Growing your business online is undoubtedly a smart step, especially after almost everything has gone virtual, contactless, and online due to the global pandemic. But even before the world was hit by COVID- 19, companies have allotted their resources to strengthen their online presence to promote sustainable practices and manage carbon emission.
Having an effective shipping strategy has an immense impact on your growth as a business and continuing your sustainable retail practices — and this is why it is essential to come up with ways to increase your margins and separate your business from the competition.
Below are a few tips and best practices in coming up with a solid shipping strategy for your business:
But, first, identify and communicate with your stakeholders.
Before doing anything, there needs to be a consensus among all your stakeholders, including your web design and development team, marketing team, fulfillment team, and customer service team. Here’s a brief rundown on how these teams factor into the decision-making and what information to get from them:
Web Design and Development
You need to make sure that you and this team are well-coordinated regarding what shipping options to post and the right time to show them — and that the offers are presented clearly to the customers. It would help to ask them the following questions:
- What shipping options and offers appeal most to customers?
- What is their primary motivation or driver — speed, cost, or other options?
- Should there be A/B testing conducted? If so, how would the separate pages be designed?
This team will promote new offers and shipping options to attract new customers and retain existing ones. Ask them the following questions:
- How often should we run the promotions and still maintain current margins?
- Which products tend to be left in the cart the longest? Will it help to offer discounted or free shipping for them?
You also have to ensure that the fulfillment team can handle whatever strategy you come up with. No matter what the customer chooses, people in fulfillment must pick, pack, and ship their items accurately and timely. You can ask them the following questions:
- Are the new shipping options going to slow down operations?
- Is the entire team aware of the upcoming shipping promotions?
- Will the service providers you work with agree with the options we offer?
Customer Service Team
Being the ones “facing” the customers, this team needs to understand how your approach to shipping will affect the customers. Check on them on the following:
- Is the team up to speed when it comes to the new shipping strategy?
- In case of a bad experience with the new approach, how will you handle a customer complaint?
Specify your goals
What do you want to achieve with the new shipping strategies? First, identify your area and focus so that you can narrow down your strategy even further. For example, do you aim to increase your conversion rate? Do you want to expand your market share or target audience? Do you want to reduce costs? Do you want to increase the order average value? Or do you want to make your operations more efficient overall? Identifying your goal and which area to focus on will help you develop a more comprehensive and effective strategy.
- Choose the best shipping strategy for you. Now that you’ve gained insights from your stakeholders and specified the goals of your strategy, you can now weigh in on your shipping strategy options.
- In-store pickup. This is a viable option if you have a physical store or a brick-and-mortar location. You can disable the free shipping option for local buyers and encourage them to pick up their items from the store for free. This opens up an opportunity for an upselling while in the store.
- Same-day delivery. This works best for perishable or time-sensitive items and if you have multiple fulfillment centers in different locations. You can add a surcharge for this option to gain more profit and impress customers with a prompt delivery service.
- Free Shipping. Most customers leave their items in the cart because of the high shipping costs. However, you can entice customers by offering free shipping and profit by setting a certain amount of purchase to qualify.
- Implement and evaluate
It is time to implement everything in place — the stakeholders on their respective tasks, your specific goals, and the shipping strategy of choice. As a project manager or leader, you do not have to do everything at once. Tasks must be delegated to team members, and your job is to make sure that everyone is on the same page regarding the strategy. Once your shipping strategy goes live, implement regular check-ins and reporting with the teams for you to have real-time updates and solutions to possible problems.