Bringing a product to market is chalked full of rewards, challenges and milestones to hit, but few are less talked about than the elusive, final step of shipping. Although shipping may be the last thing on a first-time seller’s brain, it’s a critical stage that if poorly executed can destroy you. We’re kidding--it won’t destroy you, it might just cause premature forehead wrinkles.
To save you from developing irreversible lines, we spoke to our friends at ShipStation. ShipStation provides eCommerce shipping fulfilment software that has helped thousands of retailers tackle all-things shipping since 2011. The shipping geniuses gave us an all-access pass into their world, and helped us carve out the 6 best tips and practices to ship like a pro and sell more while you do it.
6 Best Tips and Tricks to Ship Better and Sell More
1. Make Shipping “Free”. If You Can’t Do This, Make it Simple.
Nothing is simpler than free. If you can offer free shipping, you’ve eliminated a massive reason why customers fail to pull the trigger on a purchase. According to a survey conducted by Forrester Research, the number one cause for online cart abandonment is high shipping and handling costs. If you’ve done the research and have the necessary shipping cost projections, adding this total into an inclusive product price can lead to better conversions and fewer carts with abandonment issues.
If offering a shipping-inclusive product total is too great a calculated risk, flat shipping is often the next best thing.
Tip: If you can’t permanently commit to inclusive pricing, consider running a “free shipping” marketing promotion. This is a great way to boost sales, or at the very least, A/B test how valuable rounded pricing is to your consumers.
2. Make a Shipping Explainer Video or Image Reel
We’re living in the digital age and what’s more digital than an explainer video? Okay, there are probably a few things. But nonetheless, videos can help justify your product or shipping costs, explain the process, and offer your customers trust-gaining transparency. According to ReelSEO, “73 percent of customers are more likely to make a purchase after watching a video..” And in case you were getting self-conscious that a video is a bit over the top, there are over 9,000 videos about shipping costs and processes on Youtube.
In a virtual reality nutshell, communicating your shipping process and policies justifies your pricing, creates patience and understanding with customers, and is something that can lead to more sales.
3. Include Shipping FAQs
Along the same vein as a shipping explainer video, FAQs about your shipping process and policies help to gain customer trust, while justifying your fulfilment timeline and pricing. To put it simply, answering key shipping questions in an easy-to-find, digestible way is crucial for your conversions and sales. Explaining the 5 W’s--who, what, when, where and why--of shipping helps seal the deal.
4. “Every Click Counts”. Automation, Automate, Automated.
Printing shipping labels or notifying customers when their product has shipped may seem like minor drops in your to-do bucket, but tasks like these quickly add up. As the Shipstation team reiterates, “it’s all about reducing the clicks and number of steps”. For busy sellers automation is truly king (or queen).
Shipstation allows its customers to set up automation rules and filters, building in countless “if this, than that” scenarios to streamline fulfillment, processing, and shipping. Setting automation rules like adding insurance onto only international orders, matching product weight to appropriate box sizes, or ensuring return labels are included in select orders, will save you tons of valuable time (and stress). Pair these rules with other time-saving automations like sending customized email notifications to customers when XYZ events happen and shipping will become gleefully more manageable.
Tip: With Shipstation you can print hundreds of packing slips and printing labels in a batch. When order volume is high, you’ll save time and money by printing your own sticker labels with a thermal printer and 4x6 labels.
5. Track, Compare and Measure Spend
Just like every extra click counts, every extra cost can snowball into a sum that’s hard to swallow. Inefficiencies add up. In order to squash small problems or areas of improvement before they escalate, it’s important to track and measure spend. This is where a shipping report comes in, as well as other useful tools like Shipstation’s shipping rate calculator. With the calculator you can cross compare carriers, service types, estimated shipping times and most importantly, costs. The higher your shipping volume, the more time and money you can save with some due diligence.
6. For the Love of Customers, Customize!
Packaging by Smoko.
You’ve made the sale, but the selling shouldn’t stop here. According to Adobe report, The ROI from Marketing to Existing Online Customers, “40 percent of U.S. online retail sales come from returning (shopped at a site once) or repeat (shopped at a site more than once) customers”. In other words, the opportunity for your customers to come back for more is huge. However, in order to take advantage of this opportunity, you have to deliver a buying experience that exceeds expectation. As the theme of shipping has proven, it’s all in the details, and customizing your customers post-purchase experience wins hearts (and wallets).
Here are a few ways to customize the shipping process to leave a lasting impression on your customers.
a) Personalize Tracking Information
Sending a personalized email that contains the need-to-know shipment tracking information is an easy way to offer your customers another dose of your brand’s personality. A personalized email with tracking information adds to customer experience and gives you another opportunity to thank your customers, share a promotion, ask them to join your social network and so forth. Keep the email light and punchy, and be sure to use your customer’s first name in the subject line and text.
Tip: If you’re crushing sales, developing customer login accounts on your own website to house updates and promotions (like tracking information) is the ultimate way to brand customer experience and reduce the number of clicks to a repeat purchase.
b) Have Fun With Your Packing Slips
A packing slip is basically a detailed receipt including the customer’s name, your return address, items ordered and whatever else. It’s included in your shipment box. It’s also totally customizable, and it should be. This piece of paper is a physical way to connect with your customers--whether it be sharing a personal story about your product, including behind-the-scene polaroid of how your product was made, or including a “hand-written” post-it note by the creator. Have fun with the shipping basics and you can strengthen your brand identity while making your customers feel as though they’re a part of your exclusive club. After all, they are, aren’t they?
c) Turn Your Packaging into Marketing Material
As the Adobe report highlights, it’s worth spending money to market to existing customers. If you think of your customers as the hottest leads you have toward more sales, whether it be from that customer directly or by referral, this point rings a lot louder. Shipping a creative, sleek, well-designed package is one the “extras” that stands out. It’s also one of few marketing materials that will ever interact with your buyers physically.
>> Food for Thought: Typical crowdfunders and pre-order sellers are in an especially good position to invest in customized packaging for shipment as they have very few SKUs. This means that generally only one box, for a single-sized product needs to be designed well.
There you have it, everything you need to know about shipping. If you need any help managing fulfilling your shipments, reach out to Shipstation today. While you’re at it, join our blog for content that touches on all thing crowdfunding and pre-orders.