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Marketing & Sales
Oct 9, 2015

What’s My Shipment Worth? And Other E-Commerce Shipping Tips

Sponsored Content provided by Mike Duncan - CEO and Creative Director, Sage Island

Creating an online store for your business is a huge process. But for many shoppers, shipping policies and charges are the make-or-break factors when deciding if a future trip to your website is worth it. How do you determine the best practices and how much should be charged? Let’s start with some shipping do’s and don’ts.

Don’t wait for shipping costs to display at the end of the checkout process. Online shoppers are interested in seeing additional charges as they add products to their carts. In fact, they expect it. Imagine this scenario: an online seller decides it wants to charge customers the exact shipping and handling price the seller has to pay. Charges are not added to the selected products until final checkout. The result? Abandoned shopping carts, lost sales opportunities, and customers who will most likely not return. Build trust and user experience with your customers by clearly stating your shipping policy beforehand along with shipping charges.

Do check over your final product before shipping. Are the correct address, phone number and order number noted? Is the packaged product the correct item for the order? There is nothing wrong with reviewing your orders more than once to ensure the right packages are going out the door.

Don’t leave your shipping delivery date in the dark. Nobody likes uncertainty with an online purchase, especially when on a deadline. Giving an estimated date of delivery allows customers to be prepared for a package’s arrival. Most importantly, do not lie about an order’s delivery date. Not knowing the exact time an order will arrive is fine, but the date is crucial. The best option, in my opinion, is providing an AWB (air waybill) so customers can track their packages from the carrier company’s website.

Do expect exchanges and refunds. We’d like to think every order is exactly what the customer wanted, but exchanges and refunds are part of the e-commerce game. Make sure you have a clearly defined policy regarding these processes. This should also be given as an invoice or confirmation email upon the completion of checkout.

What’s the Magic Shipping Charge?

In a perfect world, online sellers can charge for shipping without losing any money, while at the same time market the entire offer to customers in a captivating way. There are three factors to think about when determining the best option for your business.

Customers

Think about your customers’ geographic location. Are they located in the United States, internationally or both? Do they reside in areas that lead to additional expenses? Let’s say your business is in the middle of the United States. Most of your customer base is in neighboring states and a few are in other countries. If you’re considering a flat-rate shipping fee, don’t forget about your international customers. Your U.S. clients will be allowed that flat rate, but your out-of-country buyers will pay an additional fee. Don’t feel this option is out of the question, as it’s common to charge more to customers who are outside the United States.

Products

Examine your products. Do you consider them cheap or expensive? Are they heavy or light? How much on average do you pay for shipping your products? Imagine an online t-shirt store with an average margin of $5 per order. With margins that small, free shipping isn’t the best option. But because tees are lightweight and shipping them is cheap, offering a flat-rate shipping charge might be a good idea. Now picture an online store selling expensive items such as watches. High-cost items may have higher margins, but that also allows the seller to consider losing some of the margin to offer free shipping. And in most cases, customers expect free shipping when it comes to high-cost items.

Competition

Always check out what the competition is doing. Do you sell in an industry that has hundreds of online store options? Are your products homemade, and therefore less known or unique? The level of competitiveness and niche of your product will determine your decision.

Shipping Offer Options

There are several shipping offers to consider other than free shipping. It all comes down to what’s best for your business.

  • Free shipping minimum. Free shipping is given with a minimum purchase of “X” amount. This option is great for generating larger orders.
  • Free shipping on “product or category.” Free shipping is given to specific products. You’ll still be able to market the idea of free shipping to your customers, but without the risk of going broke.
  • Flat-rate shipping. Shipping price is universal, regardless of purchase. It’s easy for customers to understand and they’re aware of the price up front. This option may not be the best one for sellers specializing in high-weighted items, as shipping heavier products is more costly.
  • Free shipping to specific customers. There’s nothing better than receiving a special gift for being a loyal customer. That’s why memberships and loyalty programs are so popular with retailers. If you want repeat buyers, creating a loyalty program that offers perks such as free shipping is a great option.
Shipping policies and charges are tricky. It takes a lot of analyzing and testing to figure out what’s best for your business. There’s nothing wrong with trying new tactics, especially around the holidays and at peak seasons. The main focus is delivering customer satisfaction. If you need help providing the best user experience for your online store, Sage Island is ready to help. Our team of programmers, designers and content marketing specialists can transform your e-commerce store into a user-friendly platform with a seamless checkout process. You choose the shipping charges and policies, and we’ll make sure your customers are guided to the right information.

Mike Duncan co-founded Sage Island in 1997, and since then has evolved the agency’s scope to include marketing strategy, creative design, technical development and a wide range of digital marketing services. With an integrated approach that leverages the power and measurability of the internet, the savvy Sage Island team develops strategies, builds brands, writes killer copy and delivers to clients all over the world. And they have an awesome time doing it. Sage’s collaborative working environment keeps creativity and innovation at the heart of the concept. With a 17-year history in Wilmington and beyond, Sage Island shows no signs of slowing down. To learn how Sage Island can grow your business, check us out at www.sageisland.com. To stay updated on the latest in digital marketing, follow Sage Island on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SageIsland, and on Twitter at twitter.com/SageIsland.
 

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