Your ecommerce business relies on dependable shipping, and how you manage that shipping process may make or break your business. Now more than ever, the importance of fast shipping and speedy deliveries are a necessity that few customers will do without.
But it’s not just about delivery speeds and quality shipping (although that’s a big part), it’s also about the cost of shipping, the ability to offer effortless returns, and the “unboxing” experience. There’s a LOT that goes into creating a cohesive shipping plan as a small business.
Lucky for you, we’ve got all the tips and tricks to bring your shipping strategy to the next level. We’ll be diving into how to:
- Increase your Shipping Speed
- Improve Shipping Costs for your Customers
- Enhance your Return Process
- Brand your Packaging
- Develop a Strong Business Strategy
- Work with a 3PL
Increase Your Shipping Speeds
Due to impressive delivery standards set by industry giants like Amazon, your small business is expected to match that competitive pace. In many instances customers require free shipping as well.
Expedited shipping calls for higher prices on behalf of your business AND your customers. However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible for your business to offer fast shipping at a low rate. Carriers offer numerous services and opportunities, at varying rates. There will never be a one-size-fits-all solution for shipping speeds and costs. Our advice? Take the multi-carrier approach. You’ll never know what works best for your business without trying out different carriers first!
Every carrier has different shipping standards, including pricing on delivery size, volume restrictions, distance rates, and more. Each carrier has strengths and weaknesses, and finding the best shipping method for your small business is not just about operating at the lowest rate. Having guaranteed delivery times and better carrier-provided insurance can save your business money in the long-term and guarantees customer loyalty and trust with consistent shipping standards.
Navigate your carriers and aim for the highest discounts for your business while offering the best rates for your customers. Shelling out more money on expedited shipping in the short term may offer the greatest benefits for customer loyalty and support in the long term.
Improve Shipping Costs for Your Customers
Every business wants to save on margins while staying competitive in an aggressive market. The right choice truly depends on your individual business. Let’s consider the options.
Free 2-day shipping is and will always be the goal to meet when it comes to the updated ecommerce standard (thanks, Amazon)! Your business doesn’t want to lose a profit on shipping, but many studies have shown that shipping costs truly dictate whether a customer sticks to their purchase or abandons their cart at checkout. Keep this in mind when deciding your general costs.
Studies also show that customers are willing to wait longer for a product if they are guaranteed free shipping at checkout. This means your business can choose more cost effective shipping methods to make good on those business margins. Many businesses also use a minimum purchase order to offer free shipping to customers, guaranteeing customers buy more products to gain a better deal on shipping. If your business can offer free shipping, do it!
Flat Rate Shipping
Flat rate shipping is a great alternative to free shipping, offering a set rate for different service levels. This is ideal for businesses with similar sizing needs and shipping rates. This number may vary slightly per order, but ultimately even out over time.
Enhance Your Return Process
You will have customers return items, it’s inevitable. Whether it’s an unwanted product or wrong sizing, offering easy returns is key to gaining customers back. Many customers check out returns policies before making a purchase, for fear of not receiving refunds if something goes amiss. We suggest making returns an easy process.
Having a customer-focused return policy reduces risk for the consumer and shows your business is customer-centric. When you offer a great experience and return policy, your initial sales are bound to become repeat customers. Offer easy returns and gain strong customer loyalty. It’s really that simple!
Brand Your Packaging
Loyalty is born and bred in your company’s customer service and branding. Let your packaging do the talking! If you’re selling on marketplaces that require strict packaging standards, stick to them. But if you’re selling directly from your business, now is the time to truly connect with your customers in a unique way.
When you sell from your store, it’s time to make your mark. Reinforce your brand messaging and voice by connecting at this key touchpoint in the customer experience process. A recent survey found that 40% of customers regularly post interesting and unique packaging or unboxing on social media (most prominently TikTok and Instagram Stories) - spreading brand awareness like wildfire.
The opportunities are endless. Consider custom shipping boxes or tissue paper, or even throw in company stickers, exciting extras or a customized note. It’s all about the unboxing experience, so make it memorable. Your unique packaging and unboxing experience truly connects your business to your customer. Don’t miss the chance.
Develop a Strong Business Strategy
Consider your business approach and how your strategy can benefit your shipping plans. We already discussed previously the importance of testing out a multi-carrier approach. Consider also using a multi-channel approach.
Take all the opportunities you can to promote your business and make it accessible to potential customers. Although there is room for success selling directly off your website or a single channel, the opportunities truly become endless when you expand your sales into new markets. The more channels you add, the more you sell. Easy.
Do a little bit of market research and learn about the pros and cons of marketplaces like Amazon, Etsy, and Walmart, and find the opportunity that works best for you. Take note of each platform's requirements and choose the platform that serves your business the best and requires needs that are easy to adhere to. Multi-channel selling means more sales but also more aggressive shipping needs, so stay on top of your shipping quality while expanding seamlessly.
Work with a 3PL
Working with a third-party logistics (3PL) service takes the strain off of the fulfillment aspect of ecommerce business. If you’re looking to expand your shipping and fulfillment management, we will always recommend working with the right 3PL service to get you set up for success.
Although incurring additional costs and relinquishing some company control on the fulfillment side, working with a 3PL service offers an abundance of assistance as you grow and scale your business. Many 3PLs offer product storage and pick, pack, and shipping on your businesses’ behalf. What more could you ask for?
Where Your Business is Headed…
Take Saltbox, for example. Offering the best of the best when it comes to logistic and fulfillment solutions, Saltbox solves the toughest parts of growing your business with comprehensive logistics support in a community-focused workspace. Aiming to always support growing ecommerce businesses across the country, Saltbox is offering the perfect place to improve your shipping and logistics through hands-on care that goes above and beyond average 3PL services.
Researching the right 3PL service to assist your business in improving your shipping doesn’t have to be a hassle. Learn more about choosing the right 3PL service at our blog here. Your shipping is one small element of your logistics, and we’re here to help. Learn about Saltbox at our website and book a tour to check out your local Saltbox soon!
At Saltbox, we want to grow your small business with you. Offering all the key fulfillment services all businesses require across a wide array of locations nationwide, Saltbox aims to benefit your growing business by focusing on those personal needs that many 3PL services overlook. You don’t have to expand your business alone. Get started with Saltbox Fulfillment today.