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A Comprehensive Guide to Ecommerce Shipping Options and Fulfillment

Pramod Bhat
  •  
  •  
December 10, 2020

The eCommerce industry is one of the most popular and continuously growing industries in the world. More and more customers are buying online while businesses are making use of the platform to sell their products. The rise of the eCommerce industry has put extra emphasis on the shipping of packages. Hence, businesses are offering them good eCommerce shipping options. 

When it comes to shipping orders, customers would love it if it’s free and fast. Perhaps in a perfect world, customers will pay for the shipping fee, but the truth is that they prefer not to pay for shipping. With Amazon offering free shipping and same-day delivery to its Prime customers, sellers are often torn between offering discounted shipping rates or not. Hence, shipping has become an essential part of online businesses. 

Shipping costs for eCommerce is often the make or break for a customer when purchasing a product. If they deem a purchase to be too costly, they’ll switch to another store which shipping service is cheapest. To minimize these scenarios, you have to offer them good shipping options. 

By doing it right, you can boost sales and value from customers. To help you grow your small business, we’ll be presenting a comprehensive guide on eCommerce shipping. We’ll be tackling the different shipping options you can try and application extensions to convert your customers into purchasers. Plus, some tips on how to apply a good shipping process.

Read on to get some insights!

Getting Started with eCommerce Shipping

eCommerce shipping is a shipping service that ships the products of small and large businesses to their customers to make shipping more manageable. eCommerce shipping has come to mean differently, such as it became useful in providing the best online experience for the customers. It became an essential point on whether a small business shall succeed or not. 

Substantially, eCommerce shipping has become more competitive as businesses like Amazon make shopping faster and cheaper. At first, shipping companies such as FedEx and UPS were helpful when you’re just starting. Eventually, you’ll need to choose shipping services that will help you deliver your goods faster. Moreover, you have to provide different shipping options to your customers. 

Here at Stallion Express, we offer fast and efficient delivery services for your domestic and international needs. Plus, we offer them at an affordable price

Importance of eCommerce Shipping

Ecommerce shipping is important to build and cement your relationship with your customers. As a business owner, you need to understand that your customer’s satisfaction is a driving factor that can make or break your relationship with them. You can give them the best deals, discounted prices, and excellent customer service, but it is through shipping that customers can touch their orders. 

We all know that you can control most aspects of your business, but once your item is handed over to the shipping company, it is out of your hands. If your item is delivered in bad shape then it affects your relationship with your customer. It might even come to a point where they won’t ever buy in your store again. 

With this, shipping does affect your business. Aside from this, your shipping cost also affects your relationship since expensive shipping costs can lessen customers’ interest. Based on a study, 41% of shoppers decide to leave their cart when they see that the cost of delivery is higher than the expected price. 

If you have small business shipping in Canada, you need to pick a reliable shipping service that can offer border shipping services at an affordable price. 

Ecommerce Tips and Tricks

Tip #1: Clarity is Gold!

When it comes to shipping, your first rule is to be clear with your shipping policy, return policy, and fulfillment criteria. This will help you have a smooth shipping process because all the information that customers need shall be penned down in an easy-to-understand manner. You can post your policies and process on your website for them to find easily. 

An example should be including the fees for shipping a package and guaranteed days for them to return the item in your shipping policy. Be as clear and concise as possible, so customers won’t have to ask for clarification. It will also avoid miscommunication on both ends. 

Tip #2: Hire the Right People

Hiring the services of the right people to handle your shipping is essential to the success of your eCommerce business. For example, you need people who will handle the marketing and fulfillment of customer orders. A good marketing team shall handle the strategies in informing your customers about the methods, promotions, and best deals. They help spread the news about your product to the right audience and answer customer inquiries. 

As for the fulfillment of parcels, your team shall be the one to handle the packaging of the items. They are also responsible for sending it to the shipping company. Aside from hiring the right people, hiring the right shipping services you can trust with handling your packages shall help you maintain a good relationship. They ensure that the packages arrive in the receiver’s arms without any damage. 

Tip #3: Be Aware of the Rules

We all want to achieve a smooth and easy shipping process when it comes to delivering our packages. To do so, you need to know the prohibited and restricted items in a specific country. Better yet, check if your product is acceptable in the countries you are targeting to avoid further problems when selling the product. 

Besides knowing the right items to ship, you also need to process the right documents in customs and properly weigh your products. Weighing your products shall help in determining the right shipping cost that you will charge for your products. Make it a point to continuously update the weight of your products and shipping costs. Better yet, integrate the shipping carrier to your website. 

Tip #4: Best Shipping Deals

Offering the best shipping deals is what drives customers to click the “Add to Cart” button. They love it when you offer them free shipping, overnight shipping, and same-day delivery! It may seem a challenge, but if you have reliable shipping service, then you don’t have to worry. These couriers will provide you with reliable customer service, fast shipping, and discounted shipping prices. All you have to do is to contact a shipping agent and ask for their best offers. 

Tip #5: Frequently Update your Customers

Customers need to be kept in the loop when it comes to their packages. You can send them their tracking details and the shipping courier's website, so they may also personally track their packages. They’ll appreciate it even more if you ask them for their feedback and offer them gift certificates for their next purchase. These steps improve your relationship with your customers, which can turn into loyalty in the long run. 

Establishing your Shipping Process

Now that we have gone over the tips and tricks, we’ll tackle the steps to plan your shipping process. 

Step 1: Determine Your Shipping Policy

We’ve mentioned before that one of the tips in eCommerce shipping is to be clear and concise with sharing information. One of these is the shipping policy. Your shipping policy is a document that details information about shipping, such as method, and delivery method.

When it comes to your shipping policy, clearly define and publish it on your website where customers can easily see it. This enables them to look into your policy first before making a purchase. Oftentimes, the best policy is the one that fits both your company and customers’ needs. To create a good policy, these questions can help you out:

  • What eCommerce shipping options will you be offering? 
  • How long will your customers receive their package? Will you be offering same-day, next-day, or overnight delivery? What kind of products will you be shipping? If you are selling perishable goods, you need to inform customers that they will receive it earlier than expected. 
  • What shipping carrier do you work with? Do some customers ask if can you ship alcohol via US postal service? Also, do you ship internationally too? Does your shipping carrier offer Canada to US shipping services?

Step 2: Determine your Fulfillment Model

There are several methods in fulfilling your shipping orders. Pick among the four that suit you and your business well. 

  1. In-house fulfillment

In-house fulfillment is when you’re the one who handles the fulfillment of your orders. You handle the inventory storage, packaging, and shipping of products. Self-fulfillment differs for small and large businesses. Usually, if you’re a small business, then you’ll be the one to handle everything on your own while large businesses have their teams with designated tasks. 

  1. Dropshipping

Dropshipping is when the sellers serve as the middleman between the supplier/manufacturer and the customer. The supplier shall be the one who handles the production, packaging, and shipping of the item. The process is the seller shall be the one to market the product and contact the customer. Once the customer has placed an order, the seller shall send it to the supplier, and the supplier shall prepare the order for it to be shipped to the customer. 

The advantage with dropshipping is you, the seller, don’t have any physical inventory. You don’t have to worry if your stock hasn’t been sold yet because all the items are in the supplier’s warehouse. You’ll just have to put a mark-up on the price for you to earn. 

Most sellers start with this method since they don’t need capital for purchasing their inventory. All they need to do is to market the products and handle customer service. Just take note that the delivery time may be longer when your manufacturer is located overseas. 

3. Amazon FBA

Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) from the name itself means Amazon shall be the one to handle the shipping of the products. The seller simply sends the products to Amazon’s warehouse, and Amazon shall be the one to pack, ship, and offer customer service to the customer. Since Amazon will be fulfilling your orders, you’ll pay them a fulfillment and storage fee. 

There are a lot of advantages if we use fulfillment by Amazon. One of them is you get to have access to Amazon’s prime members who make up most of the sales on Amazon. You’re also qualified for Amazon’s next day or two-day shipping deals. Imagine the number of customers who will buy in your store due to these amazing deals! 

4. Outsourcing fulfillment

You’ll be hiring the services of a professional fulfillment company to ship your packages on your behalf. Most eCommerce businesses work with these fulfillment companies since they don’t have to worry about manpower, key processes, equipment, and technology. The fulfillment company shall be the one to handle everything. 

Step 3: Pick your eCommerce Packages and Materials.

When it comes to choosing the packaging of your products, you need to know which materials and size you will be using because, at the end of the day, you want your package to arrive in a safe condition. You can start choosing padded envelopes, bubble wraps, and poly mailers since these are often more cost-effective than boxes. 

If you wish to make it easier on your part, you can choose to use the carrier’s packaging. USPS, FedEx, and UPS have their packaging that is easy to use and free.

If you wish to customize your packaging, you can also do so. It has been recorded that 40% of online shoppers tend to buy from a store that offers branded packaging. Plus, customized packaging affects their perception of the brand because they believe the packaging speaks for the brand. Hence, if you wish to customize your products, you can use these three tips. 

  • Use Eco-Friendly Packaging 

Did you know that ⅓ of the total waste is due to packaging? As a business owner, your primary goal isn’t just to make money but also to take care of the planet using eco-friendly materials. With this, it is advisable to use eco-friendly packaging. You’re not only safely delivering your products, but you’re also helping the planet Earth. 

  • Keep the design as simple as possible.

When it comes to your packaging design, you want it to reflect your brand and your product. You don’t want to overboard because the weight and size of the product are factors for the shipping cost. By keeping it simple, your customers can save money. 

  • Choose your Packaging Wisely

There are endless ideas when it comes to packaging your product. However, it should depend on the size, shape, and material of the product. Use strong packaging that will protect fragile items while using a bigger one for spacious ones. Be honest with your customers regarding the shipping cost.  

Step 4: Purchasing Insurance

We all know that once you handed over your product to the shipping company, several events could happen that are out of our control. By purchasing shipping insurance on your packages, you’re protecting yourself and your buyer from financial problems due to theft, damages, and missing products. Because, more likely than not, you’ll have to send a replacement or pay for the lost or damaged product.

This is best for high-value products, too. It’s a good thing that FedEx and UPS packages cover insurance for items of up to a declared value of $100 or less. The U.S. Postal Service also provides an insurance of up to $100 on services like Priority Mail Express and Priority Mail Express International. However, if your package's declared value is more than $100, you need to purchase additional insurance. 

Step 5: eCommerce Costs

The shipping cost is a driving force when it comes to making or breaking your relationship with your customers. Most of the time, they prefer that you offer them free shipping or discounted shipping. As much as you want to offer the best for your customers, many factors come in determining the shipping cost.

  • Package Size

The bigger is the size of your package, the more costly it will be. However, there are times when a small package can cost more than a larger one. 

  • Weight of the Package

We mentioned above that a small package could cost more than a larger package. This is due to the weight of the product. The heavier it is, the more costly it will be on the part of the customer.

  • Distance from the origin to the destination

The distance between the point of origin to the destination is calculated before shipping the package. To help you compute the shipping cost, each carrier has a shipping rate calculator that you can use. 

What is your eCommerce Shipping Option?

Free Shipping

Customers love it when you offer them free shipping! It’s a great marketing tool to drive traffic and sales to your business. However, free shipping can be a loss on your part. The key here is to be creative in pricing your items. 

The best way you can do it is to price your products higher to compensate for the delivery free. You may offer two products for free delivery. It’s up to you on what deals you will be offering to your customers. 

Flat Rate Shipping

Flat Rate Shipping is another shipping strategy that works well with online businesses. You call it flat rate shipping since the shipping fee is fixed, no matter how much your orders cost you. For example, the website stated a shipping fee of $6 on all orders. May your order be worth $30 or $100, your shipping cost will be $6. 

Based on studies, flat rate shipping is the second-most preferred shipping option by customers because it is clear, simple, and cost-effective. You can apply the flat rate shipping fee on all orders or choose which orders it will apply. The flip side to this is you will cover the shipping fee, thereby gaining an expense on your part. 

Some orders may cover the shipping costs while others do not. If a customer hoards products for a flat rate shipping fee of $15, you may have to cover the additional cost due to the weight and number of products. So, it's best if you plan first before you apply this shipping option. 

Real-time Shipping

We can think of real-time shipping as an exact shipping rate. The shipping cost will be displayed during checkout. It will be based on the customer’s destination and package. The advantage with this shipping option is it allows sellers to charge the precise amount of delivery fees to their customers.

You won’t have to worry about losing money or covering the cost because your customers will be charged with the exact amount of delivery fee. The disadvantage with this is customers won’t often like paying for the exact fees. It can also be confusing when there are many items purchased by the customer. To make the process seamless and easier, use a shipping rate calculator. 

What is your Fulfillment Process?

After planning your shipping policy and method, we’ll now pick your shipping carrier and fulfill your orders. 

Pick a Reliable Shipping Company

When it comes to handling eCommerce shipping packages, choosing a reliable shipping service is a must. You can pick among USPS, DHL, FedEx, and Stallion Express. With Stallion Express, you can ship your parcels at an affordable rate!

Prepare Customs Form

If you plan on shipping internationally, you need to prepare the different documents that may be asked by the customs. You can check your country’s postal office the documents you needed to furnish before shipping the parcel. 

Don’t Forget to Send Order Confirmation Emails.

Before fulfilling the order, you need to confirm the order to make sure you sent the right item. Double-check the item and securely pack it. 

Schedule a Carrier Pickup

Once you are done securing the documents and packing your item, you can schedule a pickup with your shipping carrier. Different shipping carriers have different schedules. You may need to contact their shipping agent first to schedule your pick-up. 

Follow-up on Customers

Your responsibility with your customer doesn’t stop upon handing the package to the shipping carrier. Following up on their satisfaction with their order shows you care about their experience and their thoughts. It’s also a way of asking feedback with your products. By doing so, you’re adding value to your customers and cementing your relationship with them. 

Conclusion

Shipping your parcels is an important aspect of your business that you shouldn’t simply ignore. Many factors may come into play when your items are being shipped, so knowing how to handle these scenarios is a must. Moreover, picking a shipping carrier that will reliably handle your orders can drive customer satisfaction. 

If you want to work with a shipping carrier that offers reliable and affordable shipping rates, then pick Stallion Express. To know more about our services, you may contact us at +1 877-863-7447 or email [email protected] 

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Pramod Bhat
Written by Pramod Bhat

Pramod is the CEO of Stallion Express - the leading eCommerce shipping provider in Canada. His vision, leadership, and innovative strategies have catapulted Stallion into one of the industry's most trusted brands. He is on a mission to help online sellers in Canada scale and succeed. He is also the reigning office ping pong champion.

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