Ecommerce Shipping and Fulfilment – A Guide for Small Businesses
Shipping services play an essential and seamless role in the functioning of the entire global economy. Ecommerce shipping and fulfillment is a challenge for every sector or business, especially for small businesses.
The use of shipping/courier services has increased astoundingly over the past few years and keeps on rising. The boom of online shopping and e-commerce channels has further fueled the demand for courier services. Pitney Bowes Parcel Shipping Index Reports reveal The United States holds the record for generating the highest revenue from shipping packages, somewhere close to $119 billion. This data shows the new trends and customer demands have changed the industry, and the E-commerce boom fuels the growth of shipping/courier firms.
However, not every retailer understands that shipping and fulfillment costs are of the main reasons for shopping cart abandonment. According to research, 44% of online shoppers did not complete their transactions due to high shipping and handling fees.
If you are new to a business and aren’t sure how to start with the shipping process, or you’re an established company interested in learning the basic rules for a successful shipping strategy, here are some tips for tackling the biggest challenges in shipping that startups and small e-commerce retailers face.
- Choosing the right vendor
To identify the right shipping mix as per your business needs is the first step in building a successful shipping strategy. Some small retailers start with the most well-known shipping vendors like UPS and FedEx that feel safe and established, but might be your volume is small enough to justify the expense.
However, using just one carrier may seem like a simple solution. Still, as your business grows, you will need to select a multi-step and multi-vendor shipping arrangement to ensure safe and faster deliveries at a reasonable price.
If you regularly ship bulky products or post packages to overseas, then it is recommended to consider local shipping vendor who helps you transport freight safely, cheaper, faster, and easier, so you can stay focused on your business expenses.
- Packaging and Labeling
With increasing customer expectations, online shopping has raised the importance of Packaging. Good Packaging does not only ensure the products reach safely to the customers, but it also gives your brand’s message.
There are two types of Packaging to consider:
- Utility Packaging – Standard packages that are available in the market.
- Branded Packaging – Produce your own branded packages for marketing the brand.
Small businesses often start with utility packages as it is cheaper and doesn’t take much effort as compared to branded Packaging. Branded packaging is costly, but it will give huge marketing and branding benefits.
However, some other fulfillment methods like dropshipping may not allow you to use your own branded packaging design.
- Shipping technologies and analytics
Technology has played an essential role in managing the shipping process more easily. Businesses of all sizes can track shipments at every point of time that ensure customers receive accurate and timely updates.
Traditionally, if a customer reports an incorrect or damaged product, you had to take their word for it. Now, however, Businesses can use new technologies like video surveillance, real-time tracking, and other analytics tools in their entire supply chains.
This also helps in providing tracking details for customers, as they want to know exactly where their purchases are and when they will be expected to arrive.
It is advisable to retailers that they should evaluate their shipping strategy every six months to ensure that it’s operating with efficiency and delivering the best possible results to customers at a reasonable cost to your business.
- Insurance & tracking
Insurance and tracking give you better ease of mind, especially when your products are of high value.
Most shipping services already include insurance in their fees. The only difference is the type of products they insure, with the associated terms and conditions. A lot of shipping services provide this information throughout their shipping journey.
A simple confirmation email will be good to inform your customers of their expected delivery of goods after they’ve placed their order. This is an excellent method to up-sell / cross-sell.
- Customs & duties
When you are shipping internationally, please pay attention to custom taxes and duties as they vary from country to country and product to product. Detailed research is required on this matter.
Know each country’s rules and regulation
- what products are permitted to be imported and exported;
- what minimum limit to begin charging customs duty at;
- The rate of customs duty.
Conclusion: This all has set high expectations in terms of shipping prices and delivery speed, as the consumers have become adapted to free shipping for online purchases. Large businesses can easily achieve this, but it may seem overwhelming for small business owners. However, by fulfilling these expectations, smaller companies can create a unique customer experience that converts shoppers into loyal, happy customers.
It requires a lot of planning and hard work by retailers to create these results for consumers. Retailers need to refine their shipping strategy and restructure their fulfillment and delivery processes. For maintaining customer loyalty, shipping speeds and costs are more critical than ever.
Most online shoppers prefer to choose ‘free’ over ‘fast,’ but with a growing number of retail outlets – Amazon, eBay and others, retailers of all sizes (both small and large) have to find ways to cater to every customer’s interests and requirements.
With the rising competition in the e-commerce industry, shipping costs play an essential role in consumers’ buying decisions. So these retailers need to develop a pricing structure that is competitive with big online retailers. Once you identify the right shipping partners, the process becomes far more convenient and manageable.
Author Name- Donny Brown
Author Bio- As a marketing professional, consultant, and blogger, I commonly write and talk about e-commerce shipping strategies, its supply chain, and fulfillment at Ship Asia Express. I helped the logistics company with an emphasis on all aspects of shipping, including working with customs to get your packages cleared. They specialize in multiple forms of international shipping deliveries to all Asian and neighboring countries with the most efficient mode of transport for the package, whether by land, sea, or air, to ensure that it reaches its destination safely and on time.