As we reach the last of our Halloween candy, all of us in the e-commerce space have focused our attention on the two sweetest days of the year; Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But in truth, online sellers have to prepare for the entire weekend.
Last year, the National Retail Federation found that nearly 180 million Americans shopped during the 5 days from Thanksgiving day all the way to Cyber Monday. This influx of shoppers can be an incredible opportunity for online businesses to finish the year strong, or it can be a logistical nightmare.
Thankfully, by having a multi-carrier shipping software like Shippo, you can ensure a smoother shipping process for both your staff and customers. However, like any tool, there can be a little learning curve before you use it to the best of your ability.
To help make sure you get the most out of this year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday rush, we’ll answer some of the most common questions about using Shippo.
Getting Started With Shippo
Before you sign up to Shippo, you may have noticed that there are three plans to choose from; The Starter, Professional, and Premier plans. But which one is right for you?
Choosing the Plan That’s Right for You
The Starter account will make the most sense for e-commerce businesses just in their initial stages or low-volume shippers. There are no subscription fees, no per-label fees with Shippo’s default carriers, and it comes with email and live chat support.
For e-commerce businesses that have been in the game for a little longer, can identify an average number of shipments per month, and need the use of advanced functions such as automation and branded tracking pages, the Professional plan might be the best option. You can try it for free for 30 days and Pro plans start as little as $10 a month.
The Premier plan would be best for e-commerce merchants at the more enterprise level. It comes with everything in the Pro plan, plus technical implementation assistance, dedicated customer support, and the ability to have 15 user accounts. Pricing is custom to your business, so you’ll need to contact sales.
Creating a Shippo Account
You can switch plans at any time so the easiest way to get started is to simply create an account. You’ll first have to input your name and business email address and create a password. After that, you’ll have to input some information about your company such as the name, the platform you sell on, and your current monthly shipping volume. Once that is done, you’ll input your shipping preferences such as your preferred carrier or delivery service. Finally, you’ll add your orders to Shippo either by connecting your online store, importing a CSV file of orders, or manually entering order information.
Connecting your e-commerce store
According to an internal survey, 43% of merchants said connecting their online store took less than 5 minutes. You can even connect more than one sales channel including:
You can integrate your e-commerce store from within the Shippo Web app. You’ll have to navigate to the settings tab, click stores, choose your selling platform, enter your account credentials, and click connect. Some stores like Magento and Spree Commerce take a few additional steps but still follow an easy process.
Paying For Shippo
Once you’re ready to purchase your first label, you’ll notice a note referencing a $25 verification charge. While it may seem alarming, know that this is simply a $25 hold on your credit card. After seven days you’ll be charged for your first label, and if that transaction goes through, the $25 will be lifted from your credit card account.
Regarding the method by which you pay, you can choose between a credit card, debit card, or ACH direct billing. If you want to connect your bank through ACH, they will have to be a U.S. bank and you’ll need to contact Support. You can save multiple payment methods. You’ll need to select the default payment method to ensure you’re getting charged from the right place.
Of course, there might be mistakes for those new to printing shipping labels from Shippo. Thankfully there is a way to refund a label if that happens to be the case. You can request a refund straight from the Web App. However, keep in mind that it will normally take 14 days after the request has been processed for the refund to reach your account.
Check out our billing FAQ for more important information on how paying for Shippo works.
Choosing The Best Packaging For BFCM Orders
Once you’re all set up on Shippo, you’ll want to start boxing up your orders and prepare them to get shipped. Getting this side of your fulfillment operations will be critical during the rush of orders from BFCM. But, there are a few best practices you’ll want to keep in mind no matter what item you’re shipping and at any time of the year.
- The package should only be slightly larger than the product – By limiting the size of your package, you limit the shipping cost assessed by carriers.
- Use the right infill to protect your product – depending on what you’re sending, the right infill could be air pillows, packing peanuts, or a custom mold. You’ll want to check out the pros and cons of each infill before deciding.
- Know when to use flat rate boxes – There are scenarios in which flat rate boxes are cheaper than custom boxes. Leveraging this packaging technique can be useful if your goal is to limit shipping costs. However, if your goal is to increase brand awareness and drive brand loyalty, custom boxes might be the right choice.
- Measure your Boxes Correctly: To avoid surcharges, you’ll want to ensure that your package falls within the standards of the carrier you’re using. If you go over that limit or in accurately put in those measurements when printing a shipping label, you open yourself to paying more.
There might be instances where shipping with a poly mailer makes more sense than a packaging with a box. This is especially true when you’re shipping small items. The options you’ll have when using this method include:
- Layflat Polymailers
- Clear View Poly Mailers
- Bubble-lined Poly Mailers
- Expansion Poly Mailers
- Returnable Poly Mailers
- Recycled Poly Mailers
There are pros and cons of each poly mailer method and some products might be better suited for a certain poly mailer than others. In any case, they are a great cost-effective option for smaller items that don’t need the extra cushioning or protection of a box.
Use Discounted Shipping Rates As a Competitive Advantage
As many e-commerce businesses know, the 2022 edition of Black Friday and Cyber Monday is unique because it comes during high inflation and economic uncertainty. Many customers are looking for the best deals possible, so you’ll need to keep shipping costs as low as possible.
Thankfully Shippo gives you access to the best-discounted shipping rates in the industry. After signing up, you’ll immediately get access to discounted rates from major national carriers like USPS and UPS. No extra steps are needed there.
But, if you have pre-negotiated discounts with certain carriers, you can add those accounts into Shippo to compare those rates alongside other carriers. This way, you’re using the best possible carrier every time.
One of the best ways to check rates is after an order is placed. You can look at your customer’s selected shipping rate alongside the shipping rates available for purchase in Shippo and then select the best option for you and your customer.
Another advantage of using Shippo to ship your Black Friday and Cyber Monday orders is that you can avoid surcharges and peak season rates in many instances. For example, when shipping with UPS, peak season rates, residential surcharges, and fuel surcharges are all waived. When shipping with USPS, you’ll be able to avoid peak season rates in many instances and never have to worry about residential surcharges either.
There are also additional ways to avoid shipping surcharges if you follow the right steps.
Handling Black Friday and Cyber Monday Returns
While Black Friday and Cyber Monday mean a boom in sales, there will also be an increase in returns in the following month. While it may seem counterintuitive, you’ll want to make this process as easy as possible for your customers.
This gives them the confidence needed to purchase in the first place and also makes it easier for your business to process returns and refunds. One of the best ways you can do this is by generating return labels. With Shippo, you can do so at the same time that you create a shipping label. This allows you to include a return label inside the package when you first ship it.
The best part about this is that you won’t be charged for a return label until it is scanned by the carrier making the return. Just be sure that your holiday returns policy allows for BFCM orders to be returned after Christmas so that customers can hang on to those return labels if they bought your item as a gift and it needs to be returned.
While Black Friday and Cyber Monday are just around the corner, it’s not too late to sign up to Shippo for free and get your store integrated before the holidays.