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Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Basics of eCommerce Shipping

by Editor (editor), , August 19, 2016

Developing and managing shipping functionality are a challenge for each eCommerce store. Finding the right balance between shipping costs and customer’s experience requires a lot time, trial and ef

When it comes to running an online store, one can control practically any aspect from adding a new product to order processing. However, there is one thing that is (almost) out of control. It is eCommerce shipping.

The point is that, you, as an online merchant, provide only the initial part of this service, all the rest depends mostly on your shipping provider. If you bet on the wrong shipping company, that can cause delays and poor order management, thus spoiling customers’ experience in many other ways.

However, there are some things you can do on your end to minimize the risks.

Let's start.

Shipping Options

As a rule, after putting products into a shopping cart, online customers, proceed to the checkout and fill in all the required information. At this step, they usually need to decide which shipping method suits them better.

On the one hand, it seems quite an easy task to do for a customer. On the other, it requires a big amount of preparation for a store owner.

Generally, you need to:

  • create a set of various shipping methods
  • establish flexible shipping rates
  • add a selection of shipping rules

Shipping Methods

Depending on the eCommerce platform, you need to create and configure shipping methods that meet your customers’ needs.

If your store is based on Magento, you already have some pre-configured methods.

In addition, the platform let’s you extend the default shipping functionality with the help of some extra extensions e.g. Magento 2 Shipping Suite. With the module you can also easily add custom shipping methods, manage the existing methods, block the ones that are no longer in use, etc.

In addition, you can make your shipping options even more attractive by introducing Free Shipping. This option is very popular with shoppers, and works great for reducing shopping cart abandonment.

Shipping Rates

It’s extremely important to find a good balance between shipping costs and profit that you gain from each sale. If you try to follow the chain that leads each product from your warehouse to your customer’s hands, you’ll find that it consists from many steps and additional fees of your shipping carriers. All these charges should be taken into consideration to reach shipping profitability.

As a rule, each carrier establishes their own, individual shipping rates. They usually depend on:

  • size and weight of the package
  • departing location and destination
  • tracking options
  • insurance

Hence, you need to carefully select carriers and closely analyze the methods they offer. Some of them may better suit for special types of products, others are designed to be used by big online stores.

Find the happy medium that satisfies both you and your customers’ needs. These tips will be of great help when choosing a shipping carrier.

Shipping Rules

In a desperate chase for ideally configured shipping methods you shouldn’t forget about setting up shipping rules. Rules can make up for disadvantages of some shipping methods, make shipping options a lot more flexible and enhance general customer shopping experience.

Here are some examples.

Buy More — Get Free Shipping' Rule

By introducing this condition, you can increase your average order value, and let savvy customers save on delivery services. All you need to do is to provide a free shipping rule for any orders that are over a certain amount. The amount mostly depends on the price of the products you sell.

Free Shipping for this Product Only’ Rule

Additionally, you can attract shoppers’ attention by offering free or discounted shipping fee on some certain products, or even a whole product category.

Free Shipping Only Today’ Rule

Also, you can use some high-peak shopping periods for free/ discounted shipping. During such periods sales amount usually goes up, which will make up for your shipping expenses.

As you can see, shipping rules are limited only by your imagination and business-related circumstances.

* * * * *

By optimizing these 3 shipping aspects, you can develop and implement a shipping strategy that fits into your business model. But that is not all that you can do — there are some additional details worth being mentioned.

Packaging

Customers’ expectations are growing year over year. At the beginning of eCommerce they appreciated the ability to buy online. Now, requirements are much higher — customers don’t expect to get just a product, they want to get great and memorable experience. Hence, paper envelope or sealed factory bags with simple black and white invoice inside is pretty awkward nowadays.

Look at Apple products to understand how much packaging is appreciated. Beautiful, well-designed boxes/packs are essential to stand your store out among the competitors. Also, it will be good to replace the invoice mentioned above with small card to thank customer for the purchase and improve the overall experience.

However, the package should not overshadow the product itself. Note, that this is only a good addition to the purchase and not the replacement that diverts customers attention.

Bottom-line

Developing and managing shipping functionality are a challenge for each eCommerce store.

Finding the right balance between shipping costs and customer’s experience requires a lot time, trial and efforts.

How did you organize shipping in your online store? Please share your experience in the comments section below.

Authors Bio

Vitaly Gonkov is a Chief Marketing Officer at MageWorx - one of the leading Magento 2 modules developer. Vitaly has been actively involved with online marketing since 2010. He has a broad range of expertise that spans many different types of eCommerce strategies and techniques. He is passionate about blogging, social networking and enjoys the challenges presented by the dynamic industry.



About the Writer

Editor is an editor for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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