set of needs, so you’ll want to consider your own demands as you think about implementing these tips. We look forward to sharing even more shipping and e-commerce tips in 2019!