When it comes to running an eCommerce website, shipping is no doubt, an important aspect of it. However, at the same time, it is also one of the most difficult aspects of any eCommerce web development. More often than not, it is observed that people do not pay much attention to shipping practices during the eCommerce website development.
The truth is that shipping and delivery time are some of the biggest complaints from customers purchasing products online. Although many stores offer free shipping to customers, but customers expect products to be delivered as soon as possible. And if the shipping is not free, then customers complain about the cost even when the merchant directly passes down fees with no markup.
Whatever be the complications, the one fact that remains unchanged is that- shipping is important for any online store. This post is aimed to give a clear understanding on how to present, charge, and handle shipping services and fees, when it comes to small online retailers.
Ensure that your website has a shipping policy section
Having a shipping policy is a must. It gives a clear message to your customers about what they can expect from you. Also, it makes them happy to know that you will do exactly what you. Whatever be your shipping policies, it is important to post them on your website. They might not be very alluring to customers, but giving them a clear idea about what you can do for them, is likely to help you. It is also important to keep in mind that the shipping policy is a fallback point and not a guideline. You must ship the product on time as listed in your policy.
Let customers know the shipping options, prices and delivery time
It always works in your favour to have various shipping options, their prices and estimated delivery time listed clearly on your website. Now this does not mean that you ask the customers to provide the shipping address before you show them shipping options. You should ask for their zip code only when prices vary based on the delivery location.
Having a list with a radio button is certainly a good way presenting your shipping options to your customers. The customers can select their desired method from the list. A list is definitely better than a drop down box. You can always preselect the cheapest or the best shipping method for your customers. The delivery time should be as accurate as possible. Delivering products before the due date is perfectly fine, but delivering even a day late is certainly bad.
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Be careful if you offer free shipping
Free shipping is a good way to attract customers. It can even help improve the sales rate of your business. When people have to pay the shipping price, they feel robbed off. However, if the shipping is cheap or free, it is like a psychological motivation for customers.
It should be remembered that canceling free shipping abruptly can prove to be fatal for your business. You can even lose your old customers by doing so. A good alternative to free shipping is to have shipping based on price thresholds. However, you also need to tread carefully here as it can backfire. To avoid this, you must calculate your products and shipping fees so that you do not end up losing your profit by offering this.
Although the fact that USPS can be great for some product types can not be denied, but, at the same time, it is also true that it does not work for all products. USPS usually works for low ticket products that can be crammed into a pre-paid priority box. The problem lies in the way USPS works – customers can see the cryptic postdated message after it’s updated. Then, the package pickup services leave something to be desired. It requires you to have the box at the pickup location or post office very early for it to go out the same day. And in order to make this work, you need to delay all orders from shipping by a day.
Thirdly, you can never be sure about the delivery time. It is very much possible for a package to get delivered in the same state at different time intervals. There is no reliable way to find out the estimated delivery time. And if your customers ask you by when can they expect the package, you will feel bad for not having an answer to their query. Lastly, if USPS loses a package, that usually happens, it will be a great mess before you find it and get the compensation for it.
Shipping a package now is probably one of the most important things. And you must do it. Do not, in any case, wait for a day or two to pack the product, another day to label it, and then another day to drop it. What you must do is- put it in a box, put a label and get it out for shipping. If you want to be counted among the reliable names, then your packages must go out for shipping on the very day you receive the order. Customers find it really annoying when they have to wait to get to know whether the package has been shipped already or not. You can even lose your customers by delaying the shipping. The quicker you ship, the happier your customers will be.
Keep the customers informed
It is in your best interest to keep your customers informed about everything right from the purchasing to shipping to delivery process. Ensure that the customer is regularly updated with the status of their order. This is certainly one of the easily achievable things and you should make the most of it to turn things in your favour. First thing to be done is to send an email to the customer to let them know that their order has been received.
Next, you should email them when you ship the product. If any glitch occurs, the you must email them about it too. This is especially important in case when a product is back-ordered. In such a scenario, sending an email is a proactive approach to solve the problem of your customer. It conveys to them that you care enough about their satisfaction. It also prevents chargebacks. Last but not the least, it gives you an excellent opportunity to make another sale with your new customer. You can offer coupons or other incentives to gain a repeat customer.
These are some of the unavoidable shipping practices to be followed by every business website. No matter how good a business is running, it requires these practices to minimize the complaints from customers. After all, if you make a customer happy, you ensure that they come back to you next time as well. It will ensure that you remain in the good books of your customers and they will certainly come back to you, should they require any other product in future.