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2021 Beginner’s Guide to eCommerce Shipping: Best Practices and Solutions

Nicasio Co III
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February 11, 2021

Shipping is the make or break point for a buyer. No matter how carefully you have planned your listing, when your shipping option doesn’t meet your customer’s expectations, it will affect your business. You can even lose money with poor eCommerce shipping service. 

Based on a survey conducted in November 2017,  73 percent of respondents stated that free delivery greatly impacts their decision to purchase an item online. So, if you want to improve your eCommerce shipping services, you need to carefully plan your shipping strategy. It’s a good thing that we created a guide on everything you need to know about shipping. If you want to know which shipping service is the cheapest and the best shipping practices, read below. 

What is eCommerce shipping?

eCommerce shipping is a shipping service employed by online businesses to ship their products to their customers. As online shopping becomes increasingly popular, the need for eCommerce shipping services has grown. It’s also one of the most important aspects of online business because a poor shipping service can affect their relationship with their customers.

Imagine carefully packing your products, but due to the mishandling of the package, it arrives in a haphazard state on your customer’s doorsteps. Of course, your customer will blame you and give you a bad rating. To avoid this scenario, you need to carefully pick a shipping service. 

Why is it important?

Picking the best shipping solution is essential because it affects your customer’s perception of you. As a business owner, you understand that your customer’s overall experience can make or break your relationship with them. Despite being able to smoothly control most aspects of your business, the shipping portion is an aspect you entrust to a shipping partner. You are entrusting the package to the shipping company, hoping they will carefully handle it. If the package arrives late, in a bad state, or not at all, you may not have any chance to redeem yourself. It’s not the shipping company your customers contact, but you. 

So, it’s evident that you need to do business with someone reliable. Aside from looking for a trustworthy shipping company, you need it to be fast and affordable. An expensive shipping rate can cause your customers to lose interest. Worst is if they purchase the same item from another store. To help you look for the best shipping companies, we tackled in the latter part of the article some companies you can choose from. 

Learning the basic terms on eCommerce shipping

To fully understand the shipping process, you need to understand some basic terms and procedures. This quick explanation will help straighten things out. 

Shipping Carriers and Shipping Methods

People often interchange shipping carriers and shipping methods. Shipping carriers are the ones responsible for transporting the packages. Some examples are UPS and FedEx. Shipping methods are the specific setting you create in shipping with any shipping carrier. 

Real-Time Shipping Rates

Real-time shipping refers to an online store’s capability to instantly process the shipping cost for a customer’s order. Having an international shipping rate calculator helps you and your customer determine the cost of shipping. Instead of being surprised by the total cost, your customer can decide whether they will leave or continue purchasing the product. 

Dropshipping

Dropshipping is a business model where sellers list a product, but it’s the supplier who ships the product to the customer. Instead of stocking up on inventory, the sellers simply contact the manufacturer or distributor whenever a customer orders a product. 

eCommerce Fulfillment

When you hear the word “fulfillment,” it refers to the entire process of packing and shipping the products to the customer. 

Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)

Amazon FBA is a service provided by Amazon to help ease the process of fulfillment of orders for the sellers. Amazon stores the items in their fulfillment center, and when there is an order, they handle the picking, packing, and shipping. They also offer customer service after the fulfillment of orders. 

Steps to Planning your eCommerce Shipping

Below are the steps you need to do to plan and fulfill your orders. 

Step 1: Create your shipping objectives

Some of the potential shipping objectives you can list are the following:

  • Increase conversions 

The conversion rate is calculated by dividing the number of visitors on your sites by the number of shoppers who take the desired action. Increasing conversions equals more sales on your part. To do so, you need to look at several factors, such as the product you are selling, keyword, and marketing techniques. One way to boost your conversion rate is to offer free shipping. 

  • Minimizing shipping costs 

Customers love it when you minimize their shipping costs. They’ll love it even more if you offer them free shipping! To decrease the cost of shipping products, you need to look at the different variables that affect the cost. Some of the actions you can do to minimize it are to reduce the packaging materials used to make it lighter and find a shipping carrier with whom you can negotiate the rates.

  • Expand your business to new markets and target audiences 

Expanding your business helps in increasing your sales because you will be targeting a new market that is different from your current one. Offering same-day local delivery can help you dominate the local market while fast international shipping lets you market your products abroad. 

Step 2: Set your Shipping Methods 

After listing your goals, it’s time to set your shipping policy. Your shipping policy should include the methods of shipping the products and determining the price for each package. Below is the list of shipping methods and pricing you can offer:

  • Offer Free Shipping

Free shipping is one of the best ways to get your customers to purchase your product. They love knowing they don’t have to pay for the shipping cost. However, we all know that shipping isn’t free. To make it work, you can increase the product price to cover the cost of shipping, pay for the shipping cost out of your profit margin, and offer a discount code for free shipping. Another way is to offer free shipping on a minimum order amount. 

  • Offer international shipping

Expanding to international markets is a great scaling strategy. To execute this properly, you need to pick a good international carrier such as UPS, DHL, and FedEx. You must also secure the required documents before shipping the package. 

  • Offer local delivery

Aside from free delivery, you can also offer local delivery. When you set up local delivery, you can cut down on costs and get more local customers. This is also a good and reliable delivery option for businesses targeting local customers. 

  • Charge Real-Time Carrier Rates

Even though customers love free shipping, it is still helpful to display the real-time carrier rates at the checkout page. For one, customers get to know how much they need to pay. Second, it allows you to charge the exact cost of shipping without you overcharging or undercharging them. 

  • Charge a Flat Rate

Offering flat rate shipping rate is advisable if your product line consists of products with similar weights and sizes. It tends to become complicated if you have a product line of different sizes and weights. This can lead to undercharging or overcharging your customers for shipping. 

Step 3: Calculate your shipping costs.

Shipping costs depend on a number of factors. Some of these factors are the following: 

  • Package size
  • Package weight
  • Origin address
  • Destination address

Aside from these factors are the insurance and customs fees. You can use each carriers’ shipping calculator to know the total shipping cost. By knowing the shipping cost, you can be able to properly price your goods. 

Step 4: Prepare your shipping supplies.

You can’t ship anything without the means to do it, so you need to prepare the shipping materials before shipping your products. Below are the tools you need:

  • Shipping Scales

Shipping costs are calculated around the weight and dimensions of the package, so you need a weighing scale to know how heavy the package is. You don’t want to guess the weight of the package, which can result in an inaccurate measurement. You can opt for a smaller scale if you ship small products but a bigger one for heavier items. 

  • Measuring Tape

Aside from the weight of the package, you also need to measure the dimensions. Using a measuring tape can give you an accurate measurement of the item you plan to ship. It will also avoid overcharging or undercharging your customers. 

  • Printer

You also need a printer for your shipping labels. 

Step 5: Properly package your products.

As the eCommerce industry develops, so do the expectations of customers. For them, the packaging is a way of presenting the brand. Hence, as a seller, you need to go above and beyond to impress your customers. The best way to do this is to quicken the shipping time and create good packaging. Think about your packaging as more than the protection of your product during shipment but as an extension of your brand. 

You can try adding your label or designing your packaging. If you are geared towards eco-friendly means, you can use packages that aren’t harmful to the environment. Consider hiring another company to customize your packages. You may also want to try other packaging options aside from boxes. For example, poly mailers can be a great way to mail products that don’t need a lot of structure or cushioning, like clothing.

For smaller items, you can use mailing envelopes because they occupy less space, easy to pack, and less expensive than shipping containers. For bigger products, you can use boxes. They’re lightweight, durable, and come in all shapes and sizes. However, the downside is that they come only in two colors (brown or white), and if you want to add colors and graphics to them, it’s going to cost you a fortune. 

Step 6: Choosing the best shipping solutions.

Choosing the best shipping solution isn’t always easy. When choosing your shipping carrier, you can choose two or more depending on the type of package you are shipping. To help you make the right choice, here are some popular shipping solutions.

  • USPS 

If you are living in the United States, USPS is a very convenient and effective choice. They offer free pickup of your items, packaging supplies, and online label printing. If you are just starting out, then this is the best choice for you.

  • FedEx

If you are shipping multiple packages a day, you can pick FedEx due to their fast delivery service and discounted shipping fee. 

  • UPS

UPS excels at delivering large packages and has the added benefit of shipping to over 200 countries. It also has a good record of shipping on time, and you can negotiate the price of the packages. 

Step 7: Purchase insurance coverage for your packages.

Shipping insurance helps in protecting your packages from theft and damage. You can purchase insurance with your shipping carrier as an add-on. This is best for items that are high-value. Keep in mind that some shipping services have insurance already been built into the price, so consider this when comparing various courier prices.

Step 8: Prepare the necessary shipping documents.

When you are shipping outside of your country, you need to prepare the necessary customs documentation. The documents tell the customs officer about the package, how much it costs, and whether it is prohibited or not. To know about the documents you needed to prepare, check with your country’s postal service. These forms should be completed honestly to prevent delays in your package. 

Final thoughts

Looking for the best and complete shipping solutions may be tedious on your part, but it’s an essential part of your business that you mustn’t ignore. If you need a reliable shipping service, Stallion Express is your answer. Here at Stallion Express, we offer you a fast and affordable shipping service for your domestic and international market. It’s also easy for you to keep track of your packages because you can simply integrate your store with our system. Contact us now to know more about our service. 

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Nicasio Co III
Written by Nicasio Co III

Nicasio is the co-founder of Stallion Express - the leading eCommerce shipping company in Canada. Through his unique experiences in tech and digital marketing, he is on a journey to disrupt the logistics industry.

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