If you’re one of the many retailers across the globe that are generating a substantial amount of revenue from online sales, then 2018 should be the year you in invest in a shipping platform.
Shipping and fulfilment may appear to be an inconspicuous aspect of running a business, but it’s actually fiercely important to your overall business and profitability and your brand. Delivering a bad customer experience (pun intended), will not only incur unnecessary costs on your business, but it will result in unhappy customers and possibly bad reviews.
Which shipping strategy are you using?
Without even realising it, if you have an online business, you’re implementing a shipping model. Maybe you put a lot of time and thought into the exact shipping model you want to use, or maybe there was too little time for you to think about it and you just started shipping orders as they came in without trying to optimise it. Whatever the case is here, we’ve outlined the main shipping methods businesses are using in 2018.
Shipping from home, manually
Small businesses often have humble beginnings, which is why you’ll find it’s not uncommon for new business owners to ship orders from home. If you’re first starting off, you may not have had the time to consider the most efficient ways to ship, and therefore writing labels and walking to the post office most be invoking nostalgia in you right now.
Shipping from home manually is fine at first. But if you’re looking to grow and scale, you’ll need to look into more efficient means of managing orders and getting goods to your customers.
Shipping from home, automatically
If you’re all-star when it comes to being forward-thinking and organised, then you’ll have already thought about the best ways to manage shipping. Or maybe you’re generating too many orders that it’s too difficult to write labels and ferry goods to the post office. If this is the case, you’ll have set up automated label printing,
Shipping from a fulfilment warehouse
Medium to large businesses will most likely require more storage space than the average humble abode offers. If this is the case, you’ll most likely be shipping orders automatically once their received from a fulfilment warehouse. We have heaps of tips and tricks to make sure your warehouse is in tip-top shape, so make sure you check out our Warehousing articles on CeMAT Insider
If you utilising this shipping method, then you don’t need to worry about cluttering your home with shipping supplies or having the added expense of a fulfilment centre.
Drop shipping is broader supply chain management method, rather than it relating solely to shipping), as it retailers who utilise this strategy don’t need to physically store their stock. Orders are received and transferred to a manufacturer, retailer or wholesales who then ships the goods directly to the customer.
It doesn’t really matter which shipping strategy you’re currently using at the moment, as long as you’re meeting your goals and targets and keeping your customers happy. But if you’re looking to grow and scale your business all while making sure you get returning customers, then you’ll want to look into a shipping platform to turn order fulfilment into an opportunity rather than a challenge.
Why are shipping platforms important for retailers?
In 2016, Temando reported on the state of shipping in commerce, and you’ll be surprised how many shipments are made per week:
- 29% of businesses make 5-20 shipments per week
- 35% of businesses make 21-100 shipments per week
- 23% of businesses make 101-1,000 shipments per week
- 10% of businesses make 1,001-5,000 shipments per week
- 1% of businesses make more than 5,001 shipments per week
Most businesses won’t fall into the 1%, but it’s fair to say with the projected growth of eCommerce in 2018, these figures will be increasing for more and more businesses across Australia.
If you’re looking to scale or grow your business, the technology platforms you’re utilising will directly impact this. Say for example you’re currently selling on your online site, but you’re looking to expand to Amazon or event eBay. If the processes you have in place are manual, and you have a high volume of shipments per week, you’ll be spending much more capital and resources shipping each item compared to if your shipping was managed automatically for you.
70% of customers say they have abandoned a cart because the shipping cost was too high, and 47% said they abandoned carts because the cost of shipping was communicated too late in the process. A shipping platform will manage shipping rates automatically and help you drive down the costs of each individual shipment. This means you should seriously consider a shipping platform this year.
What a good shipping platform should offer you
Each business has its own unique set of variables when it comes to getting a product from point A to point B. That’s why no shipping strategy will look the same. The CeMAT team wants you to get the product that’s the right fit for you, so rather than recommendation specific suppliers, we thought it would be great to list a few features and benefits that you should look for when researching which shipping platform will be the best fit for you.
1. It will drive you shipping costs down
Did you know that something as small as getting the right packaging size for your products will directly impact your shipping costs? This is exactly why Amazon bases every process in their warehouse on algorithms, from how far away an item is from the picker, to what size box a shipment will require.
Make sure your shipping platform will provide you with not only an easier shipping solution, but a cheaper one. After all, this is what customers are looking for in 2018.
2. It will streamline your shipping process
The last thing you want as a business owner is to invest in a new technology that works in a silo and takes up more of your time to run and manage it. A shipping solution should be simple and integrate into your current software.
When you’re speaking with a sales rep, let them know what you’re currently using, and ask them if their solution can integrate or even replace your current technologies.
3. It has backend tracking features
Although 94% of customers want visibility into their expected shipping date, only 56% of retailers offer it. Further, 93% of customers expect email communication on updates about their shipment, but only 58% of retailers offer it.
You need to make sure you shipping platform has the ability to track data from 3PL providers so you’re not needlessly frustrating your customers. Even if a shipment is delayed, a customer will be more understanding if they’ve received an email or text message notifying them. However, they might not be so forgiving when reviewing you when they felt as though their package wasn’t even going to come, and then it arrived late and wasn’t packaged correctly (revert back to point 1).
4. It can handle customer returns
There is a lot of room for error when a customer buys online. Maybe they are unsure about their size, or the colour of that dress they really wanted didn’t look quite right when they received their items.
Further, 81% of people have said they will go ahead with a purchase if the online store offers free returns. There’s no hiding from returns in the age of eCommerce. And you can either swim with the tide or against the tide.
Make sure you shipping platform has a feature than can handle returns in a convenient way for both you and your customers. After all, a well thought-out returns policy helps to build confidence in both your brand and your products.
Shipping isn’t something an online business in the digital age wants to ignore. Not only do customers expect cheap and fast delivery, but they want to stay informed about shipping delays and they want to be able to return a product for free if it doesn’t meet their needs.
These customer demands are putting pressure on the eCommerce industry to adopt new technology solutions that make life easier, while also meeting the needs of their customers. This is why a shipping platform might be one of the most important decisions you make this year.
Make sure your shipping platform offers improvements across your whole business by saving you time and money and simplifying, rather than complicating, your processes. A great shipping platform will mean happy customers, and happy customers mean a thriving business.
We hope you enjoyed this article on shipping platforms because our goal is to help businesses improve their logistics and supply chain processes. Is there anything we missed? Let us know if the comments below.