The Beginner’s Guide to Shipping
- Written by Jodie Pride
You might not realise it at first but shipping is a core component of your company. It can be the deciding factor on whether a customer will make a repeat purchase: providing shipping that’s slow or sloppy can cost you customers, so it’s worth getting your shipping on point if you want to keep customers satisfied and loyal.
The world of shipping is a complex and confusing one. For many new ecommerce entrepreneurs, getting started with your shipping strategy may seem like a challenge, but once you do your research and understand they key to getting shipping right, you’ll be a pro in no time.
Let’s take a look at what beginners need to do to get their shipping right.
It’s hard to get excited about boxes and envelopes, but they’re a necessity when it comes to shipping. If you don’t package your product correctly, your goods could get damaged. Damaged goods = angry customers. Angry customers aren’t repeat customers, so you can see why it’s a good idea to get psyched about packaging.
Protect the goods: that’s they key. Sturdy packaging that protects your items is a good place to start, but make sure your packing materials are suitable for the goods inside.
Think of the fragility of the items you’re shipping: clothing generally wouldn’t require much padding, but anything breakable (think porcelain, electricals) will need something quite substantial. Newspaper, packing peanuts, bubble wrap - there are plenty of options when it comes to protecting fragile goods.
Packaging provides another function besides protection: marketing. Adding some branding to plain packaging is a great way to subtly market your goods. You can get creative with this: think of your packaging as another marketing platform - make it stand out, catch people’s eyes, this could be a great opportunity to set yourself apart. This could be anything from a splash of branded tape to a bold and colourful box.
Keep it light
Most shipping couriers charge based on size and weight, so it’s worth putting some effort into making your packaging as small and light as possible.
Get yourself a digital shipping scale (they’re not expensive - you can pick them up for about £20) so you can accurately weigh your packages. This could save you money by allowing you to correctly forecast posting costs, and also save you time by eliminating the need to queue at the post office.
Buy in bulk
Everything is cheaper when bought in bulk. It’s a fact of life. Bubble wrap, tape, boxes - you name it, it’ll be cheaper if you buy a load of it now.
There are plenty of companies selling cheap packing materials on eBay at reasonable prices, but if you email them and explain that you’ll be ordering in bulk possibly more than once, they might be willing to cut you a deal.
If you’re selling on Amazon it might be worth using Amazon’s fulfilment option, Amazon FBA. This service allows you to store your products in Amazon’s fulfillment centers.
They will also pick, pack, ship, and provide customer service for these products so that you don’t have to, leaving you to focus on sourcing your inventories and also allowing you to take a large cut of the sale for yourself
It can be a great time and money saver, so look into it if you’re a high volume seller.
Calculating Shipping Fees
All shipping couriers base shipping rates on a variety of factors including:
- Package Size
- Package Weight
- Departing Country
- Destination Country
Because different couriers offer different services and options, it can be difficult to compare them. Make sure you shop around and try to find the best deals for shipping; you could also try negotiating rates with couriers who may be willing to cut you a deal if you’re going
Customer Shipping Options
If you’re going to charge your customers for postage, they’re going to expect a high standard of shipping - that means their items should arrive on time, if not earlier, and perfectly intact. Late and or damaged goods aren’t going to go down well with customers who are paying for the service.
Offering your customers free shipping is becoming an increasingly popular option and has shown a lot of promise in reducing shopping cart abandonment. However, as you might suspect, shipping is never free. Someone always has to pay. In this case, again, you have a few options.
- Increase product prices to cover costs for shipping
- You pay the full price of shipping out of your margins
- Increase prices of products slightly to cover partial costs of shipping
You can learn more about getting the most out of small business shipping here.