Shipping can strongly impact a consumer’s purchasing decision. In fact, 61 percent of online shoppers will abandon their cart due to high extra costs like shipping. In addition to the surprise price tag of shipping, consumers are on the lookout for other aspects of order fulfillment before they click “purchase”. For example, they also want to know how long it will take to get their product, which carrier you’ll use to deliver it, and how hard it will be to send the product back if it’s not to their liking.
By providing clear, detailed delivery information on your website, you can get ahead of these shipping-related questions and help give consumers the peace of mind they need to place an order.
Here are five ways you can use shipping to win the hearts of customers and keep them coming back.
Include Delivery Information on Product Pages
Amazon has influenced online shopping expectations, prompting an evolution towards transparency and a customer-focused checkout experience.
According to our 2016 State of Shipping survey, two other pieces of information items are key: the expected arrival date and exact shipping cost. However, only 33 percent of merchants include the expected delivery date and only 64 percent show the item’s shipping cost right on the product page.
Amazon doesn’t let the customer wonder about anything when they are looking at the product page. They don’t say “Two-Day Shipping” and let the customer guess when it actually arrives. Instead, they provide the expected delivery date and cost. Having all the appropriate information available on the product page has allowed them to be successful with the one-click shopping experience.
Find Ways to Offer Free Shipping
Never let the cost of shipping be an obstacle for your customers. According to research by UPS, 81 percent of shoppers cite free shipping as the most important thing they care about when going through the checkout process.
Consider providing customers with a free shipping option even if the delivery time is longer. 93 percent of those surveyed would take actions to qualify for free shipping, 58 percent of whom add items to their cart specifically to qualify for free shipping.
By offering free shipping with a minimum purchase value, your customers will typically add at least one more item to the cart in order to qualify.
One way to determine your customers’ spending threshold is by calculating your current average order value and setting the free shipping minimum slightly above it. Be careful not to set your threshold too high. If your average order value is $20 and you set your free shipping minimum at $200, you’re not offering enough savings to offset the increased spend.
Diversify Your Mix of Shipping Carriers
It’s hard to be profitable when your company is offering free shipping. If you’re only relying on one carrier right now, such as UPS or FedEx, consider adding a few additional carriers today, like USPS or DHL. Working with multiple carriers can help you optimize costs and provide more delivery options for customers.
By being prepared with multiple carriers, your team can better control costs and delivery expectations.
Consider Shipping Insurance for High-value Items
If you’re incentivizing consumers with a free shipping threshold, chances are the value of each order will be higher.
For these high-value orders, consider purchasing shipping insurance. A single loss or damage of a high-value shipment can set you back significantly. Not only have you lost the original shipment, but typically you would have to send the customer a replacement and pay for the cost of shipping again.
Each domestic FedEx and UPS parcel is covered automatically up to a value of $100 against loss or damage. The U.S. Postal Service provides an automatic $100 of coverage on expedited services like Priority Mail Express and Priority Mail Express International. If the value of your package is less than $100 you may not need to purchase additional insurance.
For shipments valued over $100, you can purchase additional insurance provided by the carriers or from a third-party insurer, which can usually be found through your shipping label platform of choice.
Be Clear About Returns
For online companies, e-commerce returns are simply part of doing business, and you can still minimize costs and operational impact.
A good place to start is to outline what your customers can expect, whether it’s an exchange, store credit, or a full refund. Every e-commerce store has its own preference, so don’t feel pressured to conform. Many people will be shopping with you for the first time, so be as clear as possible.
When it comes to the actual return procedure, include the specifics for your customers. Set expectations by making it clear who needs to ship what and by what date. Who pays for shipping—you or your customers? Should your customers use your packaging or their own?
If you sell internationally, you should create a separate policy for international customers. While not as customer friendly, you might consider limiting which items can be returned and who pays for shipping.
Remember that there are many reasons for returning products, ranging from the unavoidable to the entirely avoidable (e.g. human error on the company’s side, bad descriptions, poor product quality). Use this opportunity to understand why customers return items to help you lower your return rate.
Meeting customer expectations is an ever evolving task. It’s impossible to have everything perfected, but as long as you’re always looking for ways to improve the experience, you can make sure your customers are happy.
These tips originally appeared on Inc.