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Is Your Shipping Process Complicated?
You’ve set up your online store and you’ve got the sale – now it’s time to sort out your shipping. The fulfilment and shipping process is one of the most important parts when it comes to customer experience. They expect to pay as little as possible, have their order arrive in a respectable time frame (usually quickly) and have all their purchases arrive in perfect condition.
Shipping is often one of those things that are left to the last minute to plan, and it becomes a long and complicated process. But with a little planning and understanding of the who, what, when, why and how of shipping, your fulfilment and shipping process can be smooth and fuss-free, getting you back to what you do bestselling your product.
When it comes to the shipping process, business owners need to weigh up firstly what e-commerce platform they are using, and then what carriers are available, what methods are available with those carriers, and how you’ll get your product out the door.
What Carrier to Use
A shipping carrier is simply the person you use to deliver your products to your customers. Most carriers will charge a certain price for each delivery based on weight, distance and whether you choose a standard post option or an express post option. Here in Australia, there is a range of carriers from Australia Post right through to small couriers who simply do local deliveries.
When choosing a carrier, there are a number of factors that come into play, and it’s important to choose a carrier that is right for your business and your products. You may also wish to choose a carrier that integrates with your online platform, for ease of postage costing and printing of shipping labels.
What to consider when choosing your shipping carrier:
- Pricing – Shipping costs are either passed onto the customer or added to your sale price and marketed as free shipping. It’s important to consider the costs of shipping to various places and whether you qualify for discounts or options on bulk shipping.
- Product Weight – All carriers have weight limits, so it’s important to ensure that all your products can be shipped with the one carrier. If this isn’t the case, you may need to choose a carrier for smaller products and then one that can deliver large or bulky products at a reasonable price.
- Domestic and International Shipping – Do you ship your products internationally? Finding a shipping carrier that can safely deliver international parcels is important.
- Delivery Options – Do you need a carrier that can supply a range of delivery options to your customers? Perhaps offering pick up locations outside of business hours, or happy to deliver to gated communities for example.
- Special Considerations – Depending on your product, you might like to choose a carrier who can meet particular considerations such as refrigerated delivery, only having people over a certain age sign for your products, insurance and so on.
The method you choose for shipping often revolves around the carrier you choose. This is what your customers really pay for, and generally, they want a choice of how their purchases will be shipped.
Many businesses offer two or three shipping methods for customers to choose from:
- Standard post – takes longer depending on the location of the purchaser. Often cheaper and charged as a flat rate
- Express post – delivered in a minimal time frame – cost is mid-range and usually a flat rate
- Courier delivery – delivered quickly, sometimes the same day. Costs usually vary depending on the location of the recipient and how quickly they want it delivered.
Some businesses also offer standard postage for free while express postage or courier delivery is charged at a higher rate. It really comes down to what works for your business.
The Fulfillment Process
Often the packing and labelling process can take the longest when it comes to your shipping, but it really should be the most straightforward. By utilising all functions of your e-commerce website, printing your shipping labels from your business location is quicker and easier than having to hand-write them or run to your post office to buy more packaging.
Product packaging is often the time-consuming part for any business when starting, but once you have it sorted, it becomes part of the process. You want your product to arrive safely, but you also want it to look great and delight your customers. Whether you choose branded packaging, utilise luxury tissue paper, wrap your breakables in extra materials or include personalised cards, it all needs to be incorporated into your shipping price or it becomes an extra cost your business has to cover.
The carrier, the shipping method and how you fulfil your orders all come together and should all fit in seamlessly with one another to help you get products out the door quickly and efficiently. Taking the time to set up your processes now, will save you time and money in the long run.
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